Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi are on a mission.
As the producing partners of the AMBI Group the duo are intent on financing, producing and selling an eclectic slate of movies that they hope will do battle with the latest releases from major Hollywood studios.
Recently, AMBI’s "Blue Night," which stars Sarah Jessica Parker, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, while the big-budgeted animation "Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad" is due out later this year, and a Lamborghini biopic and a "Memento" remake are in development, too.
Last month I had the chance to speak to Andrea Iervolino and Lady Monika Bacardi about the AMBI Media Group, during which time they outlined their plan for movie success.
How did you first get involved in "Blue Night"?
Andrea Iervolino: We did a movie with Sarah Jessica Parker a couple of years ago in Italy. We had a relationship with her and we really like her as an artist and as a person. "Blue Night" was her passion project and basically we had the chance to take a look at the script and it was in line with what we really wanted to do. We want to do a little bit of everything. From animation to special effects heavy movie to action. But “Blue Night” was a movie that gave a good message, makes people think. It also had a European director, which made the movie special, because in Europe, when you do a movie in Europe, the visual effect is love. Love is the visual effect of the movie. The emotion.
Is that a difference you spot between European and American directors?
Andrea Iervolino: I don’t think that it is a big difference. It really depends on who the director is. And who the artist is. For example we did another movie in New York with Al Pacino, it was called "The Humbling," with Barry Levinson, who is also great at communicating feeling.
Lady Monika Bacardi: Every director has a different sensibility. And you cannot say that an American is one way. You can’t generalize and say that one has a bad feeling or best feeling. I think it depends on them as a human being. Either you’re a good director or you’re not. It doesn’t depend on the nationality.
What are you looking to achieve with "Blue Night"?
Andrea Iervolino: Tonight is the North American premiere. The movie goes in distribution soon with AMBI Paramount and in the world with Universal and then for other countries some independent local companies. This movie will have a long life. Because it is a good movie, has a good message, a great cast, as well as Sarah Jessica Parker we have many other great actors.
Lady Monika Bacardi: The story is really important. It is a story that can happen to anybody. It is timeless. We never know how long our lives are going to last. If you discover you’re sick it changes the whole vision of life. For the families and everyone close to you, too. It happens to everyone. Unfortunately. Sooner or later with every family.
Andrea Iervolino: So many people are working so hard that we never really stop and think of the real purpose of life. In the end, what is the most important thing in life? It is friendship, it is love, because without this we would never be happy.
Talk about the changing landscape of cinema, and how to incorporate Netflix and VOD.
Lady Monika Bacardi: I think it is a good opportunity. The younger generation doesn’t go as much to the cinema. I love the big-screen, but we have to adapt to the times. We have to adjust to those that watch these films on computers. It gives an opportunity for films that wouldn’t otherwise make it to distribution. I don’t think that it’s bad. I think more wider opportunity for distribution and for films to be seen.
What’s your process for picking a film to produce?
Andrea Iervolino: Our slate is so diverse. Each of these films have a different strategy. We never have a limitation just because of the movie that we do. It is basically a method based on budget, based on the cast, based on the investment that we do, then we decide if it is a Netflix movie, an Amazon movie, or if it is a cinema movie. We have a big animation film called "Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad" coming out later this year. Very high quality. That movie, it doesn’t make sense to produce it if it doesn’t go in a minimum of 3,000 screens in the US and then 7,000 or 10,000 screens in China and the rest of the world. So that’s a different strategy. The expectation of that film is a certain amount at the box office. Which we hope to reach because we had made a very big investment. It is a risk, but it is a calculated risk because we had a calculation of how the risk is going to be conservative. Then there’s the opposite. Like "Blue Night." Which is mid-budget with a very big cast. With this movie we waited to see what it would be. We know it won’t be as many screens as "Arctic Justice," but we will judge by each country across the world with our local distribution strategy. But what we are certain about is that we have done a movie that will be available worldwide in some way.
Do you deem the international market more important?
Andrea Iervolino: For sure in the sales estimate. I think it is 60-40 to the world and the US. Sometimes it is 25 US and 75 the world. But it is not a 50-50 anymore.
Lady Monika Bacardi: It depends on the film.
Are you looking to get more diverse voices behind the camera?
Andrea Iervolino: We are trying to be as equal as possible. We are one woman and one man. We do 8 or 10 movies a year. So we don’t want to compete with ourselves. So we diversify our slate to bring in different projects for our clients. We try to diversify as much as possible.
What’s the ultimate goal for AMBI?
Andrea Iervolino : We just want to make the best movie that we can. And step up. Every year we want to be growing and growing and growing. For sure, like everybody, we want to have Oscar. The normal things that every company and filmmaker wants. Because we work so hard and we have a vision. We also want our audience to achieve a certain level of emotion through our movies.