Capri is an open-air set, it is no coicidence that many producers, directors, actors from all around the world choose it not only as a holiday destination but also for work reason.
Masterpieces such as the Bay of Naples, Le Mepris or Toto movies, to the most recent glamourus spot by Dolce & Gabbana have been all shot in Capri.
Let’s discover this “set into the set” with an expert , Michela Giovinetti, Neapolitan origin and Caprese by adoption. Passionate about Cinema from a very young age, Michela began working in Naples with great directors like Martone, Corsicato, Sorrentino, then moved to Rome where she graduated in Film and Television Production.
Since 2004 Michela lives in Capri where she works steadily as Location Manager for film and advertising productions shooting on the island and Amalfi Coast. (www.caprilocationservice.com)
Michela doesn’t like to be under the limelight, I struggle even to snatch a photo of her. It is predictable with people working behind the scenes.
She is the opposite of the clerk office , it’s quite rare she can plan a vacation, especially before December , and it often happens that she has to work at Villa Damecuta at sunrise or at Casa Malaparte at sunset .. Tough life, isn’t it?
But let’s step back to her background in Cinema: “Having attended the Experimental Film Centre gave me the opportunity to learn a lot, to acquire a method, as well as to deepen my passion for the seventh art” Michela says with conviction, adding,”but without paying my dues on the set I would have never had the technical knowledge essential for my job, that you learn in depth only with experience. Even today, although I do this job for a long time, I am surprised that there is always something new to discover!”
Watching it all from behind the camera, we realize that when you’re shooting a movie or a commercial two worlds meet and Michela must then mediate between two subjects, satyisfing customers needs and acting as guarantor for the owner of the location.
The skill of a location manager lies in find balance beetween the client demands (which often become pretensions) , and those of the owners (or managers) of the location.
“Hosting a crew is a real invasion of space, I prefer to be very clear from the beginning, explaining in detail what are the pros and cons. I aim to establish a relationship of trust with the owners of the venue, who feel then somehow reassured by my presence. But if I understand, for example, that a person is very jealous of his house, then I keep it out, it would be a hell for us and for her/him …
Working in an area normally open to the public, such as a bar, a restaurant or a beach resets a number of logistical difficulties, although sometimes it is not granted an exclusive use, and so we have to be careful not to disturbing customers of our host.
Working in a private villa, however, allows us to move freely, using the space as required by the director or the photographer.
How can you meet client requests, often (almost) impossible, operating in an island quite restrictive in terms of logistics?
Contrary to what you might think, once arrived on the island for the first site-inspections, the crew understands the inevitable limitations of a small territory as Capri, especially with regard to the transport of technical equipment and difficulty of moving from one location to another.
That is why, requests reduce by themselves immediately ..!
Although I’ve had to deal with absurd claims and explain: No, the director can not have a private car waiting for him at the entrance of the hotel (even if it’s written in his contract) simply because, no car goes around on the narrow streets of the center of Capri, which by the way is only for pedestrians!
What it’s essential to establish good interpersonal relationships in the area?
It helps a lot to have the ability to understand who you are dealing with. Working most of the time during our peak season, when stress is at the highest level, you have to be clever in mediating to obtain what the client has in mind. Personally I must say that, after more than 10 years living and working in Capri, I have excellent human and professional relations with all the people I involve when we shoot. Now we are a real team!
Dream locations and perfect partnership: could you tell us some names?
One of the reasons why I still love this work is that it opens doors to places not normally accessible to the public.. sometimes I even didn’t know they existed!
I worked on a shooting in the Royal Palace of Caserta, on their closing day, and therefore had the entire Palace at our disposal, or in Villas or wonderful hotels in Capri and the Amalfi Coast, such as the JK Place or the Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento.
I’m just coming from a site-inspection for an American project, we stayed for a whole week in a villa of the Eighteenth century overlooking Positano, which will also will be used as a set. An amazing location!
Among my favorite locations there are definitely Casa Malaparte, where I had the privilege to access several times, the Lighthouse of Punta Carena, where we shot some scenes of the fiction “Capri”, and Il Riccio, nestled on a cliff just few steps from the Blue Grotto, last summer we interviewed Chef Salvatore with House of Peroni.
How important is creativity in your work?
Working closely with the director or photographer and art director. I must be able to interpret their ideas and make them real. Be a the location manager is a very creative job . It ‘a great satisfaction when I can find the location that the director had in mind.
How important is it to be discreet, especially when it comes to shoot exclusive private location? The discretion in my work is crucial, both as regards the location, in particular to safeguard the privacy of the home owners that host us, both as regards the project itself. Think of the advertising campaigns, which are shot the year before. If photos were published before the product release, you have wasted a lot of time and have to re-do everything from the beginning..
For this reason, on set is FORBIDDEN to take pictures and especially disclose it. You could be denounced.
Michela, next step?
I can tell you that after so many fashion shoots, I’m following a film set entirely in Anacapri, by a famous French director and an American television series directed by a couple of famous Hollywoodian directors.
I cannot say more..privacy rules!