Dante Ferretti

Dante Ferretti

Do you watch a lot of movies as reference when you’re working on a movie?
DF:
Yes, of course I do. On Hugo, we also had the fantastic Marianne who worked with Scorsese on all the research. And the set decorator Francesca Lo Schiavo also did a lot of research.

AS: Does it make things easier that your wife is your set decorator?
DF:
Yes, because we know each other very well. We don’t have to say too much. She knows what I want, she knows what I like. I know what she can do. For some people it’s difficult to work with their wife but for me it’s really great. We did so many movies together.

AS: When you’re making a movie are you mostly on set or are you in an office?
DF:
I’m always on the stage because because I like to follow the set, step by step. And then even when we’re shooting sometimes I go to the set and look. Then I go look at the next set that I have to do. I’m the first there when we start the movie and the last on the last day of shooting.

AS: I heard you also designed an opera, David Cronenberg’s The Fly. How was that different from designing a movie?
DF:
It’s very different. I did that one because Cronenberg was good. But I’ve done many operas, not just The Fly. I worked in London with the Royal Opera, in La Scala in Italy, and everywhere. I’ve done at least 40 operas! The last one I did was Carmen in my hometown. For the first time I was the director! When they asked me to do Carmen I actually said, No I can’t. Then they called me and said, You have to do Carmen because it’s your home town, you can’t say no. I finally said, Okay, and then I asked, Who is the director? And they said, You! I said, Me, why me? I never directed! They said, There’s always a first time! I had some fun anyway. It was good.

AS: Did you ever think about directing movies?
DF:
No, never, no, no, no. I like to be what I am. I am a production designer. That’s what I am.

AS: How did you start? You went to art school?
DF:
Yes, I went to a fine art school. I also studied architecture at the university. I started when I was eighteen years old. I was in school and after that I’ve always worked. Now I’m here.

AS: What do you like about being a production designer?
DF:
I like to be in charge of the look of the movie. When I was ten years old I always went to see movies. Every day, every afternoon, after school. When people are very young and they want to work in the movies they normally say they want to be an actor or a director. I always said I wanted to be the person who made

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About the Interviewer

Tom Lisowski is a production designer who has designed swamp mazes shot in China, crumbling cliffs in Utah, future arenas in South Central, dilapidated tenements and twisted laboratories under luxurious mansions... William Anthony is a Los Angeles-based commercial and editorial photographer specializing in portraiture, lifestyle and documentary imagery... Guest photographer Nelson Cragg is an award-winning cinematographer who shoots and directs television, feature films, and commercial projects. Contact ArtStars: tom@artstars.us