Italy’s Indiana Production Execs Talk Joining Vuelta Group



Italy’s Indiana Production – which has just become part of pan-European studio Vuelta Group – is staying true to its roots with production kicking off this month on gender swap movie “Romeo is Juliet,” directed by quality comedy specialist Giovanni Veronesi, just as the company expands its horizons.

This latest title in Indiana’s slate stars A-lister Sergio Castellitto and Pilar Fogliati (“Romantiche”) who plays an actress named Vittoria who after being brutally rejected by a cynical stage director when she auditions to play Juliet in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” decides to reinvent herself as a man to audition for Romeo and gets the part. The film’s lead actors and director are pictured above.

“Romeo is Juliet” will be distributed in Italian theatres by Vision Distribution.

Founded in 2005, Indiana over the ensuing 18 years has grown steadily in both the film and TV sectors by working with Italian directors who are on the cusp between being auteurs and commercial draws. These include Paolo Virzì (“The Human Capital”); Gabriele Salvatores (“Casanova’s Return”); Andrea Di Stefano, whose “The Last Night of Amore” premiered earlier this year in Berlin; and Daniele Luchetti with whom they are in pre-prod on the relationship drama “Trust” toplining Elio Germano. They also work with several promising younger Italian helmers.

The prolific company, which has offices in Milan and Rome, last month launched two films at Venice, Giorgio Diritti’s “Lubo” toplining Franz Rogowski and venerable veteran director Liliana Cavani’s drama “L’ordine del tempo.”

On the TV side, Indiana will soon see the launch of immigration-themed Sky Original drama “Unwanted,” produced in tandem with Germany’s Pantaleon Films and directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel and of Netflix Italy original “The Leopard,” a historical tapestry with elements comparable to “Downton Abbey” or “The Crown” that marks the streaming giant’s most ambitious Italian show to date. 

Indiana’s advertising unit is also a money-spinner that steadily churns out high-profile campaigns such as a spot for the FIAT 500 E car featuring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by James Gray.

Vuelta Group, which is headed by former Canal+ and Goldman Sachs executive Jerome Levy and longtime partner David Atlan-Jackson, is active in international sales through Paris-based Playtime Group and in production via Germany’s Square One and Scandinavia’s Scanbox, among other outfits.

Variety spoke to Indiana partners Benedetto Habib and Daniel Campos Pavoncelli – who heads the company’s film and TV unit – about why becoming part of Vuelta is a good fit.

What are the main reasons for this move?

Benedetto Habib: In broad terms becoming part of Vuelta for Indiana represents the best possible positioning to fully enhance our growth trajectory. More specifically, what we really liked about Vuelta’s proposal is the [business] model with which we are entering this group. It’s not exactly an acquisition [on Vuelta’s part], in that each of us is investing a substantial amount of what we have received in the home company. On the other hand, we are handing over [to Vuelta] the totality of our shares. So in some way we continue to be entrepreneurs, albeit on a larger scale. 

Also Vuelta’s proposition combines two strategic aspects of the business: distribution and production. That’s another key element. To put it very simply: it’s the possibility of joining a group with which you can share evaluations of projects in development or in production already having an idea of how this product can generate value in specific countries. This is a big competitive advantage. It mitigates risk. All this in a market in which – this is a known fact – size will make a difference and international breadth will determine the possibility of being able to green light more ambitious projects.

Daniel, are the companies that Indiana is joining in Vuelta a good fit?

Daniel Campos Pavoncelli: These are partners that are very similar to us in terms of vision and internal organisational structure. We have already worked with Square One on a TV series [“L’ora – inchiostro contro piombo”] and movies [“Last Night of Amore” and upcoming horror film “Home Education”]. There is a common knowledge and taste that’s been in place for years. The same goes for Playtime with whom we’ve made films by Claudio Cupellini and Francesca Archibugi. We are aligned in terms of the long-term vision of the group.

Can we drill down a bit more on the synergies?

I think Benedetto put it very effectively. The change of pace for us is to be able to have regular feedback enabling us to know whether a specific project can work in Germany, or the Nordics, or on the international market through Playtime, which is very well positioned gives us a great competitive advantage. That’s the really synergy. On top of that, of course we will always try to do co-productions on each individual project. We will also try to do in-house remakes and work on developing projects together. But the market knowledge is the real clincher for us.

The market seems to be quite flat right now. Commissions from broadcasters and streamers are not what they used to be. How does this factor into joining forces within Vuelta?

Benedetto Habib: We are at a delicate juncture. We don’t know in which direction the market is going but we are well equipped. In the past commissioning allowed you with a one shot to close your budget on a big production. We are going towards a greater complexity in the market. But the fact that we now have greater pressing power and a wider scope on the distribution front will allow us to almost go back to the old [business] models. Almost, really, back to basics which for movies means that box office revenues take on more value. Vuelta as a whole is strong on local but with an international vision. I don’t rule out the possibility that we might be able to open windows for Vuelta product [that we don’t originate] on the Italian market. I’m not sure if this is the right path, but it does represent a possible solution to the scenario that you mention, which is one that we are aware of.

Daniel Campos Pavoncelli: Paradoxically we are almost going back to the model that was in place when we entered the TV market, made up of co-productions and territory by territory licensing, of international sales. Vuelta Group is perfectly positioned for this.  

Pictured: Giovanni Veronesi, Pilar Fogliati.


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