Leading The Hot Fandango

The 31-year-old actor-turned-producer Domenico Procacci leaped to the public eye at last September’s Venice Film festival when his third production, the very Italian “The Station,” was a flash hit in the Critics’ Week and sold worldwide.

Procacci is representative of the latest generation of ltalo producers, the ones backing well-crafted films “that don’t punish audiences.”

“The script’s the thing,” he says. “The Station” was penned by Italy’s hottest new writer, Umberto Marino, and directed by a young helmer with solid stage experience, Sergio Rubini. Procacci’s philosophy is to be selective, keep technical work like soundtrack and music up to American standards – and risk his own money.

“The Station” is typical of the way this independent newcomer works. His banner Fandango raised the entire $1.5 million budget without the aid of presales or tv finance – quite a rarity in Italy. The pic benefited from $320,000 of state funds through a government loan for small productions; the rest came from bank loans. After its Venice debut, tv and foreign sales – to Japan, France, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Scandinavia, Israel, Canada, Colombia, Hungary and South Africa – took off and allowed Procacci to put a modest profit in the bank. U.S. and Australian theatrical releases are pending.

“It was lucky the film wasn’t presold,” admits Procacci. “If tv rights had gone before Venice, I wouldn’t have made back my costs.”

Foreign sales are becoming a major source of earnings for small, top drawer films like Procacci’s. He used Sacis and Intrafilm as sales agents on “The Station.” His first two productions, Giuseppe Piccioni’s “The Great Blek” and Antonello Grimaldi’s “No One Can Stop Us,” are repped by Intrafilm.

Procacci traces his career back to the short-lived but influential film school run by Gaumont in Rome between 1980 and 1983. There he met many of the youngsters who have worked with him since: directors Piccioni, Grimaldi, Carlo Carlei; cinematographer Alessandro Pesci; editor Angelo Nicolini; scripters Gualtiero Rosella and Maura Nucciatelli.

Former classmate Carlo Carlei will direct Procacci’s next picture, which Fandango is co-producing with Franco Cristaldi’s Cristaldi Film. “The Flight Of The Innocent,” centered around a little boy, starts in July. In August Fandango sets to work on Sergio Rubini’s new film, “The Blonde,” maybe with Euro partners. Nastassjia Kinski very probably will star.

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