Dante Ferretti

Dante Ferretti

the set. And then one day I learned this word, art director. I said, Oh, this is what I want to be. An art director. And then I studied to be an art director. At that time in Italy we made almost three hundred movies a year. And I’m very lucky because I started with the most important director at the time, Pier Paolo Pasolini. First I was an assistant art director and then I became an art director and then they changed the title from art director to production designer.

AS: What do you look for in your crew when you’re hiring crew?
DF:
When I’m in New York or in London or LA or in China or wherever, normally I can’t bring the crew that I work with in Italy so I have to go outside and look at resumes. But resumes mean nothing. I need to meet somebody. It’s what I feel when I look at somebody, I can say this is the right person, this is the right art director, this is the right construction coordinator, this is a good painter or sculptor. Of course I also have to see what they did but so far I haven’t made any mistakes this way. Or maybe I did and I didn’t know! So far what we did was not bad because we had really good people. This is very important because you can design a fantastic movie and then if you have the right people you can make this movie fantastic but if you don’t have the right people it could be a piece of shit!

AS: What are the qualities that a production designer should have?
DF:
A production designer should not be arrogant. They have to always be low-profile. They have to understand what the director wants, and the story. Sometimes they call you, waiting for you to give them a good idea. I don’t like production designers who talk about themselves. I like to be low-profile. I think that’s the best way to do the job and then if you do a good job, create a good look, it’s good for you and it’s good for the people who go to see the movie. Because when you go to the movie theater to see a movie and you believe what is behind the story that is the most important thing.

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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