Case Study: Timed Expectancy

Italian filmmaker Riccardo Pittaluga about his short.

How are health-care and capitalism related to each other? Italian director Riccardo Pittaluga talks about his short Timed Expectancy.

“We like to work with a very tight team.”

The idea

“The idea was born from some comic strips on vegetative patients, after which we felt the need to deepen the matter. Not so much about the issue of vegetative patients as creating a metaphor about how capitalism relates to health. In a context where the res publica is eroded from the market, health becomes a paid service: a system supported by an underlying social Darwinism where those who pay will be saved and who don’t simply die.”

“In the general spirit of efficiency and extreme optimizing, the patient and family are no longer assisted, followed and comforted min a service that first of all is human and then sanitary. Instead they are left to manage the therapy alone, entrusted to a machine that provide just the minimal care for the mechanical functioning of the body. The emotionality of healing and suffering are values that can’t be translatable and quantifiable, therefore are no longer components of the system.”

Locations and direction

“Finding a suitable location has been quite difficult: we have turned several hospitals, private clinics and so on. At some point we evaluated whether to reconstruct the patient’s room in the studio, but it was too expensive. For a further tour we found a clinic in a little mountain village that turned out not only very helpful, but also with that ‘decadent’ look we were looking for.”

“Regarding the direction style we tried to avoid to be too ‘technical’: we preferred a slow editing and almost no camera movement. We had installed a reverse slider on top of the patient (with a rather complicated setup), but we cut off the scene in the editing because it looked too much ‘videomaker-style’. we tried to leave just what was essential to tell the story and nothing else. The only camera movement is in the final where the camera pull off the room leaving the two character alone.”

Tight

“We like to work with a very tight team. As a filmmaker, I was involved in both shooting and editing and post production. On the set, besides the actors, there was an assistant (who also dealt with the backstage) and a set designer who set up the room, wrapping up some of the machines to make the room more ‘hospital-like’. The actors were two old friends. With them I already had done a lot of work and both were enthusiastically involved in the shooting, both for the relationship of friendship that binds us and because they felt involved in the theme of the short.”

“The shooting lasted one day. There were no mishaps and we had planned everything in detail, so we could shoot quietly, giving us time to experiment (quite rare these days). After the shooting, we had to decide what would become the title of the film. There has been some problems with it. Originally it was Automatic Machine for Expensive Vegetable, but while discussing with the actors there was the feeling that it could be too aggressive or offensive, diverting attention from the theme. So after the editing we looked for a new title, which was what it is now: Timed Expectancy.”

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