Ian Sciacaluga

I’m a UK-based, Producer-Director of TV documentaries, commercials, and charity films.

I was born on the tiny isthmus of Gibraltar and I studied at the London International Film School where I graduated with a distinction in Art direction.

I worked as a storyboard artist and as a junior art director on a few television dramas before I became a documentary Director with “Millennium Kids” - a short film about teenagers confronting adulthood on the eve of their sixteenth birthdays. It’s been screened around the world. I’ve since directed over 50 x tv commercials, many for major brands like Dove, Pampers, Kelloggs and British Telecom, some 20 plus episodes of ‘The Lonely Planet’ and ensuing ‘Globetrekker’ travelogue series and 3 x one hour documentaries shown on Netflix, including the recently lauded “Hidden Algeria”.

In 2023, I won Best Short film at the Barcelona Indie awards and Venice Under the Stars International Film Festival for my drama, “Imbroglio” and Best Dance Short for my community project piece, “We Dance for Life”, both at the Prague Music Film awards and The Experimental Dance and Music Film Festival in the USA.

I am currently editing a low budget feature film, ‘HIDE’, which I hope to premiere in the summer of 2024.


Your project takes a part in our festival. What is your project about?
“Imbroglio” is a short film noir evoking the Hollywood and European thrillers of the ‘40s and ‘50s. It’s inspired by the works of Directors like Robert Siodmak, John Huston and Jean-Pierre Melville. In keeping with the “noir” genre, I wanted to create a hard-nosed anti-hero and place him in an underworld of malcontents. This is the story of a brutal tax inspector, Giorgio Gambetti, who uses force to subjugate tax evaders and frauds. However, he becomes emasculated after his wife has an affair with a young student and he is forced to cross the underbelly of a city that knows him only too well, in order to catch and unmask his wife’s lover.

What were your requirements for actors to take a part of your film?
I wanted to create a fictionalised, timeless Italian noir world. To achieve this, I had to find authenticity in the faces and voices of my characters. I filmed mostly in London where I live, and sought out second generation Italian actors, with the exception of my protagonist, Paolo Maria Scalondro, whom I found in Rome. As for the supporting cast, I befriended an Italian tailor who connected me with Catholic communities in London. I was very lucky.

How did you communicate with the cameraman?
I had worked with my DoP, Nigel Kinnings, on tv commercials and documentaries, which made things very easy and comfortable. We were aiming for the high key, chiaroscuro lighting of classic film noirs that were photographed by the likes of James Wong Howe and Greg Toland. But we also wanted to make a technicolour film with a 1950s tonal palette, so Melville’s “Le Samourai” became a notable reference as well. We shot on 35mm film and delivered this little movie chemically rather than digitally. It coruscates with saturated colours and textures (I hope).

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What locations did you choose for your project? And why?
“Imbroglio” was filmed over the course of five days in London plus one day in Rome for the exteriors. It was important to create a designed “world” for our characters and story; one that was both convincing and cinematic. It goes without saying that budget is key in short films, so I deliberately tried to maximise my location day in Rome by designing a montage of locations that illustrated Giorgio’s journey across the city.

Why should distributors buy your film?
The film noir aesthetic is timeless and attractive to all audiences - young and old; maybe because of its dramatic story lines and grey characters. “Imbroglio” hopefully bears all the hallmarks of a classical thriller. My original film is also mastered on 35mm, which means that digital copies are of very high resolution, making it a movie that is fabulous to screen and watch in a cinema or on the tv screen.

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What expression elements did you use in your project? How would you characterize your work? Imbroglio is a timeless film noir about unrequited love and revenge. It’s my loving paean to old Hollywood thrillers and the European ones that followed. Angles are dramatically rather than artistically driven - out of my respect for the masters who directed Hollywood thrillers back in the day. The shots are conservatively framed and precise and I have adopted the old 1.33:1 aspect ratio in homage to my favourite movies of that period.

At what festivals have you had success? Has the film already premiered? If so, where? “Imbroglio” has found a real lease of life in 2023. It won Best Short film at The Barcelona Indie Awards and at the Venice Under the Stars International Film Festival, also garnering awards for direction at INDIEFest and the Global Accolade Film competition.

What motivated you to become a filmmaker?
I was 12 when I saw Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and it was in a little cinema in Thurrock where I grew up that I witnessed how films can be like beautiful dreams that you don’t have to let go of. The idea of being transported to fascinating places – be it light, dark, comedic or otherworldly - was too big a pull to resist. And it has been 50 odd years of feast and famine, hopes and disappointments, validation and survival ever since!

Which movies are your favourites? And why?
I love all kinds of movies. Some have a nostalgic pull from childhood that can’t be suppressed and others are more mature and sophisticated. Thus, my choices are very eclectic. I’ll list my childish/ childhood ones first and then my more serious contenders.
Jaws, Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Raoders of the Lost Ark (Spielberg)
Star Wars (Lucas)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Hunt)
Gold Rush (Chaplin)
Duck Soup (Marx Brothers)
Bringing Up Baby and Only Angels have Wings (Hawks)
Double Indemnity (Wilder)
The Life & Death of Colonel Blimp and A Matter of Life and Death (Powell and Pressburger). Notorious, Vertigo, Rear Window and North by Northwest (Hitchcock)
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (Ford)
Orphee (Cocteau)
The Ladykillers (McKendrick)
Smiles of a Summer Night (Bergman)
Walkabout (Roeg)
Five Easy Pieces (Rafaelson)
The, The Conformist (Bertolucci)
Deserto Rossi and Blow Up (Antonioni)

What topics do you like to deal with in your work?
I approach each project very differently. I feel as easily at home making a modern musical as I do making a period film. I’m not rooted to a style but I am attracted by themes of human vulnerability and fragility, be it a comedy or a drama. I also find ridiculousness in life’s situations and enjoy inserting moments like these into my films - if only to offset or temper a taut or tense sequence. Maybe that’s because I like films that modulate rhythm and tempo and veers on the side of the unpredictable and surprising. Or it could be a sign of my madness.

What genre do you like to shoot and why?
I love every genre as I love movies, full stop. Genres like this one. I am not tied to one in particular. I’ve done very well recently with a modern, experimental dance film I directed, that is the complete opposite of Imbroglio.

What project would you like to shoot one day, what would it be about?
I have a few ideas I would love to develop. One is a nonsense musical about mental health and the other is a film adaptation of a new novel by Dean Cycon, called “Finding Home”, which is about the repatriation of 6 jewish survivors from the holocaust in Hungary in 1945. It’s a deeply human film about the destructive power of shame.

What do you do if you're not thinking about a movie? What are your hobbies?
I play football twice a week and try and keep a little fit. I have a daughter who has cerebral palsy so I dedicate a lot of my time to her.

What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
I’m currently finishing a self-funded feature film called “HIDE”, which has taken me a good 4 years to produce and another 20 in aging! I’ve made this 84 minute in my spare time with a close friend. It’s a psychodrama about a woman whose dark past unravels after the sudden death of her mother. Whereas Imbroglio recalls the 1940s, Hide is something of a ‘70s Ken Russell opus.