Italian film director and musician, Federico Zampaglione (Tulpa) returned to FrightFest this year with a short movie, Remember, which is inspired by nuclear disasters, and continues Zampaglione’s brand of stylish horror. Although suffering from a bad cold, he kindly sat down with STARBURST for a quick chat about the inspiration behind his new short and his plans for the future...
STARBURST: You’ve returned to directing with a short movie, Remember, and this your first one, isn't it?
Zampaglione: Yeah, I did some video clips of my band (Tiromancino), where they were like short films. It was telling stories in a few minutes. Remember was a very interesting experience because it comes from reality, a horrible reality, unfortunately. The short was made from a contest - a scriptwriter’s contest. The guy that won, this guy was very young and very talented. He did an interesting script with a storyboard. I said ‘Let’s go for it’. The screenplay was very good, actually. I changed some little things. In the screenplay, the character was a boy and it was too typical. I decided to change it and I found the location.
Where did you find that location? It’s very grim-looking.
It’s in Rome. It’s a strange place. If you go there, you feel bad for some reason. It’s like Iraq or in a war zone. We were there for two days and it felt very dangerous, you had to look where you were walking.
Did you change the location much to get it to look that dour and post-industrial?
No. We didn’t change much. We did some stuff in the room where the girl sees the operating theatre; we did some set designing. In general, we left the location as it was found.
What was it about the screenplay and story that appealed to you?
Because we forget about tragedies, and a lot of people live in those tragic conditions. I went on the internet to study it a little bit and I was shocked. What I did with the film on screen, it was less than reality. People were like monsters and young people… it was the reality. That’s why the title was Remember. We don’t want to see those things. It was a way to remind people what was going on.
The theme of it is different from your past work, the films Shadow and Tulpa.
Shadow was from reality. I can see Remember is connected to Shadow a little bit. Shadow is about war. Tulpa was more a crazy thriller without a real message in it. Tulpa was just fun. Shadow and Remember have something in common. The victims of war and victims of nuclear disasters, they are not very far apart.
How do you decide on the stylistic approach to your films? They’re very striking.
I want them to have a creepy look, but very clean at the same time. I used the same DOP as Shadow - Marco Bassano - he’s a cool guy and very talented. I also wanted the short to look like a real movie.
Did you have a lot of money to make it?
Not a lot of money, but there was a budget. We got money from RAI, the national television, it’s a very big thing in Italy. After Tulpa, they wanted to do a short film for television, with me.
How is the film industry in Italy, these days? Is it still tough to make a movie?
It depends on what you want to do. There is a certain type of cinema that’s popular for everyone. Comedy is popular. It’s a little bit more difficult when it comes to independent movies; Dramas and psychological horror movies or action, whatever. A lot of the action movies, horror and superhero films – it’s all American. Italy is a little bit out of the game, when it comes to those films. Mostly, it’s about comedies.
Have you thought about doing something outside of the horror genre?
Yes, I have been thinking of that. Sooner or later, I will doing something like that, just to challenge myself. To see how far I can go outside of horror.
Do you have any plans for a new feature-length movie?
No. I’m concentrating on my music. Although, I had an idea, just a few days ago, actually. I can’t tell you what it’s about, it’s too early, but it is a claustrophobic supernatural thriller.
Remember is currently being screened at festivals around the globe. Shadow is available on DVD, while Tulpa is still awaiting a UK release.