On a warm summer afternoon back in 2007,
not knowing what to do, I picked up a pencil
and started drawing for the very first time since I was a kid.
What came out wasn't good...nor bad...but nonetheless,
it changed my life forever.
I've always been fascinated by the world behind films,
in particular art departments and set design.
I wanted to be a part of it.
By the time I had to choose a University in Italy
there wasn't much that could lead me
directly to that kind of path.
My best option was Cinema and Media Engineering
at the Polytechnic of Turin.
It wasn't exactly the journey I expected
but it definitely helped me grow and
figure out what I wanted to do...
and no it was not to become an engineer.
After graduating in 2008
I spent several months studying by myself
how to draw and paint through the help
of several dvds from the Gnomon Workshop.
I remember endless days and nights locked in my room,
doing nothing but trying to emulate
the works of professionals that,
back then, I considered my "gurus".
My passion for art was growing
and so was my young and naive portfolio,
which was then selected by someone I will never forget.
In September 2009 I found myself on an airplane
to Hollywood where I was sent to attend
the well known Gnomon School of Visual Effects.
There I focused on 3D, VFX and Digital Sets
but my main goal was to become a set designer,
maybe a crossdisciplinary one,
able to speak different artistic and technical languages,
always for the sake of a better communication
between the different departments of a production.
It was a very ambitious goal for a new post graduate,
so after two years of studying and working as an intern,
I decided that I had to start somewhere and,
since all I knew was that painting made me happy,
I created a matte painting demo reel and sent it all over the world.
One summer morning of 2011, when I least expected it,
I received an email. It was Scanline VFX
offering me my very first job as a matte painter.
Few days later I arrived in the beautiful city of Munich.
It became my home and it gave me the chance,
among other cities in Germany and Europe,
to work with companies like Trixter, Look FX,
MPC, Rise FX and Mackevision to name a few.
Ironically enough, as I came back from Hollywood
they brought Hollywood back to me.
I had the opportunity to work on films as
Game of Thrones, Cloud Atlas, Snowpiercer, Pompeii,
Exodus, Captain America, Independence Day 2
and last but not least The Grand Budapest Hotel.
For this one I will always be immensely grateful,
for not only the chance of finally serving the set design
through my matte paintings and the incredible satisfaction
of receiving an Oscar for Best Production Design in 2015,
but especially for the pleasure
of being part of a wonderful movie
that makes me believe that cinema as a form of art,
the one I prefer, still exists.
My career has definitely changed since then
and my reality too but my greater dream
of working in art departments, of designing sets,
of creating spaces that can tell a story hasn't.
All it takes, after all, is to pick up a pencil
and life can change forever...