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Scenario: Behind DUDE’s Most Ambitious Original Production to Date

Ivan Merlo, EP and director at DUDE, on the agency’s mysterious new short film

Scenario: Behind DUDE’s Most Ambitious Original Production to Date

Milan and London-based agency/production company DUDE has recently been dipping its toes in original productions and their latest project is sure to tickle your curiosity. Filmed in Tuscany in September 2017 and starring Joi Johannsson, Mads Reuther and Aomi Muyock, Scenario is a 15-minute short that’s oozing with mystery and intrigue. Directed by Italian directing duo TO GUYS, Scenario is a stepping stone for DUDE, as the agency is setting its sights on creating and producing its first ever feature film. 

LBB’s Liam Smith sat down with DUDE executive producer and director Ivan Merlo to find out more about this project.


LBB> Can you give us a quick synopsis of the film? What can viewers expect?

Ivan Merlo> Anybody who’s watching Scenario should expect nothing but suspense. It’s a short film that starts with the premise of the story told directly to the viewer, and that story isn’t 100% reliable. 

It is a story made of strong visual grandeur and hidden meanings, which starts with an enigmatic intro, but is very straight forward at the same time. Scenario is a film about the fictitious, keeping a distance from the characters and the story. It is a film that lacks detail, therefore the viewers can expect a detached story from an empathic point of view, but which is enigmatic and intriguing in its ambiguous nature.

LBB> What was the inspiration for the film, and who did you work with on the script?  

IM> The script was written by TO GUYS. With this short they wanted to let the world know their personal idea of cinema and the kind of stories they love to tell. 


LBB> Did the directors approach you, or did you approach them? Why were they the right team for this?

IM> TO GUYS are a very young and very talented Italian duo. We worked together on an advertising project two years ago and after that we decided to bet on these two youngsters producing their first short. We have the same creative attitude and, basically, we like the same things. 


LBB> How did you decide on the casting? Why were Joi Johannsson, Mads Reuther and Aomi Muyock the right actors for the job?

IM> The pre-production was pretty long, one year more or less. We started searching for faces and people around the world with the help of some casting directors in Europe and the US.  Aomi was the first role we booked. We met her a couple of times in Milan and we immediately fell in love with her simplicity and her approachable nature. Joi and Mads were chosen after a really long search on the Internet (mostly Vimeo) and several Skype calls. They are two very talented actors and very special human beings. I wish them all the best for their career.


LBB> Is this the first of your original productions? Are you planning on producing more? 

IM> This not our first original production but it has been the most difficult and complicated to produce to date. We are very proud of what we did and this experience gave us the know-how and the confidence to go ahead and produce more original content. The next big step is the production of our first feature film, written and produced by DUDE! It’s a long road but we are very excited about the journey we’ve started.


LBB> The locations and set design are really impressive. Where did you go to shoot?  

IM> We filmed for one and half days, at the Carrara marble caves in Tuscany, an incredible location, perhaps not too easy in terms of filming. The other location, the hut in the woods (Casa Giorgini) was suggested by one of our former producers and it’s located In Tuscany, an hour and a half by car from the caves, close to Livorno. This location is very unique, but it was totally empty, and Amos [Caparrotta], the set designer, did a wonderful job. He furnished all the rooms with a very tight budget and a lot of passion.


LBB> The music in the trailer is super intense - who did you work with on the music/composition? 

IM> The soundtrack was ideated and composed by Matteo de Marinis, a young Italian composer/producer who has already worked in the past with our directors.

He is a true talent and many things that you will hear in the movie are his thoughts and ideas, inspired by the images and the narrative, created in a totally free and creative environment. After this first experience with Matteo we decided to further collaborate on other advertising projects, with great success. 

 

LBB> Can you tell us a bit about the other original productions DUDE has produced? 

IM> In the last two years we created and produced a short movie, a TV documentary and a docuseries in collaboration with Discovery Italy.

As I mentioned, in the last few months, we have also developed some scripts for long-form movies and TV series.


LBB> What are your hopes and ambitions for SCENARIO, and indeed your other original productions?

IM> Together with our distribution partner Withstand Film we are submitting Scenario to a few important international festivals. At the same time, we will also submit it to the Short section of the Young Director Award, at Cannes Lions 2018. Being shortlisted would be a success, winning would be a dream. Generally, we are working on content with the objective to create something that can live on the big screen and can be appealing for the big entertainment players that are already redefining the industry (Netflix, Amazon Studios, Hulu…)

Category: Online , Publications and media

Genre: Strategy/Insight