Welcome to Filmmakers Academy’s Member Spotlight (formerly Shane’s Inner Circle)! Our members are what make Filmmakers Academy such an incredible filmmaking community. We want to celebrate their stories with this Spotlight Series. Our members are so inspiring and I am in awe every day of how dedicated each member is to this craft, which only fuels the drive behind creating the best content from my decades of experience on set for Filmmakers Academy. Today we’re focusing on Italian member Luca Ricci.
Read on, be inspired, and join us on the inside so you can take your own work further. Enjoy!
My name is Luca Ricci. I live in Ischia, a small island in the gulf of Naples, South Italy. I was born and raised here. Music has been in my life since I was a child. In the early 90s, I started producing dance music, then started touring the world as a DJ for almost twenty years now.
In 2008, I bought my ﬁrst camera. It was a Canon 5d Mark II paired with a 35mm L lens as I wanted to ﬁlm and document my travels and DJ set… but, soon I realized that I seriously needed to study photography and cinema language.
I slowly became very passionate about the art of storytelling, and I started my company, Aenaria Recordings Studio for Audio|Visual and this is how I make my living now.
You can imagine how diﬃcult it would be for me to attend professional ﬁlm school. The only real way is to learn with web communities and so I came across Shane & Lydia @ Shane’s Inner Circle.
Well, I can only say, “GRAZIE!”
I could not imagine my life without the Filmmakers Academy now. Since I joined, it has become essential to me.
Shane is a mentor to me and I respect him greatly. I have watched many of his ﬁlms and followed his career.
On August 31st, 2017, Shane posted on his Instagram:
“Bullet train to Naples. Scouting today. Incredible countryside. Cannot wait for the island Ischia.”
WOW! Mamma Mia!! Can you imagine how I felt ?!
You gotta be kidding me!
I loved their previous ﬁlm, “Father & Daughters!”
I had to write Shane.
I also contacted Lydia on Facebook, as I was impatient as I imagined Shane was busy traveling, and she kindly replied to me.
I then called Michelangelo Messina, Art Director of his “Ischia Film Festival.” Without Michelangelo and his work, Gabriele Muccino probably would never have chosen Ischia as the location for this ﬁlm.
I still have goosebumps…
Well, the Universe has been very generous to me, because a few hours later, Shane replied, and the next day on September 1st, 2017 at 8:00 AM, I was having breakfast with him at the Hermitage Hotel!
We discussed the ﬁlm, the storyboard, and in general my skills, gear, and possible collaboration. Shane was curious to see that he found a Filmmakers Academy member happy to learn from him on such a small island. He also introduced me to Gabriele.
I am a very energetic person. They were nice to me. We started laughing, and I felt good vibes from both. I offered my help for anything, really: scouting locations around the island, camera operating, ﬁlming backstage, or just… coffee lol!
It was a day to remember, a great opportunity for my career, and also because my Argentinian wife, Soﬁa,a professional Tango Dancer, left for a tour in China on the same day. This was a great opportunity for her career too.
A week later, on a very windy day, Shane rang me from Rome asking me to shoot waves crashing on the rocks in Sant Angelo, a cute village of ﬁsherman here on the southwest side of the island where we later ﬁlmed some sequences.
We discussed how to frame shots, what kind of plates he needed, and what camera and lenses I should ﬁlm this on. I own a 3x Canon C100. They are great for what I do, but I don’t use external recorders and they are full HD only, so they were not ideal for us. Instead, I happened to have my Blackmagic Cinema Camera 2.5K that could give us a 12bit RAW dng sequence that would easily match RED ﬁles, the best option we had to serve our Visual Eﬀects Team, EDI, in Milan.
So I went, took my gear, and I started ﬁlming for Shane!
During the shoot, I updated Shane on the weather conditions and the shooting progress, and this is how he replied:
During the second week of September, Shane arrived in Ischia from Rome with Gabriele and only their respective assistants (Po Chan and Roy). I met them at Villa Gancia, a luxurious house from the ’50s, where we probably shot 70% of the ﬁlm.
On that day, we had another storm with big waves. I kept ﬁlming them with my BMCC and Shane’s Canon 1DC in 4k so we could stabilize the footage in post. I had my Miller tripod which is sturdy enough, but it was very windy on the terrace by the sea.
This was the ﬁrst time in my life I had a chance to see a real DOP discussing scenes with a real Director. None of the crew were yet on the island at the time, and it was an intimate moment. Gabriele and Shane were under an olive oil tree discussing a scene that we ﬁlmed only a few weeks later with a complex crane shot with a Freefly Movi XL where Shane was on his wheels. Magic!
This is a small video Shane asked me to take with his iPhone:
I am not used to this in my everyday life, so forgive me, I consider myself a student. Mostly, I shoot wedding videos and I have a ton to learn. I have never worked on a real set with professionals, and I mean successful professionals in the cinema industry. To me, this was fascinating.
Shane gave me the opportunity to experience all of this, as well as serve as a “C-camera” operator on set holding an expensive RED rigged with Leica Cine Glass and all of the bells and whistles with 2nd AC Operators for each of us.
This is a short BTS:
We sometimes had four cameras running at the same time. Shane and Gabriele are very open-minded artists; they would discuss, after blocking actors, the diﬀerent possibilities of framing shots, and lens choices. Also, if something didn’t always work, I could easily discuss this with both of them.
This was a big lesson for me to start with: We need to be humble and be able to have a dialog on set. We had around eighty crew in total all working to serve one person’s needs: the Director.
Shane asked me to shoot a night-to-day timelapse sequence scene located at “Terazza deli Ulivi” on the Aragonese Castle with a combination of a slide, pan, and tilt move. I used my CineDrive system for this on a 1.5m CineSlider from Kessler. I had to program keyframe groups on the KOS software running on my MacBook Pro without ever stopping.
Now, in words, this is cool, but in reality, shooting timelapse is not for everyone. I ﬁlmed this sequence 4 times! Anything can go wrong and you can easily screw up! The more variables you put into the equation, the more risk you have to deal with, so you need to think and plan wisely. For example, a simple bump on the rig and it’s noticeable in the ﬁnal result. Plus, weather conditions need to be taken into account, and that played a BIG role in this.
Production had to ask permission for this since the Castle belongs to a rich family on the island and it’s crowded with tourists all day. They had to set up a wooden frame window and some c-stands, and bring up a small generator, umbrella, and a blanket because it gets very humid and cold at night.
The 1st time-lapse was really a test, and there was some technical problem we had to deal with. I called one of my dear friends from Naples, Antonio Azzurro, who I met through the Filmmakers Academy (formerly the Inner Circle). The moment I told him I was shooting for Shane and Gabriele, he jumped up from his chair and offered to help! Shane was very happy to hear this because, at end of the day, we are a big family.
Essentially, I was looking for a Canon 6D because it has a FF sensor so it’s better in low light, plus my 7D has no wiﬁ. For this, I had to be able to control exposure without the risk of bumping the camera. We also had to create a dummy battery for his Canon 6D (later, I bought this camera from him because I had to have the freedom to re-shoot this timelapse). A single LP-E6 battery won’t last more than 2 hours, and we had no battery grip.
We had little time, so Antonio worked on a solution overnight with a D-Tap adapter and some power distribution that he landed from his friend Francesco Morra, a professional Steadicam Operator in Naples, that happened to have one, and together, with Carlo Alessandro Argenzio, they sorted this adapter out.
The next day, Antonio, who is a professional photographer, took the ferry boat to Ischia and brought a gorgeous 35mm Zeiss Milvus Prime Lens which he happened to have for testing and reviews for Zeiss.
So we rigged it all up. I programmed the move together with 1st VFX representative Francesco from EDI – who later would CGI the sequence.
We waited until 3 am to start the timelapse. We had a very clear day, no clouds – a boring one. It got bright very quickly, especially since we have lights from nearby Naples. The battery from the Kessler that served distribution to the Cinedrive Motion Control system didn’t last long enough for the 3 hours. We had to stop the time-lapse almost at the very end.
So, I had to reshoot this sequence. Shane suggested over 6 hours this time so we could get stars and hopefully clouds. I had to order a 256GB SD Card from Amazon. I also bought a dummy battery for my Canon 6d. I asked production to run a long power cable from a nearby bathroom so this time, I had enough power and memory. After three weeks, I got it all, and I was able to re-shoot for the second tentative.
We had a G7 event on the island and Ischia was armed with police everywhere. The lift was not working, so I had to bring all the gear using the stairs. This time, I went alone as Antonio was busy on a shoot. After spending all day and night up there… the weather did not help, it got very foggy… and so it was a second failure.
In the following days, I had to help Shane. We had a week shooting dialogs at Villa and Sant Angelo as C-Cam. Also, one of the actors got sick and we had to work and reschedule the time-lapse. So ﬁnally, on October 30th, before we all wrapped, I was able to set it all up again and shoot two more days. This time, I kept the rig over 48 hrs and it happened to have clouds and a clear sunrise as Gabriele had hoped.
Last note: At the beginning of December, I got a call from the VFX guys asking me to solve a big problem they were facing. I went to the villa and shot a few seconds of the crashing waves with my drone since Gabriele wanted to use a scene (bird’s eye view shot with the crane that sunny day).
It was very windy. I risked losing my drone, but I managed to lift and fly for a few seconds in the air to get the same angle we needed.
What I learned:
Filming is not for everyone! When we watch a movie, I often think of the effort and all the work behind it.
Simple things can be a nightmare to achieve sometimes and only passion, love, devotion, and talent, followed by knowledge and technology, will bring results!
Often, between scenes, I followed Shane while he was getting ready for the next shot. I was trying to read his mind and vision for the look and mood he was going for. He paints with lights! It was just like his tutorials from Filmmakers Academy! it is incredible how small details translate into the ﬁnal scene.
There was some yelling involved during the process sometimes as not everybody on set spoke English well. I felt Shane’s frustration, but just like it happens with pros, he did a great job, always with a smile for everyone. It was another important lesson for me: to be nice to everyone and apologize if you need to before you wrap up for the day and walk away with a smile on your face.
I remember on Aragonese “Spooky“ Castle, we had weird wiﬁ and radio interference probably due to antennas placed near Naples. There were all sorts of technical issues. Nothing was working! Radio, transmitters, microphones… A very diﬃcult situation to deal with along with power cutting down sometimes because they had to extend long power cables around. But, none of the crew nor Shane gave up! He always nailed the shot achieving perfection.
Often you do not have time for lunch because sh*t happens on set and you have a crew and director waiting for you!
There are magical moments that my eyes ﬁlmed and I will always carry in my heart forever from this marvelous experience… From this chair (as I am in Argentina now), I want to say Thank You to Shane & Lydia, and Filmmakers Academy (formerly the Inner Circle). I hope to serve again for future ﬁlms, maybe in Europe. It has been an honor for me to work on this. Thank you, Gabriele Muccino, Po Chan, Antonio Azzurro, Francesco Morra, Leone FIlms Group, Lotus Productions, and everyone involved!
We are a big family! I can’t wait to watch this ﬁlm, “A Casa Tutti Bene.”
~ Ciao Luca