There’s graft behind glitter, and Devon Film Logistics is putting in that graft to make sure visiting film productions and the region shines. Giuseppe Rossi is the buzzing engine behind it. He’s the sort of person who would offer to find you a camel at the drop of a hat.
“Out of the blue, a friend phoned up from the Caribbean,” says Giuseppe. As a writer and actor himself, he knows how to engage with a story and the Caribbean seems an odd place to start. But the trip was to work on a reality TV show. He made enough money to stay for six months, avoid the British winter and learn loads.
Back in North Devon, and Giuseppe got wind of a production at Saunton Sands which needed some support. As a District Councillor, he’d made a relationship with the council, and his production experience stood him in good stead. As did his practical-based, single-minded problem-solving approach.
Born in Clovelly, Giuseppe grew up in the backest of beyond in New Zealand, foregoing formal education for more hands-on pursuits.
“A lot of productions come down and use Clovelly as a set so we’ve always been involved in film,” says Giuseppe. “I was a fisherman for 20 years.” For films, that involved providing marine side health and safety, boats and other production needs.
But it was as a response to film Operation Mincemeat that Devon Film Logistics sprung to life.
“We started DFL and at the time I was a district councillor as well, which helped with the meetings.” Giuseppe put his councillor hat on and pointed out that films were coming into the area and they were using upcountry facilities, “when it’s perfectly good down here, the people are good, the skills are good and we can provide everything you need,” he says.
“They took that back to their production company. Eventually, it came down to us and another firm, and they chose us. It was a bit of a punt for them but they took us on and we did an excellent job and facilitated everything that they needed for their production and it’s gone on from there.”
One of the skills Guiseppe has is building relationships, and they have good relationships with National Trust, Exmoor National Park, Environment Agency, Natural England, the MOD, the Crown Estates, and the local councils, to name but a few.
“All these people are involved when you want to film on land or you want a drone that crosses those bits of land,” says Giuseppe.
Despite a stuttering Covid time, the UK will attract 130 films from the US this year. And Giuseppe is determined to tempt them to Devon.
“There aren’t a lot of people in the field we do,” says Giuseppe. “You’ve got to go through the process of productions to learn how to do it because there’s no rule book.” And he was brave enough to take it on.
As well as relationships with organisations, Giuseppe has a network – he knows everyone. Part of the joy of that is bringing money into the area and being able to employ people. That promoting the area and the people is probably part of the ethos that drove him to become a councillor.
“People come and work as a marshall, or a driver or whatever and they get paid well and they get fed and they have a good time. And it supplements their income – for self-employed people and the services industries, and the cafes, it helps slightly,” he says.
There are so many different jobs in films – things many people hadn’t considered. (The Devon Film Logistics Instagram is giving two-minute insights into the variety of jobs people do.)
With loads of support from the local population, the only negative vibes have come from summer second-homer types who aren’t happy a blockbuster may have closed part of a beach or some such.
Another goal of Devon Film Logistics is to create a good rural location library for everyone to use within their budget. “I want it to be accessible for everyone,” he says.
That sense of building relationships, skills, opportunity and community is matched by Devon Film Logistics sponsorship of Two Short Nights and the 48 Hour Film Challenge screening.
Guiseppe himself has a creative background and stars in Mid-Winter a proof-of-concept short, that is looking to be developed into a feature. Has Devon Film Logistics scratched that creative itch?
“Yes and no. It probably makes it more itchy if I’m honest, I love writing and I like acting,” says Giuseppe. “In a way yes, because you’re part of a production and you’re very busy. But in another way, no. I’d love to be able to do my own stuff if I had the time.”
And in terms of the future: “It’s only just started. It feels like I’ve just pocked my head around the door,” he says.
It’s the word of mouth within the industry that has proved how Devon Film Logistics and the people of North Devon have been delivering.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for people to come here,” says Giuseppe.
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