Hollywood shops in Italy for the visual effects of its blockbusters
EDI Effetti Digitali Italiani is a company set up in Milan in 2001 that has attracted the attention of the big American majors, such as Marvel, DC Comics, Disney and Warner Bros: in 2021 e in 2022 it won the David di Donatello award for best vfx and an Emmy nomination for best environment
Marvel, DC Comics, Disney and Warner Bros, some of Hollywood’s most important majors choose an Italian company for the visual effects of their blockbusters. EDI Effetti Digitali Italiani (https://effettidigitali.it) was founded in 2001 and is led by Francesco Grisi, a globetrotter who worked in France and the United States before returning to Italy and deciding to set up his own business together with Pasquale Croce.
Today EDI employs more than 90 people, has made around 146 titles including films and episodes of series, more than 4,000 commercials and has a turnover of 6 million euros (in 2020): “I came back to Italy with the desire to break the world, but I encountered many difficulties. I had to make the same product that was made abroad but with a tenth of the budget, while maintaining the same quality”, explains Francesco Grisi, co-founder of EDI.
From mechanical engineering to visual effects
He dreamed of being a mechanical engineer and making engines for Abarth. However, his life had something else in store for him. He did not complete his engineering studies and went to Paris to work in fashion, “a very bad environment”. His cousin, Pasquale Croce, also joined him in Paris to work for a company that was ‘doing strange things’. It was 1995 and the company was looking for labourers. “They needed staff, someone who knew how to use photoshop. They took a liking to me and, since I knew English, they sent me to the US to deal with American matters”, says Grisi.
It was the BUF Compagnie, a visual effects multinational. So Grisi participated in the creation of effects in films such as “Fight Club” and “Batman and Robin”, gaining considerable international experience. Then the decision to return to Italy to open his own company: “We worked on making our work as fast as possible, then once we had perfected our working method, we went to see the heads of Marvel, Warner, Universal, Fox. We started writing to them out of nowhere, “out of the blue” as the Americans say. Then one day, the vice-president of Fox told us: “That’s interesting, I’d be happy to see you. We left for the US to meet him and other majors”, Grisi continues
Difficult beginnings then the meeting with Muccino
Despite the compliments received from the American majors, the road for EDI was still uphill. Then the meeting that changed the company’s history with Gabriele Muccino. They built up a good relationship with him, which then turned into a working relationship: “Muccino told me that he had gone to live in Los Angeles, that he was working on a film “Father and Daughters” with Russell Crowe. He asked us to work with him”.
The deal went through and they officially entered into a small independent production. After that, the producers, happy with the work they had done, brought them other assignments”. “Slowly things started to come together: each project had positive feedback, and they came back to us for other production companies. So, the Studios started to see us”.
Over the years then they worked on the films “Gold” with Matthew McConaughey, “A Cat’s Life” with Kevin Spacey, “Ella & John” with Helen Mirren, through to “Le Mans ’66” with Matt Damon and Christian Bale, “Jungle Cruise” with Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, and soon to be in cinemas “Thor: Love and Thunder” and “Black Adam”.
Great directors and international productions up to David di Donatello
In the meantime, in Italy, they have received numerous awards. They work for some of the leading directors and producers such as Gabriele Salvatores, Paolo Virzì, Stefano Sollima, Matteo Rovere, Gabriele Mainetti, to name a few, and for numerous TV series, including American ones, produced by Sky, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hbo, Starz and Fox Networks.
“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that in order to create an effective business you have to build a team, making visual effects is a difficult combination of business, art and technique. You can’t do it alone. If you want to succeed, you have to find good talents with heterogeneous skills and, above all, willing to work hard to achieve great results, but, above all, you have to act completely irresponsible, because if you start asking yourself questions and planning everything, in the end you’ll never get going!” concludes Grisi.
The result? In 2021 and in 2022 they won the David di Donatello award for best visual effects for the Netflix-produced film ‘The Incredible Story of Rose Island’ e for ‘Freaks out’, Emmy nomination for “The Nevers” HBO’s series, and are working with major Studios around the world on upcoming blockbusters.
Grisi is confident about the future in which visual effects will become increasingly important in productions: “VFX will finally be asked first, they will participate in decisions even before the film is made, they will help to realise the imagination of the authors. Thanks to the possibility of realising any type of location, character, creature, effect, and above all thanks to the possibility of archiving, saving, cataloguing, modifying and reusing everything that is created an infinite number of times, the potential of a visual effects company will grow exponentially from year to year”.
Date: 13 February 2023
Author: Effetti Digitali Italiani