A few weeks back I posted the trailer of a splendid Steampunk movie from Italy here: The Technician.
Here’s the trailer again:
I got in touch with Luca Cerlini, the director and asked if he would be willing to give me an interview. He responded rather enthusiastically and it is with great pleasure I present the interview to you now:
Hello Luca, thanks again for agreeing to this interview. Please introduce yourself and your team.
I’m Luca Cerlini, a graduate of cinema school in Milan, and I’m a director of shortmovies,videoclips and documentaries. So many people worked on the short and they would all deserve to be thanked, because they were really great: firstly, the guys at Accademia di Brera for their massive work on the sets, Oscar Cafaro for the concept design, the photography people headed by Paolo Zaninelli and Fabio Possanzini, the audio and sound design staff, the editing staff and Gionata Medeot for the special fx, Marilisa Cosello for the costumes, the actors Stefano Scherini and Eleonora Meneghini who really believed in the project, and last but not least my assistant director Antonino Valvo and the production team. They’ve been fantastic, I couldn’t have made it without them!
Are you a professional film maker?
I do mostly videoclips, shorts and documentaries. I co-founded an independent studio, Secret Wood, and we’re starting up in business. In the summer we will be making an experimental documentary and some music videoclips.
What other projects have you worked on?
I worked mainly on shorts and documentaries, often in a partnership with my school, and on musical videoclips. The Technician is my first major project, major for the means and the number of people involved.
Where can we find your work on the internet? – Do you have an official website?
I prefer stories that tickle the imagination of the watcher, I like to create sceneries of irreality or at least with a strong imaginative factor. Adding a fantastic touch to a story is my second nature, it is part of my imaginative world and it always influences my work.
And now about The Technician:
How did you come up with the idea for The Technician, is there a particular work or works that inspired you?
The idea for The Technician wasn’t mine, at least not the core idea, which came from Nicola Zurlo, the screenwriter. Nearly all the professional operators involved in the making of the short, like me, were students attending the last year of cinema school in Milan. The screenplay that started the project was the final exam paper for the screenwriting class.
Once the first draft was complete, it was submitted to me along with other scripts and, although it was very different from the one we shot in the end, I immediately fell in love with the atmosphere it suggested. It was deeply changed over time but its coldness, its air of nostalgia, its gloominess were in the first draft to stay (the original script was called Blue Overall and was about a society where feelings were forbidden and the Technician’s job was to mend people deemed to be too emotional!!).
Is The Technician intentionally steampunk?
When I started to work on the screenplay I immediately realized that, in order to bring some of the screenwriter’s intentions to the surface and to make some situations visually plausible, I would have to chose a well-defined aesthetic; at the same time I had to work it out on a very low budget (a little more than 3.000 (three thousand) euros). Steampunk was just right because it is based on the alteration of objects, clothes and technologies of the past, and with a little research and imagination it’s easy to recreate the right atmosphere.
How did you first hear of steampunk and why did you choose to make a movie about it?
I’ve been a steampunk fan for a long time now, but I had never tried to make something like this before, so we took a massive risk! Before turning to video, I undertook a research project on illustration. It was during the long hours spent hunting for information on artists and leafing through books that I stumbled into this current of thought and I was instantly fascinated. It looked straight away like the perfect atmosphere for our story; besides, I was afraid that choosing a cyberpunk or space age inspiration would prove to expensive, resulting in an implausible film, and shooting in 16mm we couldn’t risk the home movie look!
Have you done any steampunk related projects before? (Which?)
Having worked for 6 months on the adventure of The Technician, started out with two typewriters and one giant light bulb to make the teaser trailer and ended with the building of 4 different sets and hundreds of props, I really think I will have a break from steampunk ! No joking: I would love to make more steampunk stuff but it looks difficult at the moment, considering that the freedom we had in the making of the movie (virtually no one was paid and the materials – lights and set stuff – were free, belonging to the school) is not easily attainable in a world where a project is chosen according to financial outcomes rather than its visual appeal, and more so in Italy, where there’s virtually no science fiction movies.
Can you tell us anything about steampunk in Italy?
The steampunk community is not very developed in Italy but its members are nonetheless very dedicated. In order to have a better understanding of the style we consulted Mauro Bergamaschi , who is a great expert of steampunk culture and ushered us into its world, giving help and lots of information to understand the aesthetics and the thought that lay at the foundations of the movement.
Is The Technician going to be a feature length move or something shorter?
The Technician is a short of about 15 minutes. It would be great to make it into a feature film, though! Production-wise, we only had 10 reels, each 10 minutes long, meaning 100 minutes all together to shoot the movie! Therefore we were able to film every shot not more than 3 or 4 times, which is very difficult if you’re used to work digital, with non limitations whatsoever. I do hope The Technician will attract some attention during the festivals and someone will become interested in the project. We’ll see!
Can you tell us a little more about the plot and the backstory?
Firstly, The Technician is a tribute to Blade Runner, in my opinion the best science fiction film ever. While we were working on the story, before starting the pre-production, we became aware that many of our ideas came directly from that movie. So we thought: “Why not play around with this thing?” and filled up our short with hints and quotations.
In the world where our characters live, androids are commonplace and are serve a variety of purposes, from military to sexual. Years before our story is set, a new kind of droids came out on the market. They were called Code Fitter 32I and were virtually perfect, but were soon reclaimed because they had a tendency to build other droids and disobey humans. After a tough struggle, the Technicians regained control of their workshops, locked them up and the Code Fitter were put out of the way. The short tells the story of Eugene Defekto, a Technician at Rutger Android Corporation, who has to deal with a beautiful she-android hiding a huge secret.
Where does the funding come from? Can we help you out?
The funding to make the short came from our school, the Fondazione Milano Cinema e Televisone.
For our graduation exam, students make 3 shorts on a 16mm film and The Technician is one of those. The school provides the technical materials for photography, shooting, audio and set essentials. Plus 10 reels and development service, and a little more than 3000 euro to cover all other expenses: costumes, actors, location, travelling etc. Surely, without these facilitations and having to pay all the students who worked on the short, 50.000 euro wouldn’t have been enough!
The story was created in June 2010. I started working with the screenwriter in November and pre-production started at the end of January 2011. In April we started shooting, which took us a fortnight. From that moment on, editing, sound design and special fx have kept us busy 24/7!
How far advanced is it? Is it maybe finished?
The short is officially finished! We are now making the dvds we are going to send to some festivals and screenings. It took a while, but we made it!
Will there be a DVD or download available?
Being a Fondazione Milano production, and not for commercial purposes, they own the rights and I don’t know what will be done with the film, a part from the festivals. What I hope, is to make a double dvd, including the documentary (directed by Alioscia Mazzetto) on the making of the movie, with many extras, and to make it widely available. We will keep you posted on that!
Thank you for your time, Luca, it is highly appreciated. And I hope The Technician will be available on DVD or in another format real soon!
Thank you so much for your interest in our work and for this opportunity to talk about it. We are really grateful.
So much for the interview. You know what you have to do now: Subscribe to Luca’s Youtube Channel, give him a „Like“ on Facebook and help this thing spread on the æthernet!