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5 minutes with...

5 Minutes with… Ada Bonvini

The Family Executive Producer on applying economics to production, nurturing talent and almost being shipwrecked in a storm

5 Minutes with… Ada Bonvini

Ada Bonvini joined production company The Family as Partner and Executive Producer in 2016, having spent 16 years at Filmmaster Productions. Alongside Stefano Quaglia, with whom she shares her role and chairman Lorenzo Ulivieri, she heads up a roster of worldwide directing talent. The aim back then was to relaunch, expand their roster and find new talent both inside and outside of Italy. They’ve delivered on these promises, taking on directors like the mighty Benito Montorio, launching their content division, Tales, and producing work for both Italian and international clients, from Coca-Cola to Birra Moretti and Diesel.

LBB’s Alex Reeves caught up with Ada.


LBB> You worked at Filmmaster Productions for 16 years. That's commitment! What was it about The Family that convinced you to join a new company?

AB> It was time for a change and for a new strong commitment! Lorenzo and Stefano, my two partners, actually convinced me (after some bottle of excellent wine) about their will for a change. They strongly wanted a new course and we found each other on the same path. Having a company is like a marriage - you have to like your partners and share the same values - and this is what I found in The Family.


LBB> You also worked in advertising agencies before then? Why did you end up settling on the production side of the fence?

AB> I actually started in production and then I moved to a couple of agencies and then back to production. I was quite young at that time and I was curious about the other side of the job. I must say that I learned a lot and it was a very useful experience. Nevertheless, I love production; this is where I belong.


LBB> What sort of child were you? What was your upbringing like and did it impact what you ended up doing at all?

AB> I have the luck to have very young parents and they were in their 20s in the ‘70s, so they raised me with a very open and modern education. I was not super easy (I had a strong character), but they were very good in guiding me to find my way and to take decisions for myself. I had to learn quite quickly to be responsible for my actions. Not always easy for a child but in the end a very good thing.


LBB> Was filmmaking always a passion of yours? Or did you end up in it by accident?

AB> It is a combination of the two. I have always been fond of movies and I studied economics, so I managed to do my thesis on project management applied to the production of a movie. My CV was very unusual for a production company. All my university colleagues were becoming clients, not producers. But I felt I wanted a different life. By accident I started in a production company in Milan. I knew nothing about production but I learned very quickly and I met some very talented producers who made me love this job.


LBB> What piece of advice do you wish you'd had when you were starting out?

AB> “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I think that this famous sentence attributed to Winston Churchill contains a strong message that is important to remember every day. It is more than a piece of advice, it is an inspiring thought.


LBB> You've recently signed a few new directors, including the amazing Benito Montorio! How do you approach attracting and nurturing directing talent?

AB> I strongly believe in talent and it is always great to have the chance to work with people with a vision. The meeting between talented directors and producer is always a good thing and brings quality to what we do. We are carefully building our roster so we can give our directors true opportunities. I met Benito on a very tough job a few years ago. It’s one of toughest experiences I’ve been through but one with an excellent result. And I think that the best way to attract talent is building up trustful relationships and to doing our best to let them grow and express themselves. 


LBB> What projects are you most proud of working on over the years?

AB> It’s very important to see and feel the results of what we achieve. When you see a project where you can put your creativity into the process and you like the result, this is what makes me feel proud. Craft is more and more crucial and we need to put our effort into getting the best result in any job 


LBB> What are your passions outside of work? How do you spend your spare time?

AB> My first passion are my 7-year-old boys but when I escape my mum life I go to the movies, I read, and I love eating well in good company. Enjoying life is a must!


LBB> Producers often end up in some unique situations. What's the most memorable challenge of your career so far?

AB> It’s so true! There are so many episodes. There was one scary incident that now is funny to remember but was not so funny to live through. We had to shoot on a big whaler on a cloudy day. Actually, the weather was worse than expected and at the beginning everybody was happy about it. But going out from the port, the waves were very high and the whaler too big, so it touched the sea bed and the helm broke. We stayed outside the port, in a storm for almost five hours. We couldn’t turn back and be rescued because it was too dangerous. Luckily the extras that we had on board were very experienced sailors and they managed to bring us back into the port. That was an adventure!


LBB> The Family is definitely one of the more internationally-focused production companies in Italy. You've worked recently with Wham and Publicis on some big global campaigns. Is this a focus for you or just an accident?

AB> This is one of our main objectives. We love the idea to work on an international level and being open to collaborate with people from different countries and backgrounds. We are based in Italy and we take the good side of it but we are aware that the world is full of opportunity and we want to grow outside our borders.


LBB> What are your main aims for The Family in the coming months and years?

AB> The main objectives are to keep on growing in the quality of what we do and to start working on different formats. We are starting to develop some original content through our division Tales. We are currently working on our first feature and we already produced some short movies and co-produced an international documentary that will be released soon.

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