Andrea De Sica, director of Don't Kill Me
What are your points of reference and inspiration in terms of directing?
Well, actually they can be from advertisements, to cartoons, to Ingmar Bergman's great films. In short, they come from a generation that has been nourished by all forms of audiovisuals, video games. For the making of "Don't kill me", videogames/video games were also a great influence. So who knows, nowadays I think we have to rehash our culture and what will be our education, especially for me, who grew up in the 80s and 90s, these were the influences. If you ask me who the directors of my life are, I could open another parenthesis, but that would be a bit reductive.
Which are your favourite horror films or which ones have fascinated you?
I have always had a great fondness for William Friedkin's The Exorcist. Let's say that the horror films for me were The Exorcist and Silence of the Lambs because they were able to deal with a subject that until then had been treated in a very gothic and fanciful way, but instead in a hyper realistic, dramatic, very tough way, as if it could happen to us in our everyday lives. I mean, that really struck me. The Shining, I made a first film that was really inspired by that film, so I would put it in this mythical triad. Okay, but then going back in time my father was a big horror fanatic from James Whale's Frankenstein, all the old school Universal to Hammer Film. In short, I've seen a lot of them, but these three titles, especially the first two I mentioned above, are the ones that pushed me to do my own little operation, a film like "Don't kill me".
Is there something that scares and terrifies you? Fears and nightmares that you sometimes bring up in your stories?
Something that scares and terrifies me? There are so many things. Fear is a primary, primitive feeling that also serves to save us to some extent, otherwise we would be heading for certain death in a few seconds. Yes, many things. Clearly the first thing that scares me is me, myself. So
many dreams and nightmares I've had... I have a very developed dream life because I've been sleepwalking since I was a child, so I move through the night, and a lot of this dream life goes into the writing and staging of my films.
Have you ever witnessed a supernatural event in your life?
Supernatural events so point-blank? In my opinion yes... let's say they say that when one makes horror films it is a hopeful way of thinking that there is something in the afterlife. I believe that.
The cast is very young. What was it like working with the protagonists? What was the atmosphere on the set?
For me, "Don't Kill Me" is like the third chapter of a trilogy that started with my first film "Children of the Night", continued with "Baby" and ended with "Don't Kill Me". I'm used to working with young people and at the moment I seem to have been labelled a bit of a "teenage director" even though I don't really like that label.
What was it like working with them? I've had a relationship with Alice for four years, so I have great trust and confidence. We grew up together, we took a piece of our path and we did it together. So let's say I was already starting with a relationship that was not only professional but something more.
With the others... I have to say that Rocco is a wonderful person who was very helpful in my vision of the film, also because if you know him in his life outside the set, outside the film he is a completely different person. Giacomo Ferrara and Silvia Calderone were amazing. I have a great relationship with all the actors I work with. I think that directing is mainly about directing the actors and having a relationship with them.
Colour plays a central role in your film. Light and shade make room for each other to give a message. Warm tones evoke moments of purity and happiness, dark tones always lead to a gloomy scenario, often devoid of human emotions. What do these colour variations express in detail?
The visual approach is always fundamental for me.
In this case it's as if I had shot two different films: a coloured film that is Mirta's past, and a film - I almost wanted to make it in black and white - that is her present, as if it were ruined, degraded. It kind of expresses the existential characteristic of this story.
Does the choice of Mirta and Robin's names have any specific symbolism?
On the choice of names I have to take a step back because it is not an original story. "Don't kill me" is based on a book, a novel by Chiara Palazzolo from 2005, a novel that predates Twilight to which we have been, in my opinion, a little exaggeratedly compared. Mirta and Robin are the names of the characters created by Chiara Palazzolo's pen and we kept them apart to be faithful to the novel from which we drew our inspiration, but I liked them. Mirta gives a sense of delicacy, playfulness, something that is part of childhood and adolescence, while Robin is a nickname. In fact, if you look closely at the film, Robin's best friend who is killed by a Sopramorto was called Pacman.
At the end of the last century, the Italian horror/thriller dominated, think of Argento, Fulci, Soave. Over time it has lost some prestige. What do you think is missing from these two genres in Italy today?
I feel I am part of the decline of the last great Italian horror film, Dellamorte Dellamore, which was made because I was given the book as a present at primary school, I took it to school and the teachers called my mother, who wanted to be a producer at the time, and from this she decided to make this film with Michele Soavi and Gianni Romoli (the screenwriter, among other things, of Non mi uccidere). By the way, in the film "Dellamorte Dellamore" I play a zombie and it's no coincidence that I decided to write this film with Gianni Romoli, who was already planning to do it before I was old enough to do it and I tried to build a bridge between then, when it was still possible to think, and a long period when it seemed no longer possible.
So I like to think that I tried, that I did something very unusual in contemporary Italian cinema.
Do you already have new projects in mind? Any plot drafts to bring to the big and small screen?
I have a lot of projects in mind, but at the moment I can't talk about them yet, but I hope, as with 'Don't kill me', to surprise my followers, to do something that people won't expect.
What do you think about the NETFLIX revolution? Is it replacing physical cinemas in some way?
Streaming has been a big revolution because we can access films more immediately. The speed thing nowadays seems to play a big role. In reality, many wonderful films are not found in streaming. Streaming is a somewhat reduced vision of what cinema is and its history and above all it cannot replace the cinema experience which is a different thing. I am not one of those who say 'it's better' or 'it's worse'. There is streaming, and it has been my good fortune, so maybe things like what I am trying to do would not have been possible in the old traditional channels. But at the same time I think that a film seen in the cinema, a certain type of film, has a way of experiencing it that is certainly very different from seeing it on a laptop or on a television at home. Cinema is and always will be a different thing.
Tell us about a dream you have, whether it concerns work or something else.
My dream? TO BE HAPPY. Then doing what I don't know.