Tonino Delli Colli

Тонино Делли Колли (20.11.1923 - 17.08.2005) - оператор.

Career: "After I attended junior high school my father told me to go to work for financial reasons and also because I wasn"t very studious. That was during the mid-1930s. A secretary in the film development and printing laboratory, where my father was working, was hired at Cinecittà Studios, which opened in 1937. I went to work there barely a year later with that woman"s help. I was about 16 years old, and I knew absolutely nothing about filmmaking. They asked me whether I wanted to work in the sound department or with the cameramen. I said with the cameramen even though I didn"t know anything about what that meant." […] "I was working before the war as an assistant to Mario Albertelli. I worked with him for about three years. Albertelli was suffering from an ulcer, and he often let me do what I wanted. He gave the instructions, and I did the preparatory work and went forward with it. He shot the scenes and made the corrections. That"s how I learned. I wasn"t the boss, but I can"t deny that at a certain point I was upset when he changed things. After the war was over, working as a camera operator was more like play than work for young assistants like me. I worked as a camera operator for major cinematographers, including Ubaldo Arata and Anchise Brizzi." He was under contract to shoot five films a year for prod Carlo Ponti and Dino De Laurentiis during the early 1950s. That"s how he happened to shoot "Totò a colori", Italy"s first color film in 1952. "I was doing a lot of work with Italian-American productions and earning a good living, but I realized that other young cinematographers were making names for themselves by working with talented new directors like Antonioni and Germi. I realized that I was losing unique opportunities to work with emerging directors in the new style of cinematography that was being developed during those years. I was working in Africa on the American film "The Wonders of Aladdin" when (production designer) Flavio Mogherini told me that Alfredo Bini had contacted him for a new project directed by Pasolini. I asked him to mention my name to Bini. Mogherini said I was too expensive, so I asked him to tell Bini to pay me whatever he could. I believe that was fate, because that day completely changed my career." […] "Sergio Leone came to Spain, where I was making a film called "El verdugo". It was 1963, and he was looking for money from our producer, who in turn was being financed by a pharmaceutical company. There wasn"t a cent to be had, so I said, "When we get back, I"ll give you a call and we"ll see if I can help you find someone." After a lot of looking, I found two producers, Papi and Colombo, and persuaded them to finance his film. I didn"t make that film, because I couldn"t work for nothing. One day, when I was still working on "Le soldatesse", Sergio"s assistant came over to the set and he told me that crowds were tearing down the Supercinema in Rome to get in to see Sergio"s film. "A Fistful of Dollars" was an unexpected hit." […] "He was a meticulous artist, who paid attention to everything he did, right down to the smallest details. He wanted me to light long shots so the audience could see details on screens of all sizes. He wanted them to see individual hairs in each character"s beard as well as their eyes. That"s one reason why his three-hour films passed quickly for the audience."

Awards: "David di Donatello" Award [1982] for "Storie di ordinaria follia"; BAFTA Film Award nom [1985] for "Once Upon a Time in America"; "David di Donatello" Award [1987] for "Der Name der Rose"; "David di Donatello" Award [1997] for "Marianna Ucrìa"; "David di Donatello" Award [1998] for "La vita è bella/Life Is Beautiful"; 6x "Silver Ribbon" Award from the Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists; ASC International Achievement Award [2004].

Tonino Delli Colli: "Cinema has certainly changed, but I remain anchored in what you might call the "old cinema", that of 30 or 40 years ago, the so-called "cinema d"auteur". Now there are various authors. Once there was the person who wrote the story, the director and the cinematographer who told the story in images - and it was a privilege to be able to be part of an auteur film. Nowadays other factors come into play during post-production, which can somewhat falsify the author"s original idea; consequently a film becomes the work of more than one author. Cinema has changed in this sense.

I can"t relate to the new digital filming systems, or rather I have no desire to learn these new techniques even though everything is changing and the evolution of technologies will make filmmaking even more immediate. The new technologies interfere with the author"s work. The special effects we used to create have nothing to do with those of today. Federico Fellini didn"t want to know about special effects; he always used to say to me: "If we can create the effects ourselves, with what we have, it"s OK by me, but if someone else has to intervene it"s not OK by me". From this I understood that Fellini didn"t want anyone interfering with his work during post-production and altering the way he had conceived it. I remember that the most we would do was place painted glass in front of the camera, that we matched with the real scene. It was pure invention. The argument concerning modern technologies is also valid for the "rushes": I prefer to watch them on film in a screening theatre, even if I don"t print them all. I need to see the effect in the theatre to understand what corrections I have to make or how I should proceed with shooting."

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