The making of Medici: Godfathers of the Renaissance was a
huge undertaking. Trying to cram some 400 years of the political,
religious and Medici family history into four hours was always going
to be a monumental task.
Producer/Director Justin Hardy says, "the Medici are worthy of 40 hours, 400 hours" and that as film makers there needed to be some tough decisions
made about what was included and what was left out.
"The Renaissance is huge and you have to make painful decisions about what is left out, ultimately the film is a great big colorful version of events."
During the summer of 2002 a 50-strong production crew headed to Italy to shoot the film. They took with them two gigantic trucks crammed with props and
equipment to help them reconstruct Medieval Italy and some of the most astonishing art in history.
"We made this film documentarily in and around Florence because those are the accurate places where this story occurred," says Justin Hardy.
They chose not to film the dramatic reconstructions which needed to represent Florence over 300 years. This was due to cost, the amount of
tourists and busy atmosphere during summer.
"We decided to take our operation to the much lesser-known east coast at Le Marche where in the hinterland, there is the most magnificent, pure medieval
hilltop society, and that's where we found two towns who have an almost unblemished medieval life.
"Offagna, where we shot the majority of the reconstructions is as authentic as it gets, it was like stepping back in time and most of the characters
that you see in this film are farmers, dentists, bakers; members of the community who once a year (for a festival) dress up in medieval costume and
rejoice in their history and who were prepared very generously to get in their costumes again for a longer period of time and come and recreate our
story for us," says Justin.
The film includes many large scenes throughout the four hours but
one of the key scenes stands out for the director as the most daunting.
"The murder in the Cathedral sequence which is the highlight of the
second hour and in many ways one of the most famous scenarios in Italian
history was frankly a terrifying one to undertake.
Justin says he was concerned about recreating a scene which involved
10,000 people without computer animation; therefore, the sequences
had to be carefully storyboarded and filmed to give that impression.
He was also concerned about being able to shoot the entire sequence
in one day.
"Now anyone who has ever made films knows that an action sequence is incredibly complex thing to film because in order to be active it needs to have
a lot of shots from a lot of different angles, so you need to have new lighting setups, you need to have people remade up and the whole thing becomes
very complicated," he says.
They planned the scene to have more than 50 shots, which was an enormous undertaking when largely using a non-professional cast and a number of
"On any normal given day in film making you can look to shoot 25 shots. If you're shooting anything more complex which involves action, blood and
stunts your down to about 15 shots but we had to shoot 50 in this one day.
"How we filmed those 50 shots in one day with members of the community who, being Italian turned up when they wanted to turn up and drifted off to
the bakery whenever they wanted to drift off to the bakery, is frankly a miracle. It's a sequence of which I am very proud," he says.
The crew enjoyed working with the local community and were pleased at having authentic Italian faces in the film rather than professionals playing Italians.
To find out more about the filming of the Medici: Godfathers of the
Renaissance, watch an interview with director Justin Hardy.
-Part 1: Birth of a Dynasty
-Part 2: Magnificent Medici
-Part 3: Medici Popes
-Part 4: Power vs Truth
Behind the Scenes
Get the DVD