Monday, November 2, 2009

Sidney forms his own Italian production company.

My Life As An Independent Film Producer
by Sidney Pink

I returned to Madrid with my signed contracts and a start date for THE TALL WOMEN. Since I was directing the film myself, I needed to get the rest of the productions ready before beginning a personal project. Our second picture was to be Elorietta's WITCH WITHOUT A BROOM starring Jeff Hunter. Elorietta was ready to go on this project, but I was leery of bringing Jeff Hunter to Spain since I had no second picture for him. By contract we had to start his second film no later than two weeks after he finished the first, so I called Jack Gilardi to delay Hunter's starting date and substituted Tab Hunter as the star of FICKLE FINGER OF FATE. I had no director for the picture and I refused to consider a European director for this fast-paced Henaghan script, so I asked Jack to find a young new director for the film. Seto was finishing DRUMS OF TABU, so I authorized Elorietta to do another Western starring Jim Philbrook while I went to work on THE TALL WOMEN.
This script created quite a furor in the European film world. The idea of a Western with an all-female cast intrigued foreign distributors, and coproduction offers came pouring in. It was then I got the idea that was so logical it just had to turn sour. While I was in Rome for FINGER ON THE TRIGGER, I met Lucio Bompani, a production manager whose advice I respected. He was a rarity, since the Italian film world was full of glib, fast-buck entrepreneurs. It was the main reason that country's movie industry was held in such low esteem. Spanish producers coined a saying: "Beware of the Italians - they're so quick that when you shake hands, hurry and count your fingers before they leave to be sure you still have five." Other than Lucio Bompani I never met an Italian moviemaker who could refute that adage.
I brought Lucio to Madrid to explore the possibility of forming our own Italian production company. I had in mind making our entire lineup as Spanish-American-Italian coproductions, thereby qualifying for the Italian film subsidy as well as the Spanish. Lucio agreed to look for a means of accomplishing it and returned to Rome. Ten days later he called with the news he had found a solution, and he suggested I come to Rome for discussions. There he introduced me to the director of a small distribution company, Mirko Purgatori.
Mirko was a tall, bluff and hearty, mustachioed Italian Walter Pidgeon. He looked honest, he had an honest smile, and Lucio conjectured that while he didn't know for sure, he might even be honest. Operating under the "if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a duck" theory, I proposed the formation of a company with Purgatori as the official Italian head and legal owner. He became enthused as soon as he learned of our extremely ambitious program, already planned and financed. There was no need for investment capital by anyone, and he could become a part of it at no risk.
With this news, Mirko became very obsequious, and I was suddenly his "Capo" (Boss). Together we organized Domino Films as an Italian production and distribution company and Mirko agreed to hold all the stock for us. Unfortunately, he was neither a Pepe Lopez Moreno nor an Antonio Sau, and I had reason to regret my reliance on the duck theory. I should have waited.

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