Thursday, 29 March 2012

Behind the scene - The first spectators (From the set of Diaz - don't clean up this blood)

Last summer I was working as a still photographer for Diaz-Don’t clean up this blood, a movie about the raid the police did in the Diaz school during the 2002 G8 in Genoa. Most of it was filmed in Romania, Bucharest. The set  was a reconstruction of via Cesare Battisti in Genoa, where the Diaz school was located, and it was about 600m long by 300m wide. I was on one corner of it, walking backward  towards the long side and trying to capture the most of the set in my photographs. I was stopped by the wooden wall behind me which delimitated the set. Suddenly I heard some movement behind the wall, just next to me. There was a long thin fissure filled with small eyes, eight of them, all looking at me.  As soon as I pointed the camera toward them they all disappeared to pop up again after a few seconds. We started this kind of game where I would rise my camera and they would hide. All of a sudden they all decided to stick in the frame, the game was over and they were willing to be photographed. I found out later that those were the eyes of a Romani family living next to the set, they were watching all the actions from behind this wall and nobody had noticed them for all the time. Those were also the eyes of the first spectators of the movie.

Monday, 26 March 2012

CiternaFotografia - Exhibition

My pictures from the Gipsy project Denied integration will be exhibited from April 28th to June 5th at CiternaFotografia Photography Festival.

“Sguardi su un paese in crisi” gathers the work of thirteen photographers, each one focusing on a specific subject but all of them portraying how Italy and its people have been affected by the economic crisis. The photographers are: Francesco Cocco, Salvatore Esposito, Alfredo Falvo, Gughi Fassino, Stephanie Gengotti, Alessandro Imbriaco, Claudio Morelli, Alessandro Pace, Giovanni Presutti, Marta Sarlo, Daniele Vita, Antonio Zambardino, Valentina Vannicola.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Behind the scene - Daniele Vicari Film Maker

As the previous blog was about Diaz – Don’t clean up this blood I would like to give a little space to the director of the movie: Daniele Vicari. 

The first time I met him, in 2007, he needed a still photographer for his next movie The past is a foreign land. I was in London at the time and went back to Italy to see him. He had previously seen my portfolio through my agency, Contrasto, but he wanted to meet me in person. He told me he liked my work but I was a bit scared of the new experience and I wanted to be honest telling him that I had never been taking pictures for a movie before. That’s why I want you in the movie. Because I like your work and being your first time you will do things with a different eye, out of the scheme.  
This was my first encounter with him and I was very surprised by the way he looked at things.

After working on The past is a foreign land I was commissioned by Wired  to take some pictures of Daniele. I was very happy about it because it was a great chance to meet him again. He is a great filmmaker but he is also a great person to be with.  He wanted the pictures to be taken in the neighborhood where he grew up, Pietralata, and in a shop just around the corner from his parent’s apartment. Here are a couple of the pictures from that day.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Behind the scene - Sleepers (from the set of Diaz - don't clean up this blood)

Diaz don’t clean up this blood is going to hit on cinemas soon.
Being the still photographer of it has been a great experience.  
There were thousands of extras, often few hundreds in the same night.  All the big scenes were filmed at night, we would start around 6pm and finish at 5am. There was an incredible amount of action and everything was frantic when the police was irrupting into the Diaz school. As soon as the ciak was released hundreds of policemen where moving and pushing, breaking doors and smashing windows. But a long time runs between two actions, and the hundreds of extras acting  where tired as they had been working before coming to the set. Many of them wouldn't do it for the money but to be part of a big movie, to feel the thrill of it. All their energies would go flat during the pause and they would be sleeping everywhere: on the sidewalks, on chairs, on the floor.

The extra pictured below was the greatest of all.
He’d been pushed out of the school to the ambulance through hundreds of people: policemen, ambulances, journalist, and yelling protesters. As soon as the action was over and the crowd dissipating everyone would relax, lighting a cigarette and gathering with friends. He was left on one side, covered in blood, on his stretcher. not even the slightest movement. Then we all realized he was sleeping. 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Behind the scene - Monster

I am starting this blog with this story because it happened while I was working on one of my most important projects : Lost Angels.

In 2005 I was documenting the reality of Skid Row, an area of a square mile where about 25.000 homeless live. I was walking those streets every morning, for about three months, with my two cameras (Nikon FM3A) loose on my side. I used to keep my fingers on them, ready to push the shutter release without being noticed. I met a lot of fantastic people in Skid Row but sometimes also weird situations. In that specific morning I was walking along a small alley with a journalist friend of mine, Jeroen Franssens, who later wrote the text for my book Lost Angels.
There was a group people sitting on the sidewalk, behind some boxes randomly piled up, and one of them, a big black guy, stood up and walked toward us. He was bare-chested and his abdomen was marked by muscles. He introduced himself as Monster.
-What are you doing here? Face those cameras down. Now you are with me and nothing is going to happen but if I wasn’t here you could have been shot-
He was a tough but nice guy, quite friendly. I explained to him that I was working for The Midnight Mission, a private organization involved in the rehabilitation of the homeless. He insisted I should face my cameras down as the situation was dangerous and I kept telling him about my good intentions.
-I am documenting how people live here because I think it's very important to rise awareness about it and then I will donate all my photos to the mission so that they can use them to rise funds. What's happening here isn't right at all.  I am …- I really tried my best to convince him what I was doing was right.
He politely let me talk for a while and listened with patience. Then looked at me and said
-Listen, also Jesus Christ wanted to do good things. He was crucified- 
He got the point. I could not find a reasonable answer. I faced my cameras down covering the lenses with my hands and moved away.

The person pictured in this post is not Monster but Greg, another person living in Skid Row