Only three Yank productions lensed in Italy last year, but all were of substantial size: “Year of the Gun,” “Hudson Hawk” and “The Godfather III.”
Italy has no film commission or other body to lure foreign producers to come lens within its borders. In fact, many of those who have recently tried to shoot here have a list of complaints that begin with the high costs of hotel rooms and restaurants. A weak dollar and rising inflation make a formidable trade barrier.
“The only lure of Italy is the scenery and the craftsmen, which are justifiably famous even if they are overpriced,” said one local unit publicist specialized in working with U.S. companies.
Bob Rosen, exec producer on John Frankenheimer’s “Year of the Gun,” hired an entirely local crew to keep down expenses and praised them as “efficient, caring, full of ideas and not bothered by changes in the script.”
“In Italy, it’s paramount to buy the right soldiers,” says Thomas Schuhly, a long-time Rome resident who produced “The Name of the Rose” and “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” here. “Once you’ve done that, you can benefit from the Italians’ well-known flexibility and creativeness in solving problems, especially at the last minute. It’s no exaggeration to say Italian directors of photography are the best in the world. Whatever concerns crafts, construction, makeup, costumes, everything you see on the screen, it’s all first-rate.”
Francesco Cinieri, the man who casts most of the international productions that come to Rome, feels shooting in Italy is still a bargain. “The legal work day is 10 hours plus one hour for lunch, and you can agree on a 12-hour day,” he says. “The weather is more or less perfect, the locations are extraordinary and the extras cost less than in many other countries.”