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February 09, 2007

The 80s Win

It's time to meet another winner. Massimo Sbaraccani is one of the brains behind our judge's joint favourite Rudebox Short, The 80s. The Italian director/writer/editor took time out from his hectic film schedule to tell us a bit about his winning film, the team behind it and what he's up to right now.

The 80s was voted joint favourite by our panel of judges (which included Lord Puttnam, Jonathan Ross and Robbie) along with 12ᅢ Pounds.

Cleverly shot, The 80s tells the story of a typical day in the life of a boy, who is supposed to be Robbie Williams, from the time he wakes up until the time he gets back into bed. It's also about his teenage years in the 80s. What we see on the screen is one day, but actually the story is set in the decade. During the film and the years we see furniture, posters, objects and the whole room changing following the evolving fashions and musical tastes of the protagonist.

We can also see the growing of the boy, passing through his youth period to puberty. At the end of his day he remembers all the events he's faced and then finds on his desk a CD. The CD is the connection between the 80s and the 90s, the new decade that will be fundamental to his personal, professional and artistic life.

The 80s features some great performances, and some brilliant studio trickery too. Take a look below and then read on for more about the team; it's a deserving winner.

The team:

Massimo Sbaraccani: 28, Milan, director/writer/editor/line producer and whatever comes!
I was born in Milan and have lived in Rome, Milan and Dublin. I took a degree in Industrial Design for Communication at Politecnico di Milano and then tried to build a career in the production market. I had an internship in McCann Erickson in Milan, in the production department, and then did a course in directing and editing. I've worked as an assistant line producer in commercials. I then worked for a news TV channel and also directed and edited some Internet commercials and corporate videos. I've also worked as a post-production supervisor, and directed two shorts, one of these with Antonello and Vincenzo.

Antonello Caragnano: 29, Milan - producer (at the moment he's working in a communication agency as expositions/shows producer)

Vincenzo Ricchiuto: 31, Milan (born in Trani - south Italy) - director/writer looking for a job!
He took a degree in Literature and Philosophy for Movies and Theatre at Bologna Alma Mater University and he tried to build his career in screenwriting and directing movies. He had an internship in screenwriting and directing in Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach - Florida (USA), and attended a two years course in screenwriting hold by G. Robbiano, teacher at the Columbia University (NYC), and a directing course hold by Abel Ferrara in Bologna. He has been working as an assistant to director in very important movie production companies in Italy such as Cattleya and New Light. Then he directed some commercials and two music videos. He has been also evolved as screenplay supervisor on several shorts. He directed six shorts, one of this in collaboration with two friends, Antonello and Massimo.

Name: Massimo Sbaraccani
Role: Director/Writer/Editor/Line Producer and whatever comes!
Age: 28
Lives: Milan

How did you get involved and what made you decide to enter the competition?
A friend of mine who lives in Barcelona told me he read something in a magazine about a competition set up by Robbie. Then I made a quick research on the Internet and found out Shooting People website.

We had just finished shooting a short directed by me and I went to Antonello and Vincenzo and told them about the competition. I decided it was too important not to involve Vincenzo and we decided to co-direct it instead of producing two films which would have been impossible. We didn't think about it a minute. We had to try the competition. During pre-production sometimes we were thinking to abandon the project but thank God we didn't!

How did you come up with your idea?
It was me and Vincenzo, talking about the lyrics of the song and we decided to focus on the mood of the 80s. Then I had this idea of one location, the room of a guy, who'd be Robbie, evolving in the decade. Then we had the idea to set it in one single day that would represent the 80s and the teenage years of the guy.

Can you describe for us the film as you originally planned it - and how it turned out?
My original idea was to make a sequence long shot turning 360 degrees around the room. But of course it would have been impossible for us to produce it and we decided to have a fixed camera. Of course we wanted professional actors, but we couldn't, we didn't have time or money. We wanted to add some explicit scenes in the movie but then we decided to make it softer, even if we shot some kind of 'uncensored' scenes. For example, when Robbie drinks with his friends, we have a version in which you can see the bottle of whiskey or some cigarettes or a joint (fake of course!) in other scenes.

How long did it take to write, cast and make the film, and how did you find your cast?
One night, after we knew about the competition, we had the idea and begun to write the script. After one week and a half we were shooting (the 4th and the 5th of November). We planned the production for the first end date that was given, the 13th of November. We cast amongst our friends and some of the boys in the movie are friends of friends who put a lot of enthusiasm into the project. The girl with the black and white hair is the set decorator too and she is my best friend and flatmate. Robbie is a friend of mine, actually we met for the first time at the beginning of October and now we are really good friends thanks to this experience too!

We spent the few days we had looking for people and objects, thinking only about this movie, asking everybody we met if they had some objects from the 80s; posters and so on. We went to Sunday markets to buy cheap and small things to put in the scene like the radio, which is one of my favourite! We wanted to place a Rubik's cube on the scene, and it was one of the first things we found, but can you imagine it... I forgot it at home! Anyway the week before the shooting my house was full of stuff for this movie!

Tell us about making the film
We shot in a very old building which is going to be restored. My brother Marco works for the architect who is following the plans for the restoration. Thanks to him we had the authorization from the owner of the building. We made this chioce because we couldn't find anybody who'd give us his room for two days, letting us transform it, so we decided to shoot in an empty room. Me and Federica Scaramelli (the set decorator) painted the walls, we brought the furniture taken from other rooms in the building. I brought the library (now Antonello has it), and I borrowed a table from an antiques dealer, a friend of my mother's. We'd like to say we shot in 16mm or HD, but unfortunately we had to make it in miniDV because we had no time and money. We shot with a Panasonic DVX-100, probably the best miniDV camera on the market. The Director of Photography was supposed to be a friend who often works with me, but unfortunately she got sick few days before shooting. Then we purposed the project to Valerio Ferrario, a really professional DoP, who was amazed by the idea and luckly he wanted to be involved. He has been really kind and available.

Any good stories from the making of the film?
The make-up artist is the girl who play the aunt on the bed. The 'mother' is Antonello's girlfriend. Hilary, one of the girls, plays three roles and she's on screen twice in the same moment. Robbie is played by Ivan Zazzali, an interior designer who really likes Robbie Williams. In the final scene, the guy next to Federica (the girl with the baby) is her real boyfriend and he is wearing a pair of boxers with an English flag. At first all charachters had names, for example all Robbie's friends were supposed to be named as the components of Take That. The priest is Renzo Barzizza, a really famous ex-producer of commercials in Milan. He was Antonello's and my teacher and now we are really good friends. The total costs of the movie is 500€, spent in food and props. All actors are non-professionals. We didn't pay anybody and the rent of the equipment was given as a present by Cinenoleggi Nane. It was deadly freezing during shooting and Ivan had been in shorts for a long time. We had 150 layers in After Effects.

Have you ever done anything like this before?
No. But we would like to do it again and again! Too fun!

What do you hope to do next? Do you have any more films planned?
I wrote two screenplays and we (Antonello and I) are planning to film the first one soon. One of these is set entirely on a underground train, so we are trying to convince Milan Transport Company to help us. I am looking forward to coming to London aswell, because here in Milan it's very hard to get into the production market.

What will you do with the prize money?
We will pay all those who helped us. Antonello and I are planning to fund a small company to produce our videos, and if we'll have some money left we will make a journey!

Have you seen any other films in the competition?
Yes we did, even if though there were a lot, we watched the most of them.

Did you think you'd be in with a chance of winning?
Actually even if we thought the average quality of some other entries was quite low, we would never imagine we would win. We are really pleased we were 1st with '12ᅢ pounds' because it's a very well shot movie. We also liked 'No Strings Attached', the one with the puppet.

Have you had much feedback from your film?
One of the most interesting things is that all the critics we had (before and after the winning) were constructive and professional. Few people told us "I don't like it" without an objective explanation. Everybody appreciated the work behind, the story and the mood.