Definition June 2020 WEB

DRAMA | P I NOCCH IO

BACK TO ITS ROOTS VFX supervisor Theo Demiris talks about creating the visuals for the latest Pinocchio feature, which draws upon Carlo Collodi’s original story

WORDS CHELSEA FEARNLEY / P I CTURES ONE OF US

M atteo Garrone’s film adaptation of Pinocchio combines the sentimentality and surreality of Carlo Collodi’s original story and rescues the puppet from its saccharine Disney rendition. With a script pricked by themes of suffering, exploitation and death, it offers much more than the animation of a boy whose nose grew too big when he told a lie – something that only happens twice. In an interview with Theo Demiris, VFX supervisor at the studio One of Us, he recalls meeting with Garrone early on to discuss how it would look. “Like the script, we drew inspiration from the original material and Carlo Chiostri’s illustrations. We also studied etchings by Francisco Goya, whose compositions of the bleak social, economic and political levels of 19th-century Italy permeated Collodi’s story.”

Demiris adds that the film is a homage to Italy in those times, and that an emotional understanding of how that might have felt was incredibly important to its Roman auteur. “Garrone had longed to film Pinocchio ever since he was a little boy, when he drew his first storyboard. He is like a human lie detector when it comes to emotion; he instinctively knows what feels right and what doesn’t,” says Demiris. EARLY INVOLVEMENT Through pre-production and a three-month shoot in Italy, Demiris built a relationship of trust with Garrone, developing an understanding of his aesthetic intentions. “Being involved in the project early on was so important: I was able to witness the organic evolution of the script and characters, and in doing so I developed a deeper understanding

of the film’s tone, which gave me more autonomy over the visuals,” he explains. This style of working is also unique to One of Us; the boutique studio has built a reputation in recent years around its attention to immense collaboration. “We like to offer the filmmaker a journey; where we facilitate their vision on-set and bring it to life in post-production,” says Demiris. Being on-set was also an opportunity for Demiris to have an ongoing dialogue with Mark Coulier and Pietro Scola. Coulier is a double Oscar-winning prosthetic and makeup artist known for his work on the Harry Potter films, and Scola is Garrone’s friend and character concept artist. “It was technically useful for me to see how the characters were being formed – even to the point of discussing casting with Garrone, because it fed into our joint goal of

10 DEF I N I T ION | JUNE 2020

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