An Italian in Hollywood

interview with Giacomo Ghiazza

The famous storyboarder borned Asti, in Italy, has exalted, with his own work, the name of Italy to the highest levels, in relation to movies.

From 1988, with the “storyboards” you have transformed ideas and words into well-known Hollywood movies scenes such as “Windtalkers”, “Life of Pi”, “The Hunger Games” and “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, “Starship Troopers”, “Robocop 2”, “Mission: Impossible 3” and “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”, “Speed”, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl”. How difficult is the creation of a mental image in order to get a quality film photography? What is your method to obtain it?

“Well, there is only one method of achieving it that, in my opinion, it is the best one: the direct dialogue with the film director. When I am hired to create a storyboard, I work with the director not exclusively, but up to 80% of the overall time. We meet together both for short and long interviews, sometimes very briefs! Moreover, in those few minutes, I have to be quick to understand, to translate his image or his ideas into basic sketches sometimes, in a way that I will be able to understand when I will just make them later. I have to be very rapid to run after him with my mind, because these concepts are a bit abstract, sometimes. Therefore, the difficulty is there, trying to understand in a more expeditious procedure “What do you want? Do you prefer a thing like that, or maybe … “. You know, every film director might seems using abstract concepts, own visions, such as Ang Lee. The first meetings were terrible because I was afraid of not understanding anything, embarrassing myself! Instead, all went well… Hence, make your mental image clear before putting it on paper it is not so easy, as well as when you got it in mind. Let’s say, design is the easy part, but the mental process is not a simple task. It is as I would have a camera in my mind, being both the editor of the film and the movie director at the same time. You have to possess different skills in order to be able to build an image that says something, understandable by all the insiders.”

In the Age of advanced digital design where computer graphics are all the rage, you embody that testimony of manual representation is actually alive and relevant. Which future prospects do you imagine for the traditional techniques for graphic communication in any creative process?

“Without the traditional approach, and its creative process, cannot exist any manual and digital techniques for interpretation. By the way, when one uses the graphics tablet on which you can design with the electronic pencil, the process is the same. Rather than having a sheet of paper, one has the glass surface where one sketches on, but it is really the same. It is funny, it doesn’t get your fingers dirty, and even one can go faster because has less friction, including that one due to graphite… there are advantages. I am still learning because I have only had it by now, and I should have done it years ago! Finally, I convinced myself to embrace the digital world. Yet the technical part requires more time: you have the apps opened on your laptop screen, connected it to the tablet and, to create lines of all sizes with preset tools, one uses Photoshop or other apps. My friends, more addicted to this device, with the left hand open the menu while with the right one they are drawing! Nevertheless, without any drawing skills on a paper support, what we said before cannot exists, because it always and still refers to this ability, either on a paper or on a graphics tablet surface. Does not change anything: you have to know how to draw.”

For over 30 years, you live and work in the US. In this period, in your opinion, how has it changed the perception of the US costumers in relation of the “Made in Italy”? I mean this both in terms of expertise and know-how, as well as the wide-known material goods.

“I am a bit unprepared about that. However, despite my lack experience, the “Made in Italy” is renowned. In fact, the food is appreciated by all, as well as the fashion, the design etc. Everything that possess the “Made in Italy” label, and obviously manufactured in Italy, has not only a monetary value, but also an artistic one. I live in California, so I only have one experience with this owing to the fact that in other parts of America there is a different culture. Nevertheless, in California, and in his major cities, the “Made in Italy” appeal is wide.”

by Fabrizio Aimar