Shadow Writer-Director Federico Zampaglione – Interview

Federico Zampaglione at Fright FestFederico Zampaglione’s stunning genre debut SHADOW was well received at Frightfest in August, before moving on to the Sitges festival in October. He’s now being heralded as Italy’s next master of horror, following in the footsteps of genre greats such as Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava. I was lucky enough to catch up with him for a quick interview:
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: Federico, you are best known for playing with your band TIROMANCINO, can you tell me what your fans think of your decision to make SHADOW?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: I haven’t talked to them about my decision. I’m trying to keep my music career separate from directing horror flicks. However I’m quite sure they won’t easily understand this move. Indeed, my music style is far removed from a film like SHADOW. Sometimes, to be truly creative you mustn’t think too much about your fans reactions.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: What about the rest of the band, are they suitably impressed?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: My brother Francesco Zampaglione and Andrea Moscianese (both members of Tiromancino) composed the score for SHADOW, so they’re happy and motivated about this new adventure in the horror field. We have created a brand new musical project named “The Alvarius” in order to compose and arrange Horror films scores.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: How long did it take for you to write SHADOW – was it a quick process?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: It took one year of writing. A good screenplay always takes time to be really efficient and ready to be shot.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: Can you tell me who you are most inspired by in the genre?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: First of all by my maestros as Dario Argento, Lamberto Bava, Ruggero Deodato and Lucio Fulci. Then I love Carpenter, Cronenberg and Lynch too. More recent influences include Pascal Laugier (Martyrs), Balaguero and Plaza’s REC and that great film “Let The Right One In”
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: An impossible question maybe, but can you tell me your top five horror films?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: 1) Suspiria 2) Deep Red 3) Halloween (the original) 4) Hellraiser 5) The Sixth Sense. In a way you’re right – your question is an impossible one.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: In spite the great genre talents to come out of Italy, horror films are not as popular in Italy as they are elsewhere, why do you think that is?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: Because of the Industry. They don’t want to invest money in something they can’t easily sell to TV. That’s why they’d rather buy horror films from other countries, just to distribute them. Such a bad mentality. They are putting our genre tradition down. Anyway, I trust things are about to finally change.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: I understand Dario Argento read your screenplay before you started making the film, can you tell me what advice he gave you, and did you follow it?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: Originally the main character was an Italian soldier, and then Dario, after reading the script, did suggest I make him American. He also advised me to shoot the film in English to have a real international chance. He was right. God bless him!
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: I know he’s seen the end product, what did he think?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: He told me he was really proud and excited I will never forget that moment, a real treat.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: Your father helped you write the screenplay, and I know there’s some pretty disturbing stuff in there – what does your mother think of it?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: My father is an uncommon and crazy dad and a great genre fan. He has also helped me compose many songs for Tiromancino. Actually he’s the real rock star in my family! When we were writing the nastiest moments of SHADOW, my mum was really disturbed and pretty disappointed. She used to complain a lot about the sense of all that evil.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: I know you specifically wanted Nuot Arquint to play Shadow, why was that? What was it about him that appealed to you?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: I found him surfing on the internet and I was immediately captivated and scared by his figure. I think he has the potential to become one of the more scary and creepy actor-monsters. The incredible thing is he doesn’t need any make up to be that sinister.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: Did the remote location pose any problems for you – and what about that weather?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: Tarvisio is a desolate, wild, and cold mountain place up in the Alps. It is a border zone between Italy, Austria and Slovenia. I can tell you it was crazy dealing with both the weather and the natural habitat, especially because we were shooting the film in winter. Making Shadow was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, physically and mentally.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: Can we expect to see the film on DVD any time soon? Are you close to getting a distribution deal?
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: Yes, I’m dealing with a really good company, but I can’t say who yet.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: I know you have wanted to make a horror film for a long time; it must be great to know that you finally did it – SHADOW has been very well received so far, and you are now being compared to the likes of Argento, how does that feel?
FedericoZampaglioneonthesetofSHADOW1-300x200FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: I’m honoured and flattered and I’ll try to do my very best to keep my contribution going.
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: What can we expect next? More horror? Tell us a little about what you’re on with.
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: My future is absolutely in the horror genre. I’m considering a couple of interesting projects, both really bloody and scary. One is placed in the dark and cruel medieval times, the other is a brutal and gritty psycho thriller…we’ll see
CINEFANTASTIQUE ONLINE: Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, and I wish you the best of luck getting that distribution deal, my DVD collection will not seem complete without SHADOW!
FEDERICO ZAMPAGLIONE: You’re welcome and let the terror play on!