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Saturday, 05 April 2014 00:00

I tell you the true story of ...Santa Claus!

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The "young" Santa Claus with his parents in Lapland The "young" Santa Claus with his parents in Lapland

I have just returned from Lapland. That is why I have not been very present on the blog in the last two weeks.

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And even though I went there to shoot the images of a documentary that will be aired only next December, I wanted to give you a preview of this experience that has really been beautiful, both in terms of professional and personal enrichment.
First of all, I begin by telling you one thing I am particularly proud of: this documentary (which I am producing for the RAI Tre program "Geo & Geo") tells the "true" story of Santa Claus, one of my biggest myths!
Something I have always wanted to do!

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But beyond the affection I have for the paunchy, dressed in red man, the aspect that most I want to highlight in this article is the difficulty that this television challenge presents: in fact, while telling a story which starts from the purest fantasy, this production has the "duty" to keep the slant of a nature documentary and a geographical reportage. Because this is expressly requested by the Production of the program, to match its editorial line.

Santa24 WMThat is to say my film has to be able to contextually fascinate both for its Christmas suggestions (tied to the magical world of Santa Claus and his elves) and also and above all for his ability to tell the magic and magnificence of the snow-covered taiga, of those wild animals that live in it and of the deep relationship that puts them at the base of the Sami people's culture.

In short, not just a small challenge... Which - I confess – during the writing of the script kept me awake.
Because, of course, due to a whole series of more or less obvious reasons, I absolutely could not use professional actors; but, likewise obviously, there was also a part of "almost-fiction" that I still had to take home.
And so: how to gently mix the talented figurants, dressed as Santa Claus and Elves and their fantastic story in a nature documentary on Lapland?

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I have found (or at least I think...) the solution to this complicated production dilemma in a question that I always have asked to myself, since I was a child, every December 25 morning: who was Santa Claus before he started to grow its white beard and wear a red dress? Which kind of life has Santa Claus ever lived?

For me this has been a really fundamental guideline, the decisive one.
By focusing on the purpose of giving the most convincing answer to this question during the process of writing, I put myself in the best conditions to outline a profile of the "young" Santa Claus that, while maintaining some features of uniqueness and exceptionality (he always is Santa Claus, even if still a child!), also corresponded to the paradigmatic one of a small Lapp belonging to an unspecified historical age, but certainly antecedent to the modern days.
A small Lapp who, along with his parents, faces the harshness of the Arctic thanks to the inseparable reindeers and what the forest can offer.
Of course I still had to solve the problem of the origin of the tradition of the gifts delivered to all children in the world on Christmas Eve.

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This is why I have introducted into the story two girls, Santa Claus' best friends and playmates in the forest since childhood, the firsts ever to find the mysterious presents out of the house door on the December 25 morning: two small statues carved in wood from Santa Claus himself, when he was just 9 years old.

Santa18 WMBut the function of these two toys is not limited only to this and even they get to play a much more important narrative function because, ideally, those small, wodden statues take on a role as a fundamental link among all the parts of the story:


  • the present Santa Claus squeezes them in his hands at the beginning of the documentary while sledding at the start of his world tour
  • → the young Santa Claus carves the wood collected in the forest between an adventure with her friends and the work along with his parents in the reindeer fence
  • → the present Santa Claus, again, holds them tight to his body at the end of the documentary and we understand that in these first toys built by him there is a piece of his heart.

In practice, these small statues allow me to make of the winter taiga and of the world of the Lapps the true protagonists of this sweet, Christmas documentary.

The most fascinating part of the shooting has certainly been the one with the beautiful Finnish children, sons of farmers, who have contributed with joy and energy to the film making.
They had never been in front of a camera before, nor I had the chance to know them in advance and "catechize" them. For this reason I think I can say their footage is really nice and tender. And also thanks to this I have had the chance to tell the "true" story of Santa Claus!

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Production aspects related to the shooting in the field will be the subject of the next post in the Production section.

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