EXCLUSIVE: London-based production studio Pulse Films is expanding its global footprint with the addition of an office in Milan, Italy.
The move is part of a larger partnership with local indie Indiana Production, which has recent credits including Liam Neeson pic Made In Italy and The Burnt Orange Heresy. The endeavor will see Pulse produce Italian content across film, docs, TV, music and commercials under the banner Pulse Films Italia.
Kicking off the venture is a feature documentary about legendary Italian filmmaker Sergio Leone, which will be made in co-production with the Leone Film Group. Francesco Zippel (Friedkin Uncut, Fantastic Mr. Fellini) is directing and writing the pic, which will chronicle how Leone became one of the most influential directors of his era. In particular, Leone is noted for his pioneering Spaghetti Western movies A Fistful Of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, which saw Clint Eastwood transform from TV actor into international movie star.
Leone also directed the classic 1968 western Once Upon A Time In The West with Charles Bronson, Henry Fonda and Claudia Cardinale, and later the epic gangster film Once Upon A Time In America with Robert De Niro and James Woods, which would be the director’s final feature before his death in 1989 at the age of just 60. Despite the film having a positive response after it debuted at Cannes in 1984, a version of the movie heavily edited by its producers was a critical and commercial disaster in the U.S. – after the original cut was restored, the film has been reappraised as a classic of its genre.
The feature doc will include exclusive archive material from the Cineteca di Bologna, as well as interviews with high-profile talent connected with Leone.
Pulse Films Italia will be led by Italian filmmaker Giorgio Testi, an award-winning director from the Pulse Films stable, who will take the role of Managing Director. He will work alongside Martina Zambeletti as Exec Producer. Testi is noted for his work with bands including The Killers, The Rolling Stones and The 1975, as well as brands like Porsche, Budweiser and Peroni. He has produced and directed a number of feature docs including Blur pic No Distance Left To Run.
Back in April, Deadline sat down with Pulse Films CEO Thomas Benski to talk about the country’s future. The multi-faceted company now operates offices in London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin.
“Italy holds an extremely special place in my heart as I spent much of my childhood there, and it is the place where my family still reside,” Benski tells Deadline about the new venture. “This country has such a rich history in bringing us amazing voices across film, TV and music it felt natural for us to embrace that and create a real presence there. I am proud and excited to be able to expand our studio into the Italian marketplace, to establish and invest our presence in what is one of the most creative markets in the world. With local support from our friends at Indiana Production, Pulse Films Italia will be primed to create and collaborate with local and international clients and filmmakers.”
“The Italian market is a very attractive space for our studio,” says Testi. “With so much investment being made, now feels like the perfect time for us to approach the local industry in a meaningful way. Leveraging Pulse Films’ global brand, skillset and infrastructure gives us a unique opportunity to be a leader across all formats – from short form music videos and commercials, to high-end feature films and TV. Pairing this offering with the extensive local knowledge Thomas Benski and I have of the market will enable us to bridge the gap between the US/UK and Italian markets in a way that no other local production company can do. Together with Martina Zambeletti and our friends at Indiana Production, we’re excited to bring all that we do at Pulse Films to a new market full of exciting opportunities.”
“We have been working with director Francesco Zippel on this project for some time, and it is one about which we are particularly passionate, for obvious reasons” said Raffaella Leone, CEO of Leone Film Group, on the Sergio Leone doc. “We are therefore delighted to announce that we have signed a coproduction agreement with Pulse Films, and together we will work to create a documentary that is as ambitious and as innovative as Leone and his movies has been. Once again, we would like to thank Gianluca Farinelli and the Cineteca di Bologna for their precious help. “
After an initial soft launch off-the-radar, Pulse Films Italia has been quietly plugging away at projects during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. Its work includes the doc Liberi e Pensanti. Uno Maggio Taranto, which aired on the Italian free-to-air TV channel La7 on May 1.
The wider Pulse Films business recently debuted the epic scripted drama series Gangs Of London on Sky in the UK, as well as the Spike Jonze-directed Beastie Boys Story on AppleTV+. The company also saw its package Perfect, directed by Olivia Wilde and about Olympic gymnast Kerri Strug, sell to Searchlight Pictures.