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Interview with Francesco Erba writer and director of As in Heaven, So on Earth
By James Whittington, Sunday 5th September 2021
Francesco Erba As In Heaven director

As In Heaven, So On Earth mixes the found footage genre with incredible animation to deliver a truly unique take on the format. The movie effortlessly moves from its gothic animation to cutting edge technology footage and brings together a tale which is emotional and utterly heart breaking in equal measure. We chatted to its writer and director Francesco Erba as it plays at FrightFest Online Edition 2021.

HC: Where did the idea for As in Heaven, So on Earth come from?

FE: As in Heaven, So on Earth was born not only from one specific idea but, as very often occurs, from many different ones, different influences and life experiences. In a little town in northern Italy, where I was born, there is a beautiful and very old church on the top of a cliff. At the base of this cliff, inside the woods, there was a very scary cave and me and my friends bet each other to whom had the courage to go further inside. Till today, I don't know what there is at the end of that tunnel. Maybe this had something to do with the genesis of this movie.

HC: Did you have the animation/puppetry concept there from the very start?

FE: No, actually at the beginning I was confident that I would managed to make the entire movie in live action. The choice of using animation was a replacement, a fortunate one. I come from animation so I know very well how it works and not being sure that I was able to recreate a convincing medieval setting with our very restrict budget, I started to believe that animation could be a suitable choice to tell the story in the way that I imagined it. Today I can proudly say that it was our best choice and that it adds a new layer of wonder to our movie.

HC: It's a very ambitious movie, did you ever think you'd taken on too much for your debut feature?

FE: When I decided to produce this movie, I didn't reflect about whether it was or wasn't an ambitious film, but just that I wanted to make the best movie I could with the script and the budget that we had.

HC: How long did the animated parts take to complete?

FE: The animated part took around a year and a half. Coming from stop motion animation, I know very well how long it could take, therefore I tried this different type on animation, much closer to a puppet animation and more affordable in terms of budget and time. Besides, in this way I could "steal" some technical ideas to one of my heroes, Jim Henson.

HC: Do you have a favourite scene?

FE: Of course, my favourite scene is the creation of the "Sindone" relic. An obvious homage to the birth of Frankenstein.

HC: Are you a religious person?

FE: No, but I was. I was born in a very small village in northern Italy where sometimes the Church is more important that school, in many cases. I was an altar boy too. Then, growing up I became more rational and lost completely this influence, even if I will always acknowledge this background as part of myself.

HC: It plays like Blair Witch meets The Da Vinci Code with added Tim Burton, how would you describe it?

FE: .... that meets also "In the name of the Rose"! The Blair witch project was surely a reference, not only as a mockumentary but also in the way it was produced. I still remember when it came out in theaters in 1999, I was 13 years old at the time, and it really impressed me.

HC: Will you be nervous when your movie shows at FrightFest?

FE: Of course! Mostly because I've never seen my movie in a big screen, because of the covid pandemic and various lockdowns, it was a step that we were forced to skip. Fortunately FrightFest gave us the opportunity to be part of this year's edition and to finally see it in a proper cinema.

HC: What's the film industry like in Italy at the moment?

FE: Covid pandemic issues aside, at the moment in Italy we seem to start having a renaissance for genre movies. For many talented filmmakers, the new online platforms seem to give us the chance to reach our narrow audience, more "easily".

HC: So, what are you up to at the moment?

FE: At the moment, I'm trying to develop one of my new ideas... and as always, it's very hard but hopefully I'll start the pre-production soon.

HC: Francesco Erba, thank you very much.


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