PRESENTS

In Pursuit
of Perfection

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Taste Tuscanini. Know Italy.

La Grande Caccia Al Tonno:
The Intrigues of Italian Film

The day dawned bright and early as we drove across the rolling hills to the Italian fishing village of Anzio. We arrived as the town began showing signs of life. Small, colorful buildings clustered around a town square where little boys ran, tumbling with soccer balls, grandparents smiling benevolently from their benches. We walked through the cobbled alleyways to the ocean, the scent of saltwater filling the air. The narrow path parted to reveal a bright, noisy dock with more people than I have ever seen crowded onto a small stone waterfront. Marco, our producer, stepped forward to greet us with a great big Italian hello. “There are over forty people on set this morning!” he informed us, smiling widely.

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With waves crashing in the background, we were guided to a row of director’s seats where we could watch the cameras through a screen set up just for us. There were about a thousand people to smile at and greet and fumble within our nonexistent Italian. Luckily, most people there speak an excellent English. The actors had started shooting, bustling, beautiful action all around us. 

 

Soon, the sun started to peak over the high seas and it was warm enough to ride without a jacket. I boarded a crew boat and we set off, filming the actors on a fishing trawler just ahead of us. We drew next to them, with the wind in our hair and eyes dazzled by the azure horizon. In what seemed a dreadfully bold move, we jumped ship to the actors’ boat, carrying all of the filming equipment over the gap, bucking on the waves all the while. It was a classic old sea vessel, and as the actors carried on filming, we ducked inside the cabin to talk to the captain, who spun sea tales, telling us of long nights sleeping on this very boat under the stars. As the sun set, we headed for shore, tired and content. 

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The next morning, while the dew dropped and fog rose, we left Rome and headed to the Rieti Province for a second day of shooting. We reached the countryside, twisted hilly roads like a forgotten pass in an old movie. The landscape unfolded beneath us, flocks of birds flying high overhead. We soon entered a wooded area, which suddenly revealed a clearing at whose heart lay a rustic Tuscan cottage. 

 

The house seemed out of a fairytale, an old stone and brick edifice presiding over the clearing. Inside, it was heaving with techs, grips and actors bustling about to ready the kitchen for the shot. We were soon settled right outside the kitchen with our screen to watch the action unfold. It was warm and cozy, with wooden rafters overhead and wide windows that let in the morning sunlight. The sitting room was set with large armchairs and lined with beautiful old watercolors and oils of country scenes. 

 

We checked off a list of products for placement in each shot and then held a small powwow with the producer and photographers to make sure the positions were just right. And then the filming was underway. Our Italian nonna, all decked out in period costume, was incredibly good-natured and patient, running over the same scenes with a soft smile. Her grandson played along admirably.

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Then came the director’s yell: “Cut!” 

 

Everyone swung into action like a perfectly oiled machine. The wardrobe and makeup staff were brushing down a laughing Toto, tucking stray hairs back into Nonna’s kerchief, while food techs switched up the produce on her chopping board, technicians adjusted lighting, and set designers moved the props around. The director gave notes to actors and photographers alike, and in another moment the clapperboard dude snapped his stick and the screens switched on to record. There was an instant hush. And the show went on. 

 

At about midday, we broke and headed up to the second location, driving steadily up and toward Monteleone Sabino until we passed a wide olive grove and pulled up outside an old, tall building. It was made of white stone, and covered with dramatic climbing ivy, with large glass half-circle doors that opened up to a warm, tiled living space. 

 

The sun started going down and we filmed the final dinner shots on the balcony, with rolling hills in the background. It was lovely. When the team started packing up to leave, the producers sat down and relaxed as the sky darkened, and finally bade goodbye to the kind old lady.

 
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The last day of shooting was Friday. We traveled back out to the countryside for the last time. This time, we descended the hills of Poggio Nativo until we reached a fresh olive grove. We parked, and you see the workers and hear their steady smacking on the trees, and a cascade of olives raining down into green nets spread on the floor. 

 

We were soon established between two long columns of stately olive trees, watching the cameramen, Toto running between the trees, actors on ladders calling out to him and laughing. It was gorgeous. The owner of the grove came out and had the actors taste his oil over bruschetta, directly from the orchard itself. 

The last day of shooting was Friday. We traveled back out to the countryside for the last time. This time, we descended the hills of Poggio Nativo until we reached a fresh olive grove. We parked, and you see the workers and hear their steady smacking on the trees, and a cascade of olives raining down into green nets spread on the floor. 

 

We were soon established between two long columns of stately olive trees, watching the cameramen, Toto running between the trees, actors on ladders calling out to him and laughing. It was gorgeous. The owner of the grove came out and had the actors taste his oil over bruschetta, directly from the orchard itself. 

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Soon, we’d made our way back up to the hilltops and entered the charming village of Collelungo, where we were to film the rest of the commercial. The crew started to set up the marketplace, unloading carton after carton of fresh, bright produce. We set up the actors for some quick shots while Toto was filmed on his bike, and then started with the crowd scenes.

 

The afternoon grew long, and I had to leave so that I could get back to Rome in time for Shabbos and my late night Motzei Shabbos flight. I made one final stop at the pizza kitchen where the bakers were glad to demonstrate how to flip a pizza (it’s all in the wrist movements, by the way). I thanked all the wonderful people involved in this production and headed back to the city.

 

After all that action and excitement, I came home with a newfound admiration and appreciation for production teams. We were blessed with a production team that is not just good at what they do, but also deeply positive and easy to work with. They handled challenges and setbacks and kept everything appropriate for a kosher production, pivoting and dealing with aplomb. We are most grateful to our collaborating production team, and look forward to the next great adventure!

Written by: Elyanna Sapperstein @heartworks

Meet The Team

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Heart Works

Screenplay

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Emanuele Di Bacco

Director

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Marco Russo

 

Producer

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Andrea Grant

 

Film Scorer

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Emanuelle Angeloni

Producer

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Andrea Butti

Photographer

Behind The Scenes