Dante Ferretti: production designer

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Dante Ferretti: production designer

Dante Ferretti: production designer

original title:

Dante Ferretti: production designer

directed by:


Dante Ferretti, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo Di Caprio, Terry Gilliam, Francesca Lo Schiavo, Giuseppe Tornatore, Jean-Jacques Annaud, Liliana Cavani, Gabriella Pescucci






film run:





Ready (26/08/2010)

festivals & awards:

The story of Dante Ferretti, great international production designer, artist and art director, from his origin to the world forefront of the greatest art cinema. Ferretti, from Fellini to Scorsese, from Cinecittà to Hollywood with the success of the most important Italian and international cinema. A full scale portrait described by the director Gianfranco Giagni through an extensive interview with Ferretti, and also through the eyes and accounts of directors and actors with whom Ferretti has shared significant professional projects, as well as through the stories of many famous colleagues, friends and his loyal partner Francesca Lo Schiavo. It is together with her, at his side in the story of a career full of success, that Dante Ferretti has also shared the triumph of prizes, from the Academy Awards (with two Oscars for The Aviator and Sweeney Todd), to three Bafta Awards, five David di Donatello Awards as well as twelve Silver Ribbons Awards of film reporters, alongside with the prestigious Pietro Bianchi Award assigned by the SNGCI on the occasion of the Venice International Film Festival 2010.
It is all in the account personally delivered by Dante himself to Gianfranco Giagni, when he directs his camera on the spots he is most attached to: from the atmosphere of his childhood in Macerata to the outset of his career, and as always in the Marche Region where he was born and which he has strongly supported and accompanied this project as far as Rome and to Cinecittà. It is here that Ferretti operates: in a studio that for the first time he reveals to his audience, the core of that great film industry steadily conquering the world. From the Studios in Tuscolana street, Dante Ferretti reveals himself by showing his splendid designs, models and awards.
It is the first documentary of the series “Maestri Italiani”, a set of works dedicated to great artists of Italian cinema and music, outstanding figures in international production; it was created between Rome, New York and Paris; it contains shots taken at the Museum of Cinema as well as in the Statutary of the Egyptian Museum in Turin. It is enriched with sequences of some of the most moving films by Fellini, Scorsese, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, Julie Taymor and by a large number of repertoire images, some of them unreleased (photos, documentaries, making of), interviews and behind-the-scenes that reconstruct not merely the career but the most personal and private story of an artist, who with simplicity has transformed his passion for production design in the most brilliant worldwide film realizations. Ample evidence was given by great Italian and international artists (film directors, producers, costume designers, stylists and a good many craftsmen) who were interviewed by Martin Scorsese, Julie Taymor, Harvey Weinstein, Terry Gilliam, Leonardo Di Caprio, Giuseppe Tornatore, Liliana Cavani, Gabriella Pescucci, Jean Jacques Annaud, Valentino Garavani, Laura Fattori and Carla Fendi, who was driven by her love for cinema and her esteem for Dante Ferretti to support, through the Carla Fendi Foundation, the realization of the documentary in accordance with her wish to hand over to the history of Italian Cinema an evidence on the creativity, skills and work of one of its most famous artists.
In the musical repertoire, accurately selected to accompany this “story of a life”, the Inno alle Marche stands out, a piece composed by the Master Giovanni Allevi, commissioned by the Marche Region, place of origin both of Ferretti and Allevi, and whose use was kindly granted to the film producers by the author himself.


The two Oscars, one in 2005 for the sets of The Aviator by Martin Scorsese and in 2008 for Sweeney Todd by Tim Burton, assigned after fifteen years of nominations, have represented for Dante Ferretti a true establishment in the star system both in Hollywood and on an international scale. In fact, together with the set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo (beside him since 1981 for La pelle by Liliana Cavani) he has given shape to Fellini’s dreams and the ideas of directors such as Martin Scorsese, Marco Ferreri, Liliana Cavani, Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton. On the whole, sixteen nominations for the Oscars have enriched a collection of prizes won throughout the world; among others, three Bafta Awards and four David di Donatello Awards. It is an absolute record of recognitions granted by the Italian film press with a good twelve Silver Ribbons over almost twenty five years: from Fellini’s La città delle donne (1980), E la nave va (1984), Ginger e Fred (1986), to the triumph of The name of the rose (1987), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1990), The Age of the Innocence (1994), Interview with the Vampire(1995), Casino (1997),Bringing out the dead and Titus (2000), Gangs of New York (2003), to the Special Ribbon Award for The Aviator (2006) as well as for The black Dahlia (2007). A love for the set was born at age 13, watching the peplum and great Hollywood films such as The Robe by Henry Kostner. “Who wants to be in the film business” says Ferretti, “I wanted instead to work behind the camera: when I heard the word production designer, I was thunderstruck”.
Born in 1943 in Macerata, he started his career off in 1969 with Medea by Pier Paolo Pasolini, and he has been one of the most faithful among Fellini’s collaborators, with whom he has signed six films, among others Prova d'orchestra, E la nave va, Ginger e Fred. Whilst recalling the work side to side with many great authors (among them, Bellocchio, Scola, Ferreri, Zeffirelli), Ferretti has many times underlined that he had learnt a lot from them all. “According to Fellini I was meant to become an actor, I tried to be like him, he taught me to tell lies; whereas Pasolini has led me, in the eight films created together, to become acquainted with the whole of his world”. As for the collaboration with Elio Petri, Ferretti remembers in particular the emotion in creating the set of Todo modo: “Those scenes, he referred, were born after a long research. We thought about a hotel, then the idea came to our minds of creating modern catacombs, and of resorting to reinforced concrete to represent a claustrophobic world”.
In the mid eighties, Ferretti began working on international sets. It is in 1986 when he collaborates with the director Jean-Jacques Annaud on The name of the rose, adapted from the novel, with the same name, by Umberto Eco. In 1989 and 1990 he received two nominations for the Oscar together with Francesca Lo Schiavo for The adventures of Baron Munchausen by Terry Gilliam and Amleto by Franco Zeffirelli. He made his debut in Hollywood with Martin Scorsese, whom he had met a few years earlier on the set of Fellini’s film La città delle donne.
The production designer becomes for the director of Taxi driver an indispensable collaborator in eight films: from The Age of the Innocence that garnered a third Academy Award, to Shutter Island and the new project, Hugo Cabret, film still in production, with Asa Butterfield, Chloe Moretz, Ben Kingsley, Christopher Lee, Jude Law and Johnny Depp. It is the first film in 3D for the cineaste, filmed between France and Great Britain. Adapted from the bestseller by Brian Selznick The Invention of Hugo Cabret, the film written by John Logan (The Aviator) and Scorsese (who is also one of the producers with Johnny Depp) is the story of Hugo Cabret, a twelve year old orphan who lives hidden in a railway station in Paris in the thirties. Ferretti has designed suggestions and ambiance, decorated as usual by Francesca Lo Schiavo. Once again, together they are awarded the prestigious SNGCI’s Pietro Bianchi Award. “There is an important relation between story, actors and scene. Scene and decoration have to be a part of the story” explains Francesca Lo Schiavo. And Ferretti adds: “All my successes also belong to her who, in spite of the goals achieved together, has always made me keep my feet firmly planted on the ground. She is a decorator of great talent and exquisite taste for the details. This is why perfectionist directors like Martin Scorsese adore her. I’ll not pay her any further compliments as the prizes she has been awarded speak for themselves...” A success that is the result of a great creativity and understanding allowing set designing to face more and more emotional and precious challenges.
Among such challenges, there is also the realization of the sets of Cinecittà World that shall be located in Rome, on the Via Pontina in the area of Castel Romano, former Dino De Laurentiis Studios. Dante Ferretti with his two Oscar Awards has been entrusted with the creative project of the first Italian Theme Park in Italy dedicated to Cinema, with an estimate of a regular rate of 4 million visitors per year. The Park is part of an overall investment plan of 500 million euros that covers an area of 150 hectars. The Municipality of Rome has included it among the 23 priorities of the Second Tourism Pole of the Capital; it shall represent a synthesis between culture, cinema and entertainment.
Furthermore, Dante Ferretti is also busy with the creation of a new Museum of Federico Fellini in Rimini.