Production has just wrapped on the 15-minute, short film in English, “Florence in Love,” scheduled to publicly premier at the Italian city’s Odeon Cinema this July. A comedy by genre, the behind-the-scenes vision has more serious intentions.
“This film is the homage to my city,” proclaimed director Diana Santi. “I’m totally pro Italy and I’m in love with Florence.”
An international cast tells the story of an affluent, New York couple abroad. The husband, English actor Sean James Sutton, is in Florence to close a business deal, while his wife, played by American Amy Fowkes, has a very different agenda. She’s secretly brought along her younger lover and organized an elaborate plan to spend her free time in his arms.
“It’s actually kind of a true story,” revealed Santi. “It’s not my story,” she quickly added. Although her Italian-American love interest did play a role in the film’s plot; it was his mother who recounted the real-life version of a friend’s crazy adventure, which Santi’s veteran ear quickly identified as, “basically a short movie.”
Keeping with the theme, production was surprisingly succinct. “Florence in Love” was shot entirely in its namesake city in just three days and three hours. “We’re not like the ‘lazy Italians’ that is the cliché in America,” Santi declared. “We have to change this cliché. The new generations are different and we’re here to prove it.”
Using the highest quality equipment, a wardrobe from the most prestigious fashion boutique in the city, as well as locations including Piazzale Michelangelo and luxury hotels, 50,000E would have been a realistic production budget. So, how is it possible that the film cost only 5,000E to make?
“We’re Florentine. We’re from there. We know how to make it happen and we know how to make it happen right,” Santi responded. Using her connections, she was able to dramatically cut costs without the least bit of sacrifice. The Tuscan Film commission and City of Florence immediately jumped on board with logistical and location support, Luisa Via Roma designer fashion provided the cast with little red couture dresses and over-the-top hats, and Silvano Litta of Hotel Tornabuoni gave the crew permission to “do whatever [they] wanted” with the space, including shooting for free.
“It’s easier to get sponsors [here] than in another place,” noted Santi. “There isn’t enough action in Florence. When you, as a young person, try to do something to make this city more alive…I think all the Florentine’s want Florence to be well represented and promoted abroad.”
Being Florentine herself, Santi wants exactly that. She founded NY-based Purple Reel Productions to make her city accessible to independent filmmakers around the world. “I see many productions that would like to shoot in Italy but don’t have the courage to do it because they don’t have a liason,” she explained. “We can be that liason.”
“Florence in Love” has been sent out to international film festivals and is being heavily promoted in America, China, India, Canada and Brazil, countries that Santi believes can greatly benefit from all the city has to offer. “Every time you pronounce the magic word, ‘Florence,’ everybody melts,” she illustrated. “Cinema has to take advantage.”
And through her passionate dedication, the youngest generation of filmmakers is learning how. In addition to managing Purple Reel Productions, Santi works as the Overseas Program Director for the NY Film Academy, bringing her students back to the city of her origin every Summer. “I try to create this bridge between Florence and New York,” she said, which has included pioneering a 1-year study abroad program to launch in September 2012. Upon arrival, everyone in the program will get their own Piaggo Vespa. True to her word, Santi definitely knows how to make things happen right.
For more information on “Florence in Love,” visit the film’s official website.