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Making A Good Documentary: A Chat with Luca Centoni

1. Please tell us a bit about how you became into filmmaking. How and where did you learn to make films and start this profession? Is Gudrid the Fair your latest work? I started at 12 years old as a photographer and then at 22 I moved on to making my first documentary "Discovering Queensland”. I'm basically self-taught and started in Livorno in 1985 after having been a photographer for the previous eight years. “Gudrid the Fair” is the 89th film that I shot between November and December 2022, right now I've just finished my 90th.

2. How did the story of this project, centered upon a Viking Icelandic woman Gudrid (actress Amy Erin Johnson) strike you? And how long did it take you and your writers to achieve the final script? I was struck by the authentic and original story that has been left out of many historical books but not the Viking Sagas. Then Gudrid was an exceptional woman for her time being a great explorer, navigator, wife, and mother of the first European born on the American continent. I never make screenplays for my documentary films as they are not fiction.

3. As an Italian filmmaker, what were the difficulties for you to make a film in English? I live in the US so it's not a problem for me at all.

4. Please tell us how you chose your actress Amy Erin Johnsonand how much practice was needed to achieve the desired result. Amy has an incredible resemblance to the real Gudrid who lived 1000 years before her and can be seen in a painting. In addition to this, she is a very beautiful, gifted, and prepared actress. So no practice was necessary as she immediately fell into the role without any problems. I really enjoyed working with her and in fact, she will be doing a new TV show under my direction.

5. Are you interested in making films with a historical background? To what extentdo you think historical subjects are attractive to today's audience? The "Templars" TV series ( of which this episode is a part is clearly historical by definition. A subject, regardless of the era it represents, is sufficient if it is attractive in vision and communication without boring the viewer.

6. In this film, you adopt a combination of different narrative methods including narration, pictures of nature and places, and of course presenting the character. How did you come up with this narrative style?

As I explained in the answer to your previous question, it is essential never to bore the audience. The variety of narrative methods contributes to the movement and fluidity of the film, making it more attractive and less predictable. In any case, even within the same TV series, I never make a film the same as another.

7. Do you think that documentary filmmaking has become easier in our time due to the possibilities that modern tools provide for the filmmaker? And is there a good market for documentaries? Making a good documentary doesn't depend on what you have available but on the style of making it. The market in the USA is good while in Italy it is not, above all due to the presence of too many reality shows and streams TV management is still behind compared to other countries.

8. To what extent do you think film festivals can help or promote documentary makers? What about governments and private institutions? I think film festivals help a lot with television and cinema promotion and they are certainly an occasion for young talents. Private institutions and governments can also be, to the extent that they decide to actually support the bodies that promote festivals or individual projects.

9. Please tell us a little about the editing process of this film. Considering that the narrative line is made of different puzzles, how long did it take to edit this work? 7-10 days including serious technical problems due to new material defective at the origin in the manufacturing factory.

10. If possible, please tell us about the work you are currently doing or the initial idea you are considering.

We are currently filming on set a new TV series "A & F" Amy & Francesca a Gourmet and Wine Story. Interpreted by the American actress Amy Erin Johnson and by the Italian journalist and writer Francesca Negri. The first season consists of six episodes and takes place between Texas and Tuscany.


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