A Path From Architecture to Film


Interview with Ludovica Ferrario.

You graduated from architecture. How did you get involved in film industry and this kind of art?

I wasn’t an architect yet when I got involved in movies. I was studying architecture, and as we always say it was by chance but, to be honest, it wasn’t. I met a woman who worked as a set dresser in opera; she also did some work in Zeffirellis’ Tea with Mussolini. She occasionally asked me ‘Why don’t you come since you are a student of architecture and give me a hand with some taking of measurements?’ I started with her and never stopped. I studied architecture for a couple of hours in the morning then followed the preparations of the movie where I had a chance to be a trainee.

What made you to fall in love with such work?

I’ve always had an interest in the space and psychology, and as an architect there was always something missing which I could find in the moving images. It is the fact of building a world which is a story on screen, and which makes them incredible. I must say that if I think of the moments that I like the most is when I sit on a chair of a cinema. Even before the movie starts, it is already something magical.

You mentioned the importance of the light many times during your lecture. Why is it so important to you?

There is no architecture and there is no shape if there is no light. Emptiness and proportions are given by light. Light is very important to me because it is very important to do with a space. There is no architecture, no object with no light and light is a mood, it’s an atmosphere. So we cannot describe what is happening and what the feelings of our character without light.

I assume you use plenty of sketches during your work. Do you make a storyboard as well?

In case of Paolo Sorrentino, he precisely knows how he wants to describe and how he wants to shoot a scene. There is, nevertheless, never a storyboard that he does or shares with us; it is something which is a work in process in his head. It highly depends on the director. We usually do not work with storyboards, basically because we work with preparing 260-degrees-situation on set which means there is no necessity to pre-visualise this unless it has to do with something that production considers as a cost. I don’t know how to draw well but I think I have an instinct of drawing something that we are seeking for. It sometimes can be colour or an image, so it is not necessarily the real design of the set. I am very glad to have great team that helps me with that, either with drawing the digital image on computer or drawing by hand.

During your lecture you said that you like working in existing space, not in the studio. Why? Is it more challenging for you?

It is becoming more challenging for me to work in the studio because I need to work there from scratch on stage, and it is more difficult to achieve an effect of a place to look like it was there. It is different in the existing space because I don’t want to show there too much evidence of my presence, unless it is asked from the narration or from the script. This is my architecture background which naturalizes it for me to work in a real space rather than on the stage. Nonetheless, the creative process is such changeable so answers which I gave today may not be true tomorrow. The Young Pope gave me a chance to play with a part of myself which I didn’t know before.

Did your study in architecture help you somehow in the work that you are doing nowadays?

Absolutely yes, it helped me as the method that has to do with proportions and with the research to find the locations. It gave me an approach to design which obviously is good, and necessary even in the production designing.

What are your plans for the nearest future? Do you want to do the same things that you are doing now or you want to try something extraordinary?

I think that extraordinary thing of every single one of us is that we never think to which extent we can build a relation to different things which give us a potential of working with another part of us. So I strongly believe that everyone should change work every ten years if he or she has a chance to work long enough to say: ‘I have done this for a while’. You can change your work for something that might give you a different perspective of what you have already done. In the future, I’d love to work in 3D and continue my research of connection between the space and psychology.

Questions by Kornel Nicoń
Written by Katarzyna Andrzejczak
Edited by Lehat Salah Rasheed