Our client Pagoda Classics continues to shower us with extra cool video projects. This time we have a privilege to cop and feel an extraordinary vehicle – 1968 Alfa Romeo Giulia SS. The car alone is special, but this exact model is super special. The owner is Nicola Romeo, grandson of the founder of Alfa Romeo! So our little crew went on a trip to magnificent Lago di Como in Italy to shoot both the car and mister Romeo.
CLIENT: Pagoda Classics
PROJECT: 1968 Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Speciale marketing video
TOTAL PRODUCTION HOURS: 128
TEAM: Emanuele Lizzi [camera+interview] / Bruno Zagorščak [camera+audio+editing]
There was no possibility for location scouting on this project. Google street view to the rescue! When we got the info where is the house of Nicola Romeo, and where will our hotel be, we decided on the stretch of the lake to film the car. The lake is huge, and our budget and timeframe did not leave us any room for long drives. So we decided to shoot the car with the gimbal on the lake road from Lecce to Bellagio.
In Bellagio we would film static shots on the side of the road, trying to show how the car looks in the environment. Mountain roads around Magreglio were used to present Giulia in its natural element, and a beautiful vista near Barni was chosen for static shots. Through Google street view we could ‘drive’ around and locate cool spots that would convey the beauty of the region and evoke nostalgic emotions.
There was no detailed brief from the client about the content of the video itself. We were only advised that we have to shoot the car around Lake Como and hopefully shoot an interview with Nicola Romeo. But we were not sure will the family approve of the interview (this was the case up until the moment we knocked on their doors), or where would we be shooting. Information was that we could not shoot in or around the house.
The Romeo family is very cautious of media, and basically, for the past 30 years, they were not giving interviews to anyone, not even RAI. But as the old saying goes – hope for the best prepare for the worst, we assembled a shooting list, saved a Google maps folder with all the locations, huddled up all of our gear and went for a 7 hours ride to northern Italy.
We had a day and a half to complete the entire shoot. The plan was to shoot static b-roll footage on the afternoon of the first day and to go through all of the locations for the second-day shoot. But the weather was not going in our favor – heavy rain, mist and gloomy scenery. Not ideal for picturesque visuals we were going for.
The weather app assured us the next day would be much favorable so we didn’t push it. We agreed to get up early in the morning and shoot the entire day to get all the footage needed. And the app was right! Crisp morning with lots of sunshine. Our Blackmagic cameras were enjoying themselves with such a beautiful subject in the frame. With establishing shots out of the way, we concentrated on the interview. At this point, we still didn’t know what to expect and were not sure if Nicola Romeo will be willing to talk to us. But when the doors of the family villa opened, we were greeted with open arms! Nicola and his cousin approved everything and we could walk and shoot all over the house. So we had to quickly set everything up for a 2 camera interview, split into 2 settings. Inside for the ‘grandpa talk’, and outside for the ‘macchina talk’.
The family was even so kind to escort us to the cemetery where lay the remains of Nicola Romeo. The rest of the day was all about putting ticks on the shooting list. We managed to complete everything just before the sunset.
The biggest challenge in the post was the language! Nicola Romeo doesn’t know any English and I don’t speak a word of Italian, so cutting and assembling a 20-minute interview was going to be a hassle!
Luckily Neuralab’s head of design is born and raised in Udine, so he quickly joined our small crew on the project. The workflow was this: We watched together through the entire talk and Emanuele told me what was Nicola saying in the first place. Then I had to play around with the interview and assemble a sequence with usable parts of the interview.
I used voice type tool in Google Docs to make a transcript (sort of), then pasted that into Google Translate tool, which gave me an English version (sort of). Then I continued to make a rough cut and Emanuele was there to fine-tune the sentences so that they make sense. This video is not only a showcase for a car, but it’s also a short story about the founder of Alfa Romeo. It was important to have an even ratio between car talk and history talk.
A major part of the final look&feel was the audio track. We wanted something retro, nostalgic and unmistakably Italian. And judging by the first reactions, we hit the spot with this canzone Italiana classic from Mario Abbate.
In the end, I would like to thank Pagoda Classics for giving us an opportunity to visit Lake Como and shoot this one of a kind car. Also, big thanks go to the Romeo family for their hospitality and down to earth character. It was a privilege to sit in the armchair of Nicola Romeo, the founder of Alfa Romeo.