Matt Hichens, MD and EP of Armoury says “incredibly pleased to welcome these two beautiful people to our famiglia”. Echoed by James Robinson, armoury’s Head of New Business who says “Marco & Gio are an exceptionally talented duo who fill an important gap in our roster, no doubt delivering some incredibly impactful films to the UK market in the coming year.”
We sat down with them to get to know them a bit better.
Where are you based and why?
We were born and raised in Milan, our family members also live there. Our parents grew up in this city. How come we live in Milan? Because Milan is the operational center of advertising, fashion and luxury productions. We eat well and are only an hour and a half from the sea and an hour from the mountain.
What led you both to directing?
Marco: Ever since I was a little boy I was intrigued by moving images. I considered it magical to see beautiful images appear frame after frame on a screen. I started to get interested in the craft of filmmaking through the music videos I worked on and thanks to some video presentations I decided to create in my college days. I am self-taught, I learned how to edit and shoot by reading many manuals in my spare time and clearly experimenting with different types of cameras that came my way.
Giovanni: Since I was teenager, my passion has been capturing everything interesting around me with my little Sony Handycam. I attended a high school for the arts on Lake Como, where I learned to paint, sculpt and of course use my little cameras. Milan was my second study destination. In the fashion capital, I attended the European Institute of Design with a specialization in art direction. It was beautiful learning from my professors who had advertising agency and set backgrounds. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by the MTV generation and it was a dream to start working for MTV. It was an amazing experience collaborating for many years in the early days of contemporary visual culture. And it was here on MTV that I met Marco…the rest is history.
When did you become a duo and how?
We formed our duo in 2005 (I think) when we met working together for MTV, where we shot whole TV shows with just two cameras. It all started like that, editing and shooting our shows for MTV together.
Why do you work as a duo?
We are complementary. Non-blood brothers, friends, colleagues. We honestly believe that our collaboration has helped develop our individual passion for filmmaking. We stimulate each other. We have fought, we have laughed, we have cried together. We have extended our arms toward each other to help each other in difficult times. We work together because teamwork always rewards, it allows you to constantly look at reality from a different point of view. Creatively, we believe that uniting two complementary thoughts makes it easier to “untie the knot” of a production. Being a pair also allows us some advantages: splitting up on set means two sets can be running at once, or shooting digital content during the official campaign and keeping the same style and direction, taking photos and shooting videos together, and doing in the same days parallel scoutings. Also in this way we can work on more pitches at the same time since there are two of us! 😉
What attracted you to Armoury as a rep/what excites you about joining Armoury’s roster?
Armoury is a breath of fresh air for us. Joining the Armoury roster gives us a chance to venture to unknown destinations, that’s what makes it exciting: adventure. Adventure for us means fearless exploration, facing pitfalls and solving problems that may arise during the journey. Armoury is equipped to ensure arrival at the destination, anytime, anyhow, and so for any adventurer is the best possible partner.
We also hope to be a positive addition for Armoury, bringing our unique cultural insight as Italian directors, but even more so genuine people with whom to build solid campaigns for clients hungry for a positive and fresh outlook. Armoury’s roster is a complete team where everyone plays their own role, a unique team ready to tackle any uncharted territory in advertising!
How would you describe your aesthetic style?
We prefer our style to be defined by others. We don’t categorise ourselves, we very much follow our intuition in the moment. For us the exploratory phase of the creative process is fundamental. Creative boundaries related to individual projects are there to be challenged. We believe that each project should have its own style, and we are only ferrymen who can make the film emerge from the waters.
Who or what would you say are your key influences?
Marco: My influences range from film to design, but street photography also weighs heavily in my attitude. I admire those who are avant-garde, but I don’t disown the past. When I was young I think I chose to do this work because of a video clip by Michel Gondry for The Foofighters, the title of the song is Everlong. The emotions that song managed to evoke in me is something I can still feel on my skin from the very first notes.
Giovanni: Everything which is art or visually interesting is able to be an inspiration. I grew up watching Spielberg, George Lucas, Lynch and even masters such as Hitchock and Fellini films at the little cinema in my village. But at the same time I was also always watching pop videos, looking at photography and fine art. Valuable inspiration also came from an art TV show I used to work for, where I was lucky to collaborate with experts in art, film, design and philosophy.
What’s your favourite filmmaking moment together?
I think it is yet to come, I don’t deny that all experiences are always welcome but for one reason or another I guess what we can call the pinnacle of our filmmaking career is yet to come.
What’s your least favourite filmmaking moment together?
Creating something always leads to great suffering before eventual joy. The thing we have realised over the years is that after time, memories, both good and bad, become incredible stories to tell to those close to us. Every bad moment throughout our lives could be converted into a spontaneous laugh.
How would you describe each other’s approach to filmmaking?
Marco: I have great respect for Gio; he has a visceral creative ability to always try to raise the bar of “taste”. His outstanding art director skills establish him in my eyes as a meticulous painter capable of using images as verbal vehicles. Gio speaks in images, does not need to follow a logical thread in his mind, he flows like a river in flood when the dam is released.
Giovanni: Of course I have great respect for Marco, otherwise it would be impossible to be a duo. Marco has a great power in exploring new and unexpected ways to approach creative briefs, which is an amazing tool to break the “normality” of filmmaking and particularly commercial filmmaking. And this is very important for our job! He also loves to explore new techniques in terms of cameras, lenses and coloring processes.
Any personal projects alongside commercial filmmaking?
Marco: I make no secret of the fact that I am taking my first steps into the world of fiction. I want to experience the powerful thrill of achieving a goal that is impossible for many. The short format of advertising certainly still fascinates me, but I feel the need to pursue my dream of producing and directing (even low-budget) independent films. I would like the famous line from the film The Shawshank Redemption – “Andy Defrusne, who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side” – to be a mantra that helps me pursue an arduous and uncertain but certainly suspenseful path to adventure.
Giovanni: Of course we love commercial filmmaking. It’s our job and we do it with passion! But for sure, the new digital platforms are an opportunity for new types of content and some longer form films. We’ve already had some experience working on a feature but we would love to spend some of our time exploring even the new TV series world!
What else do you both like doing outside of directing?
Marco: We do everything together. For example, Gio is the godfather of my firstborn son. Sometimes we go on vacation together, we celebrate Christmas together. We tackle many activities outside of work together like the search for a new house or a difficult weekend. It’s only when it comes to sports that we don’t get along 😂 Gio loves skiing, I love surfing.
What are you looking forward to about entering the UK market?
M+G: We know how hard it is for two Italians to deal with the UK market, but we certainly do not give up on the possibility of making our voices heard in the boring Italian accent and with a lot of body gestures! We love the UK style and the way you guys approach projects, and communicate creatively. It could be very interesting to put our Italian vision inside the UK industry!