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DP Vittorio Zorini on the explosion of colors in Bang Bang Baby with ARRI equipment

10/06/2022

Produced by Amazon Studios, Italian series Bang Bang Baby tells the story of a teenage girl who discovers the truth about her criminal father and becomes fascinated by evil. In collaboration with DPs Daria D Antonio and Timoty Aliprandi, Vittorio Omodei Zorini, cinematographer of films like Gli equilibristi and Brutti e cattivi and series such as Diavoli, creates a mesmerizing world of new light and colors in 1980s Milan. In the interview, he talks about illuminating the set with ARRI lights and shooting in wide format with the ALEXA Mini LF.

Into which world does Bang Bang Baby take us?

The series is told from the point of view of Alice Giammatteo, a fatherless teenager who suddenly discovers that her father is alive and belongs to a prominent Ndrangheta family. From that moment on, her identity and her life change profoundly. Visually we tried to create a world of new light and colors seen through Alice's virgin eyes.

Copyright Andrea Pirrello/Prime Video & Amazon Studios

DP Zorini created a psychedelic 1980s atmosphere in Bang Bang Baby

Where did you shoot and for how long?

We had about 15 set days per episode for ten episodes. Six episodes were directed by Michele Alhaique, two by Margherita Ferri and two by Giuseppe Bonito. I photographed the first four episodes all directed by Michele Alhaique, four episodes were photographed by Daria DAntonio and two by Timoty Aliprandi. There was great collaboration and teamwork that allowed us to give Bang Bang Baby a strong identity and visual coherence. The first phase of Alice's story takes place in Bussolengo, in the provincial areas of Lombardy, and then proceeds to 1980s Milan, which we recreated mainly in Rome. The locations include Calabria, which was also shot mainly in Lazio, the region around Rome. Unfortunately, we shot in the toughest period of COVID-19 and it was not easy to move from region to region.

What guidance did you get from director Michele Alhaique?

We did a lot of preparation work because we wanted the series to have a very strong identity. It is a period story of a particular era, namely the 1980s, seen through the eyes of a young girl who comes from the provinces and finds herself catapulted into a glittering, colorful, and, in its own way, intrusive Milan. That world needed to be perceived as modern-not to evoke the past but the future. Alice finds herself looking at her new identity, new places, and new stories, witnessing an explosion of color and brilliance contrasted by areas of uncertainty and darkness. We tried to be excessive in our choices, unafraid to step on the gas. As references we took directors and films that describe reality, but with a borderline look: the Coen brothers, Paolo Sorrentino, Paul Thomas Anderson, certain things from Euphoria, looking for our own way that was a bit excessive but still anchored in realism. The camera was always very close to the face of the protagonist because we wanted to look at the world through her eyes and interpret what she sees, rather than observe it as a spectator.

Copyright Andrea Pirrello/Prime Video & Amazon Studios

Fascinated by evil: protagonist Alice in Bang Bang Baby

How was your experience with the ALEXA Mini LF?

We are very satisfied and proud that we made this choice. The wide format gave us a lot: It allowed us to shoot with wide-angle lenses but with depth of field closer to medium lenses, providing great cleanliness and quality. We were always with 21 or 29, very close to the characters, to render a somewhat distorted idea of reality.

Were there any special situations to handle during the shoot?

Michele is a director with clear ideas regarding storytelling through images: He always knows exactly which shot determines that precise moment of a scene. He doesnt shoot and then leave the choice to editing. This translated into a constant search for the right shot with the right light management. From time to time, this led to somewhat complex situations that felt challenging.

Do you remember particularly challenging scenes?

In the beginning we shot in Civitavecchia, in a large abandoned prison, where we were dealing with significant spaces. We were starting from scratch with set design and lighting. Set designer Tamara Marini and decorator Alessandra Querzola did a great job. In Civitavecchia we shot the scene where Adriano Giannini meets his daughter in prison for the first time. An important moment that we wanted to emphasize with light, as well as Alice's introduction into the Ndrangheta family. There were also many scenes shot on location, such as those in Alice's and Grandma Lina's house. We wanted the latter to be a place frozen in time; a Milan of color and excess, a kind of cave, an old house where light and color were elements that only came from the outside. Alices house, on the other hand, is characterized by pastel colors: pink, orange, brown. Initially it is the only warm place for her. Then the girl changes, and with her, on an almost unconscious level, so does her gaze and the contrast becomes more obvious. In some of Alice's mental journeys we tried to recreate visual atmospheres of 1980s American series such as Family Ties or The Bionic Woman.

How did the ALEXA Mini LF handle the various lighting situations?

Very well. The series has a lot of dark areas and prominent blacks, but at the same time strong lighting. The interiors are always lit from the outside. The camera, which is very versatile, responded extremely well, with a great reading of the blacks and the ability to contain the highlights. It was definitely the right medium. We tended to work at 800 ASA, the camera's native ASA, which also offers the great convenience of having internal ND filters.

How did you control the camera movements?

We tried to have a form of classicism: very little handheld camera s
LINK: https://www.arri.com/news-en/dp-v-zorini-in-bang-baby-with-arri-equipm...
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