In this week’s fxpodcast we talk to Dario Piana, the director of the upcoming film The Deaths of Ian on set. We hear first hand about his issues with the special effects film – during a break in filming. This is part of our continuing series profiling the whole film making process of The Deaths of Ian.

Dario Piana talks to us this week from the set of his new film. Here he lines up the type of closeup he is after while on location in London

Born in Milan, Dario Piana is directing the Stan Winston Production The Deaths of Ian . Piana studied art at the famous Art Academy of Brera in Milan. From 1972 to 1978 he worked, wrote and drew comic strips. This grounding in visual graphical novels gave him an excellent understanding of framing, sotry telling and graphical imagery.

Piana on the set of <i>The Deaths of Ian </i>

In 1980 he worked at J. Walter Thompson for three years, leaving to found a small production company. This is something he describes as ” a compulsory stop for someone who wants to learn everything about editing, sound, special effects, video and post production”.

Working on lower cost commericals in Italy gave him tremendous experience in film direction. In 1985, he collaborated with Claudio Mancini — executive producer of some of Sergio Leone’s more important films — and two time Oscar winner Danilo Donati — art director for Fellini and other great Italian directors.

Piana on the Ice rink location where the movie opens

Piana has shot more than 350 commercials all over the world. He has worked with professional talents such as Milena Canonero (costume designer, 3-time Oscar winner), Jeff Kimball (Top Gun, Enemy of the State DOP), Steven Poster (Someone is Watching Over Me, Rocky 5 DOP) and with personalities such as Kim Basinger, Eliott Gould, Eddie Irvine (Ferrari F1 pilot) and many other italian sport champions.

During this time, Piana worked with many of the best known visual effects houses especially in Europe, including The Mill, Moving Picture Company and BUF Compagnie, as well as PDI in the USA. Piana has won many Italian and international advertising awards, including two Gold, three Silver, and four Bronze Lions at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes. He has also been named “Advertising Director of the Year” in Italy three times. His Gold Lion-winning spot for Ariston can be seen at the BUF website.

An example from Piana's own web site of his storyboards

Using his experience as an illustrator, Piana draws all a film’s visual sequences in detail, thinking about the editing during the storyboard phase, as he considers editing to be the “spine of the movie”. With his graphic novel background he builds fantasy creatures and gnomes of all shape and sizes, while also collects any kind of jet helmets.

It was his interest in the former along with his spectular directoring record in italy that brought him to the attention of Stan Winston. Winston welcomed the chance for him to direct this film about all-American guy is murdered each day by horrifying pursuers, only to wake up in slightly different lives to experience the terror of being murdered again.

Previous fxguide articles about the making of the film:
The Deaths of Ian Production Diary Part 2: On Set Supervision
The Deaths of Ian Production Diary Part 1: Previz