Case Study: STUDY, a true independent film (by Paolo Benetazzo)

Study is a 2012 Italian psychological thriller drama film written, produced, directed by and starring Paolo Benetazzo. It follows a psychology student in the last week before his final exam, discovering his life and exploring his mind.  Distinguished by a profound cinematic individualism, the film was made on an extremely low budget and was entirely shot by Benetazzo without any film crew.  Study has been screened and awarded at several international film festivals including the California Film Awards, Portobello Film Festival, Indie Fest, Accolade Competition, Los Angeles Movie Awards, SoCal Film Festival. The film has since developed a cult following among fans and audience, due to underground popularity.

Plot
Starting on Monday, in the middle of his room, the student (Paolo Benetazzo) tries to study surrounded by his past and his present, obsessed by the concept of life and death, and tortured by the eternal struggle between science and religion. Each day is a distinct representation of how the student’s behavior can be influenced by interpersonal relationships and subsequently by society. His consciousness is revealed through a combination of memories, emotions and motivations in a six-day span, while one day is entirely focused on his unconscious cognitive processes. As the days go by, unexpected characters and situations interfere with the student, turning what was meant to be a regular week of study into a complete nightmare.

StudyProduction
Study is my feature film directorial debut. Fascinated by the study of psychology and its impact on modern life, I decided to explore that connection in a feature film. Once graduated in Psychology I moved to Dublin where I started writing the script.

Filming began in Ireland and went on for a year. The following four years were spent in Italy, in the Venice area, shooting on small sound stages, composing the music and constantly editing. The film comes from a long introspective and experimental work developed over a period of five years. It deals with central concepts in human existence from a psychological point of view.

The film was produced on a budget of only $10,000. I made the entire movie without any film crew. Many scenes were filmed with no one behind the camera. Influenced by unconventional filmmaking techniques, I worked with an open screenplay and used unknown actors, friends and family. I consider this film a true independent film. The budget was ridiculous, the film crew was inexistent and I had no connections whatsoever. The experience was so extreme that I thought about quitting on several occasions. Making this movie was like living a dream in hell.

Soundtrack
The film features many pieces of classical music reinterpreted such as Un sospiro and Piano Concerto No. 2 by Liszt, Funeral March and Nocturne in E Minor, Op. 72 by Chopin, Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Arabesque No. 1 by Debussy, L’usignuolo by Respighi, Prelude to Act 1 Lohengrin by Wagner.

The soundtrack also uses a variety of music genres including hard rock, psychedelic rock, new age, funk rock, gothic rock, trash metal. The original score was composed by Jean Charles Carbone, Roberto Chemello and Paolo Benetazzo.

Music plays a crucial part in Study. The film does not rely on traditional techniques of narrative cinema. I wanted the film to be a primarily visual and sound experience in which music plays a vital role in evoking specific atmospheres.

The soundtrack album was released on iTunes on October 1, 2013.

StudyRelease
Study premiered in London at the Portobello Film Festival on September 1, 2012. As of 2014, the film is still screening at film festivals worldwide.

Film Festivals and awards
• Portobello Film Festival 2012: Nomination for Audience Award
• Indie Fest 2012: Winner Award of Merit for Feature Film
• California Film Awards 2012: Winner Gold Award
• Accolade Competition 2013: Winner Award of Merit for Feature Film
• Accolade Competition 2013: Winner Award of Merit for Leading Actor
• Los Angeles Movie Awards 2013: Winner Honorable Mention
• SoCal Film Festival 2013: Official Selection

Filmmaker
Paolo Benetazzo is an Italian film director, screenwriter, producer, editor, actor and visual artist.  Benetazzo was born on July 16, 1976 in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy. At the age of 19 he began acting and filming while attending the University of Padua. Experiencing a temporary conflict with the academic environment, he interrupted his studies for some years, picking up different jobs, until he eventually graduated in 2003 with a master’s degree in psychology.

In 2007 after travelling around Europe and living in Dublin for a few years, Benetazzo started working on his feature film directorial debut. Discouraged by the Italian film industry, he moved to London in 2011. The following year, he founded ARTtouchesART Films, a film production company that according to Benetazzo focuses on true independent cinema. The company is responsible for the production of art house films, music videos and visual art. ARTtouchesART manifesto is “One Artist, One Vision”.

Between 2007 and 2012 he wrote, produced, photographed and directed his independent film Study. He also starred in the lead role and composed the soundtrack. The film features his art works in several shots.

At the end of 2012 Benetazzo worked with artist Danny Sherwood in the production of Bitter Ditty. In 2013 he wrote, directed, photographed and edited the music video Salamander for rock band Mount Fabric and Like to Party for electronic producer Cal Strange. The video Like to Party was selected for the BBC Music Video Festival 2013.  At the end of 2013 he wrote, directed, photographed and edited the short film Sense, a romantic short film about dominance and submission. It was filmed in a professional dungeon.

Benetazzo considers filmmaking, like every form of art, an intense expression of individualism: “When you can’t see the line between fiction and reality, filmmaking becomes your lifestyle.

Study

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