Massimo My is a film writer, producer and director, making him a mainstay of Italy’s documentary industry. In 2020 at Sunny Side of the Doc Connected Edition, he presented Under The Volcano. This one-off documentary directed by Laurence Thiriat is the first co-production from the international Global Doc alliance, whereby MyMax (Italy) worked alongside Artline Films (France), RAI Documentari and France Télévisions. Production shall finish mid-February 2021.
Massimo My talks to Sunny Side of the Doc about the health crisis and its impact on the documentary community in Italy, his relationships with international producers and collaborations with Italian museums and cultural sites.
“Having an international co-producer enables you to put together large productions and receive major funding from Italian programmes.”
Can you tell us a little bit about your career history and MyMax?
Massimo My: In the 80s, I started off by making films with computer-generated imagery (CGI), working with numerous producers and broadcasters in Italy such as RAI 2 for the Voyager series. We also produced all the special effects for their History and Archaeology programmes.
In 2004, I founded MyMax Edutainment Ltd., which specialises in visual effects and documentary production. As the market had changed and I had experience working in documentary in 1998, I decided to change the direction of my business and focus on this genre. I wanted to learn more and expand my network, so I took part in many marketplaces such as Sunny Side of the Doc. This enabled me to develop important professional relationships with partners such as KTO Productions, Arte and even ZDF in 2019.
Another major event is of course the one organised by DocIT, the Italian Documentary Filmmakers’ Association, for which I’m also a board member.
Has the health crisis had an impact on film shoots, such as filming for “Under the Volcano”?
Massimo My: Lots of film shoots have ground to a halt. As I speak, Italy has currently introduced a three-tier zoning system depending on the severity of the Covid-19 epidemic. We were lucky enough to be able to film between July and September, as we had just exited the first lockdown period and it was before entering the second one. Evidently, we’re delighted because it meant we could finish the film on time for February 2021.
As for others, the situation is indeed a little more complicated…
Has your dual-profession as documentary producer and visual effects producer opened up other doors apart from opportunities from television channels?
Massimo My: Indirectly, yes. As I was saying, my background is in VFX and I’ve dabbled in virtual reality on several occasions. Between 2005 and 2012, I worked for several museums in Rome, in particularly the Capitoline Museums. I created virtual reconstitutions of Ancient Rome, either for television or for DVD release.
And in 2021, we have a project with Galaxie Presse on the Etruscan civilization.
Is there a network between producers, TV channels and museums?
Massimo My: There are very few examples of this type of collaboration, simply because there are no development programmes on a national level. I would say that the relationship between a museum and a producer is more often initiated by the cultural mediation team leading a project. Producers can submit a project related to the museum, but this doesn’t happen very often.
On the other hand, the e-learning sector is developing strongly, especially with the successive lockdown periods. For example, the History Channel available on the Sky platform is currently developing interactive content to bring attractive content to support the education system.
How would you describe the Italian financing system for documentary?
Massimo My: Difficult? But in all seriousness, let’s say that the money is there but getting to it can often be rather difficult. Having an international co-producer is an advantage. For example, I have several projects lined up in 2021 with France, Germany and Austria. MyMax is developing a series with NHK.
When you have a promising subject and, more importantly, an international co-producer, the dialogue with those with the cash is greatly facilitated and you can put together large productions. Just take “Under the Volcano”. It has a €700,000 budget: €200K comes from Italy in equal parts from RAI and the Campania regional fund. A further €115,000 in tax credits is added to this, and we hope to obtain around €80K to €100K from the Italian national film fund over the following months. If all goes well, that amounts to €400K from Italy…. It’s a dream come true, right?
The idea is to development progressively in order to secure funding step by step.
In your opinion, what does Sunny side of the Doc represent?
Massimo My: An exceptional marketplace that’s one of a kind where I’ve learnt so much and built my network of partners. For me, there are only three important events each year: Sunny Side of the Doc, World Congress of Science & Factual Producers and IDS (Italian DOC Screenings). I can’t wait to come back to La Rochelle next June!