How this writer found gold nuggets for the story of “Gucci”

I remember watching an Italian report when I was 12 and seeing Patrizia Reggiani in church, dressed in black, mourning the death of the man she had killed a few days earlier. I grew up in Milan, Italy. My mother is a fashion designer. As a child, I used to feed ducks with my father just three doors down from where Maurizio Gucci was murdered.

So when Ridley and Giannina Scott called me to discuss writing “The House of Gucci”, which they had been trying to bring to the screen for nearly two decades, I saw it as more than enough. ‘a simple writing contract: I saw it as the opportunity of a lifetime. A perfect blend of my storytelling interests and a world I knew intimately.

The writing process began with reading Sara Gay Forden’s book, “The House of Gucci,” which is a wonderful biography of the family and brand from its inception in 1921 to the present day. I have been fortunate enough to speak Italian and access articles written about Guccis in the 70s, 80s and 90s. I found wonderful gold nuggets throughout the articles. For example, that Paolo was president of the Pigeon Fancier’s Assn. or Aldo’s reputation for picking up young girls in his stores.

But like any good adaptation, there came a point where I had to put the source material aside and make the story my own. This is a work of fiction, not a docu-fiction or a biography. And in the center is Patrizia. One of the most overused notes given to screenwriters is to make the protagonist “likable”. And while I generally don’t agree with that, I felt that Patrizia’s 30-year-old bow was so tall, so wide, that she needed start in a place of love for Maurizio so that the love story convincingly turns into pure horror. After all, it would be much more relevant for audiences to approach a doomed love story rather than focusing on the cynical, gold-digging aspect of the character.

Another interesting term that is often used is “Tone”. Ironically, the writer may be the last person to be aware of tone when writing. Of course, some stories naturally fall into a certain genre, and there are conventions that could be followed within this framework. But with “House of Gucci” I knew I had to have fun with the material. Much like a rich Italian meal, it was about giving it as much color and exuberance as possible. The biggest pitfall would have been to transform what is a melodramatic and lyrical minestrone into something too austere, too self-righteous. The characters should take themselves very seriously: but that’s where the humor and satire lie.

I did the research for three months and wrote the screenplay in three months. My first draft was 135 pages long. At one point we had a 150-page manuscript – Ridley and I kept adding new scenes, drunk with Gucci’s enthusiasm. The filming script was close to the original 135. I don’t think many of the new scenes in the longer version made it to the final script, but we got to know these characters and the story better.

This is my first feature film produced. I spent a year during the pandemic in Colombia after going to a wedding in Bogota and getting stuck there. I’ve worked remotely with Ridley and the cast for most of this year. Ridley graciously allowed me to be on set throughout the shoot, from the first frame to the last. I’ll be forever grateful to him – he knows I want to direct, and it was a masterclass in cinema by a real master.

I will never forget arriving in Rome in February at my hotel, which also served as the production office for the film. I put my bags in my room and ventured upstairs to the sixth, seventh, eighth floors. It was the middle of the night, there was no one there. Each floor was dedicated to a production department. Seeing my ideas come to life – the cars I had talked about, the food, the fashion shows, the clothes – was incredibly moving.

After many years of writing in a bubble, never seeing my dreams come true, I was here, working with amazing artists, on a story that brought me straight back to the city where I grew up: Milan. The city where I fell in love with the cinema.

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