Italy Sees Production Return Under Strict Safety Guidelines

Italy, the European country initially hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic, is weathering the second wave well with film and TV production chugging along at a relatively healthy pace thanks to efficient safety protocols and government incentives.

Culture minister Dario Franceschini has just trumpeted a fresh injection of cash to support production, upping resources to fund the Italian tax rebate from €400 million ($474 million) to $652 million for 2021 while raising the incentive’s cap from 30% to 40% of a local production’s budget (for international productions, Italy’s cash-back rebate remains capped 30%, which is still attractive). The tax rebate is Italy’s main tool to combat the rise in economic costs and risks caused by coronavirus.

The Italian culture czar has also announced plans to double available backlot space at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios and to bring in millions of euros in new resources as part of a revamp of the famed facilities, where several substantial U.S. studio productions are expected to set up camp next year.

Meanwhile, Paramount’s “Mission: Impossible 7” (pictured) shot in Italy for several weeks in October and November. Cameras did not stop when the country went on semi-lockdown on Oct. 25, though at one point they had to halt temporarily after sustaining at least a dozen coronavirus cases on set, according to Italian reports confirmed by sources. Star Tom Cruise was spotted by paparazzi in November wearing a black face mask while taking a break in between acrobatic scenes filmed on Venice’s Grand Canal and smaller waterways.

The U.S. blockbuster’s Italian line producer Marco Valerio Pugini notes that the “Mission: Impossible 7” shoot went ahead in accordance with Italy’s protocols and is “working in bubbles that create safety layers” within different work groups.

Pugini, who heads Rome-based Panorama Films and is also chief of Italy’s line producers’ organization APE, says he has another international picture lined up to start soon and three others for next year, one of which is in prep, but could not be drawn on titles.

Other top U.S. talents are also not shying away from shooting in Italy. In mid-November cameras started rolling in Rome on English-language teen romancer “Time Is Up,” pairing Bella Thorne with Italian pop star Benjamin Mascolo — who is her real life fiancè — directed by Elisa Amoruso (“Chiara Ferragni — Unposted”). Pic is being produced by Italy’s Marco Belardi via his Lotus Production, a Leone Film Group company, with pubcaster RAI’s RAI Cinema on board.

Earlier in November shooting got underway in the port city of Bari in the Southern Apulia region on psychological thriller “State of Consciousness.” Helmed by U.S. director Marcus Stokes (“Criminal Minds”) it stars Emile Hirsch as a young man trapped in an institution where he is forced to take medication for a mental disorder he doesn’t have. Iervolino Entertainment, which is owned and operated by Italian producer Andrea Iervolino and Monika Bacardi, is producing.

And just as the country went into semi-lockdown, shooting kicked off on “Nudes,” Wild Bunch TV’s first Italian production, an anthology drama about teens contending with compromising photos of themselves on social media. The show, produced by Wild Bunch’s Italian unit Bim Produzione, is being directed by Laura Luchetti (“Twin Flower”) near Bologna in central Italy.

As with other sets across Italy, “Nudes” is adopting more stringent measures than local production protocols require, with everyone doing two swab tests a week instead of the requisite one, says producer Riccardo Russo.

Of course there is always a risk the country could go on total lockdown. But even in that case, Russo doesn’t think the government would halt production, since “being on set is actually more secure than lots of other civilian life situations,” he notes.

 

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