Interview with Andrea Ricca - Andrea Ricca

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Interview with Andrea Ricca

- Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Andrea (which in Italy is both a male and female name, I am a man) I was born in Italy in 1974, I am graduating from the art school and I have a degree in Sociology. Since 1998 I have started producing and directing independent short films, shot at zero budget. At the beginning they were short films with a social theme, which in those days, since there was no internet yet, were created to participate in cinema festivals.

In the early 2000s I started to get interested in computer graphics and I learned the 3DS Max software on my own, which I used to create monstrous creatures to be included in genre short films. These shorts, the first of which is called "The Guardian" from 2009, were posted on YouTube and fortunately did quickly, with positive reviews from magazines and websites. In 2017, my YouTube channel had accumulated over 40 million views overall, with fifty thousand subscribers and about one million views per month. Unfortunately, the channel, for reasons of YouTube warnings, was not monetizable and then in February 2018 I closed it and I opened a new one where I reloaded all the short films. Obviously being a new channel now it will take patience to pick up the pace of the views.

I take care of all the stages of production of the shorts, from direction to graphics to post-production. All the videos were made at zero budget, without external contributions or remuneration to the participants, with the only help of an HD camera and a PC and obtained international reviews such as Starburst, Scream Horror Magazine, Dread Central, Horror Movies Ca, Gorezone, Horror Society, Bloody Disgusting, Famous Monsters of Filmland, Sfx, Ecran Fantastique, etc. in addition to participation in numerous film festivals, among others at: Fantafestival, Miami Film Festival, Vienna Film Festival, Los Angeles Cine Fest, International Fantastic Film Festival, Cleveland Comic Con and many others.

- What is your primary motivation for making movies? How did you get started? Was there a time where you just decided, "okay I'm gonna make some movies"?

As a child I loved drawing and I was fond of comics and for this I wrote and drew stories. Then I always started as a child to get passionate about cinema, as an evolution of comics through moving images. Cinema initially became an obsession and for this I turned on the television and watched any film that appeared on the channels, of any genre, even if it had already started. It was enough that it was a movie. When I was 13, I started buying some cinema magazines and therefore learning more technical aspects of this language.
After realizing that I was buying these magazines month after month and reading them with so much interest, I realized that I could categorize myself as a "movie buff".

We were in the mid-80s and in those pre-adolescent years I began to watch movies continuously, especially genre and especially American films and being a very sensitive person these films gave me beautiful emotions, made me dream of a future life full of adventures and optimism. A tender and sweet period for me.
In those moments I couldn't keep these emotions inside me and I wanted to share them with others, moreover those films gave me so many ideas to tell. After some time I bought the first consumer camera and started experimenting with how to tell stories and since then I really liked special effects and started reading books on the subject. Initially I didn't have a PC to edit so I bought an analog mixer which I hooked up to two VCRs.
So I started making the first shorts for the festivals and so on.

My real motivation is to share the emotions received from the films and if even a person, a kid for example, is inspired, amazed or excited and amused, as happens to me many years ago, from one of my videos my mission is accomplished.

- Please elaborate on how you go about making these movies. Your workflow and production process. (We would like to know how exactly you go about. From inspiration, to the production process, the casting and more, Please feel free to elaborate in-depth).

My production process was born by exploring the genres I prefer, which are adventure films, science fiction, horror and b-movies in general, think of some film that particularly struck me and create some ideas from it, keeping in the short film formula with creatures in CGI lasting a maximum of 10 minutes, structured as small films, that is, using the traditional narrative structure in a few minutes, specifically: The Hero's journey, with its phases of beginning, development, and closing (with half the various other steps
) so as to give the viewer the idea of ​​a small film.
This is because I have noticed that a good number of directors use a different language for short films, for example by structuring them with an open ending, not closed, or with a surprise ending, or as simple sequences without prologue or contextualization.

The idea was born by comparing the intentions with my real abilities to create those specific special effects and if I think I am able to make them I step to design a storyboard. I don't write scripts and if there are dialogues I put them as comics in the storyboard. Usually, however, all my short films are without dialogue because from the beginning I thought of putting them on YouTube to target them to the widest possible audience and therefore, considering the subtitles uncomfortable, a film that tells itself without words can be understood all over the world.

Once the storyboard is finished, I decide if I have to be the one to interpret the film myself, with the difficulty of filming myself, or if I need an actor or an actress. I set days for live shooting and usually, in a maximum of seven days, I finish shooting.
Then I take the footage taken with the camera and upload it to the PC. Here, I start at the same time with editing with Adobe Premiere software, post-production and coloring and visual effects with Adobe After Effects and at the same time I begin to model and animate creatures with 3DS Max software.
Then I insert the 3D characters into the live images, then I put a musical soundtrack of royalty-free music from the internet, and then I put the sound effects. This post-shoot part usually takes me three or four months.

After all this I post the video on YouTube and start promoting it on social networks.

- Your movies seem to have quite a fantastical element to it, obviously a bit of sci-fi and horror is to be found, in it. Can you elaborate why?

I have always been with "my head in the clouds" a bit immersed in my inner world and in my mind to fantasize and therefore I like films that being far from reality have to live on ideas. Daily reality doesn't stimulate me enough and so I like fantastic films where the viewer is waiting for the director's next idea.

Art films speak to intellectuals who can then indirectly create opinions in society through their own cultural channels. Genre films speak to normal people and by telling a kind of fairy tale they pass on indirect moral, perhaps important educational messages.

- Your films certainly seem to embody the spirit of the classic creature features of the past, but with a modern twist. During its time, and even now, to a degree, such films have always had their charm and have quite a bit of captivating value to it. Why do you think the reason for this is? Is it something deeply ingrained in the human psyche about being drawn to terrible and fantastic monsters?

I don't know how to give a precise answer to this question, but I know that I too am a victim of the fascination of "monsters" perhaps because they represent pure fantasy. Inventing an imaginary creature is a creative job.

- Your films are chock full of fun special effects. How are they made? What tools do you use?

Creating special effects makes me feel like I have some tools to make my fantasies come true and makes me feel like a little entertainment director whose job is to engage and captivate the audience for a few moments in a world of fantasies and emotions.
The only tool I use is the 3DS max software which is used for 3D modeling but also for animation.
In the mid-90s, while I was on vacation by the sea, I found a magazine dedicated exclusively to special effects on the newsstands. On the cover was a preview of Spielberg's "The Lost World" and the article explained the wonders of the new "computer graphics". So I inquired about what were the most used software in the sector, I bought some user manuals, I learned one and made my first animation which consisted of a camera that approached a refrigerator and it opened and showed bottles of Coca Cola that danced.
Soon I made the warrior skeleton you see in the short film "The Guardian".

- What are your top 5 favorite films? Favorite genre? Director?

My favorite directors are Spielberg, Lucas, Zemeckis, Brian De Palma. My favorite movies are Raiders of lost ark, Back to the Future, Star Wars.

- What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers who would perhaps want to follow in your footsteps?

I would recommend starting with the few resources you have available, without waiting for the right camera, the right actor, the necessary money, etc. because it is with experience that you improve and it will not be external objects that give you the energy and desire to do but your internal passion.
Then I would recommend moving on to the next job as soon as the first is finished, so as not to waste time and not fossilize on their products and gain further experience.

- Out of all your creations, which do you hold as the most special and why?

My favorite short film is "The Furfangs" because it seems to me the one in which I managed to capture the naivety, the humor, the tenderness of those "stupid" science fiction comedy films that I enjoyed as a kid.

- What plans do you have for the future?

For now, after about twenty films, I'm still, I'm not going to produce any more for the moment. I am promoting the work already done on the internet a bit and if some feedback will come out that can give me a new motivation to continue I will try to do something new.

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