A Pedacito of An Italian Movie Set
Updated: May 18, 2021
Madison, Georgia, is probably not the first place one would think of as the location for an Italian movie to be shot. With a population of a little over 3,000 people, this small southern town seems like it would make a better backdrop for a Civil War film.
Having worked on movies in New York and Los Angeles for several years, I moved to Madison with the intention of getting away from the film industry and all its craziness. Madison seemed like the perfect place to do it. I spent my mornings writing, and in the evenings, I worked for a local catering company, delivering buffet-style southern cooking to weddings, funerals, and business functions.
One day while getting ready to deliver a van full of food, a small group of Italians pulled up to the catering business and started asking questions about the possibility of catering a movie that they were planning to film. Shocked to see a bunch of Italians in this small town in the middle of nowhere, I asked the filmmakers why they had chosen Georgia as their filming location. They explained to me that Georgia had just signed a new tax law making it really inexpensive to film in the state.
I was enjoying my conversation with the filmmakers, and when I mentioned that I used to work on movies in my previous job, the film’s assistant director asked if I would be interested in doing some work on their film. Out of curiosity, more than anything, I agreed to help them out in whatever way that I could.
A week later, I was on-set for the first day of shooting. The movie itself was about two gay men who both had very conservative families back in Italy. They move to America to hide the fact that they are in love and want to get married. When both men’s families make a surprise visit to see them, comedy ensues.
From the very first day of shooting, I noticed that the Italian filmmakers have a very distinct way of working. Italians are known for being passionate people, and I discovered this firsthand while on the set. The director, the cameraman, the actors all would yell at one another in heated arguments that would sometimes last an hour at a time. Of course, the arguments were always in Italian, so I never really understood the purpose of these arguments or who would finally win them.
What I did know was that the Americans on the crew were not used to so much yelling and apparent hostility. In fact, several of the American crew members quit their jobs within the first week of shooting because they couldn’t handle the stress of listening to people argue so constantly. Because I didn’t have any real skin in the game, I just found it deeply amusing.
At the beginning of the second week of shooting, the Assistant Director approached me and asked if I would be in charge of the art department. Although I had worked on several movies, I had never worked with the art department before and knew little about the job. Now I was being asked if I would be in charge of the whole thing because the entire art department had up and quit. I knew that I was probably biting off more than I could chew, but always one for a challenge, I agreed.
For the next three weeks of filming, I had a crash course on “dressing a set.” My job was to make any part of the scene that would be on camera look authentic to the world being created. If the actors were drinking anything, I would set up the bar. If there was a scene in a chapel, I would light the candles. And on and on. There were always a million things to do for any one shot, and I became a very busy man. At one point in shooting, they even asked me to play an extra in one of the scenes.
The crew kept yelling at each other, but no one ever said anything negative to me. They knew that I didn’t really know what I was doing and was just trying to help, so everyone was especially kind to me.
Ultimately, the movie finished filming, and the filmmakers packed up and went back to Italy to begin the editing process. Though filming a movie is often a difficult process, it can also be a lot of fun. It’s easy to grow close to the people you work with on a movie because you often spend very long hours together in highly stressful situations. Though most of the crew spoke very little English, I found myself building friendships with the filmmakers, which last to this day.
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