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The daughter of a film star, Carole Andrè-Smith grew up on a studio backlot and has spent most of her life in the movie business – but not always in front of the camera. Scott Berman meets the head of international marketing at Rome’s Cinecittà Studios
When Carole Andrè- Smith was a young actress in Italian cinema, she found herself drawn to the other side of the camera. But, she says, “It was hard for a young, cute actress to be part of the business side of the industry.” How things change. Today, Andrè-Smith, 57, is head of international marketing at Cinecittà (‘cinema city’) Studios in Rome, as well as sitting on its board of directors.
A native of Paris who came to Italy aged 10, Andrè-Smith is the daughter of the late Gaby André, a busy actress in Italian cinema from the late 1930s until 1970. Carole’s earliest memories are of running around Cinecittà’s backlot during what would become a golden age of Italian cinema. Director Federico Fellini often used the studio, and Andrè-Smith appeared in his Fellini Satyricon (1969). Her first screen appearance, however, was in 1967, aged 14, in a spaghetti Western called Con Lui Cavalca La Morte, and she went on to appear in about 50 films, including Luchino Visconti’s Death in Venice (1971) with Dirk Bogarde. But while she has kept her hand in – with occasional film appearances and, recently, television – her professional life started to take another path decades ago.
Andrè-Smith loved acting, but not all the waiting around on set, when she found herself contemplating options like writing and, eventually, producing. Life moved on, and she married producer Paolo Infascelli (since divorced, they have one son in the industry – an agent in Hollywood). Then, in the 1980s, Andrè-Smith took a big step; she started a public relations agency in Rome, where she worked on event management and branding for banks, liquor, food and hotels. She enjoyed the work, but felt compelled to learn more, so she entered the Harvard Business School in Boston, USA. While taking the school’s Owner/President Management course from 1989 to 1992, she focused, naturally, on business management in entertainment.
Back in Italy, however, Andrè-Smith felt that she had a creative side that also needed attention. Too late? Far from it; she recalled that her two role models – her mother and an aunt – had launched interior decorating businesses after their careers as performers. She was soon studying garden design at London’s Inchbald School of Design, and architecture at La Sapienza University in Rome.
The latter coincided with a return, in 1998, to Cinecittà, which was in the process of restoring its business and brand after privatisation in 1997. The lot, built by Mussolini’s regime in the 1930s, needed restoration, and working on this gradually led to more responsibilities – Cinecittà’s board of directors hired her and, recognising her international experience, soon tasked her with international marketing.
Cinecittà is 80% owned by the Italian Entertainment Group while the rest is held by Cinecittà Luce, a company formed when it merged with another studio, Istituto Luce, in 2009. According to Andrè-Smith, last year’s turnover was about €40m, and Cinecittà employs about 200 people. To put this in context, a 2009 industry report found of the 9,071 companies of all types in the Italian film industry in 2008, almost half of them earned less than €1m annually and employed, on average, 22 people. Medusa, a Rome-based subsidiary of Berlusconi’s Mediaset, is Italy’s biggest film outfit, with Rai Cinema also ranking high, according to Giuseppe Massaro, a spokesman for the Roma Lazio Film Commission. Massaro also estimates that about 80% of the turnover of the Italian film industry happens in Rome, where tens of thousands of people are employed both in the field and by suppliers.
Outside Rome, three studio locations are owned or managed by Cinecittà, including Dino Studios, which was co-owned with the recently deceased producer Dino De Laurentiis. Cinecittà itself has 22 soundstages and a backlot for film and TV, with post-production facilities and a digital factory. Its biggest foreign production in recent times was Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York in 2002.
Today, the economic downturn means tough times for Italian entertainment businesses. The industry is hoping the government will reinstate a tax incentive scheme later in 2011, which Andrè-Smith believes has been an important spur for both homegrown and foreign filmmakers working in the country. Amid this, Cinecittà looks to attract new international business – namely production work from South America and China. There are plans for high-tech development at the Rome studio, a studio tour operation, and Cinecittà World, a reported €500m theme park at Via Pontina. The latter has been in the works for years. “Things can move slowly in Italy, and with good reason,” Andrè-Smith explains – this is a project with permitting and infrastructure complexities.
In the meantime, Andrè-Smith likes checking in with staff and clients throughout Cinecittà’s 40-hectare lot, in addition to overseeing the company’s external communication. She is attuned to Italian business life, such as forming committees and reaching group decisions, but keeps things like teamwork informal. “Carole’s an outsider in a good way,” says long-time associate Jacques Lipkau Goyard, a film producer and writer in Rome. He adds that the Italian film industry, generally speaking, lacks international acumen, with successful films produced and released locally that would never be marketed elsewhere. Thus international skills make sense; Andrè-Smith has them, and keeps abreast of trends.
Balancing her business and creative sides has always been important to Andrè-Smith, and she hopes to keep doing so in initiatives such as preservation work on the lot, non- profit foundation projects, and memorabilia marketing. Right now, technologies, delivery methods and content are continually reshaping the entertainment industry. Yet she believes that a couple of things remain constant: “People want to be entertained and they need an escape, good times or bad.”
Andre-Smith’s words of wisdom
Charm is good, and so is tenacity.
Pay attention to your public image; this matters to your company and your brand.
Be well prepared, so that you can always be articulate. With this in mind, media training makes sense.
Seek out diverse experiences and try new pursuits. Today, one career isn’t enough.
You can’t fake it for long. In other words, make sure you’re doing what you really love doing, because you may have to do your job 20 hours a day: competition is that tough.
Scott Berman a rencontré la directrice internationale du marketing des Studios Cinecittà à Rome
Née à Paris, Carole Andrè-Smith est la fille de Gaby André, une actrice qui a joué dans des productions italiennes de 1930 à 1970. Carole a grandi dans les coulisses des studios de Cinecittà à l’époque de l’âge d’or, faisant par la suite des apparitions dans plus de 50 films. Mais sa vie professionnelle prend rapidement un autre tournant.
Dans les années 1980, elle lance une agence de relations publiques à Rome. Elle étudie ensuite le management à la Harvard Business School, l’architecture de jardins à la London’s Inchbald School of Design et l’architecture à La Sapienza à Rome. Cette dernière étape coïncide avec son retour en 1998 à Cinecittà et avec de nouvelles responsabilités : à cette époque, le complexe a un grand besoin de modernisation.
Selon Andrè-Smith, le chiffre d’affaires de l’année dernière se montait à environ € 40m ; impressionnant en comparaison des résultats des entreprises de l’industrie des loisirs en 2008 – publiés dans un rapport 2009 – où la moitié enregistrait moins de € 1m. La crise économique va souvent de pair avec une réduction des investissements dans ce secteur, mais Cinecittà cherche à attirer de nouveaux marchés, comme l’Amérique du Sud et la Chine. Sont également prévus des développements technologiques et un parc à thèmes « Cinecittà World ».
Mais avant cela, Andrè-Smith aime suive ses équipes sur les 40 hectares du complexe de Cinecittà, en plus de la gestion de la communication externe. Pour elle, l’équilibre entre business et créativité est essentiel, autant dans son travail de préservation, les projets associatifs ou les produits dérivés du marketing. Et jamais elle ne faillit à sa devise : « les gens ont besoin de s’évader, que les temps soient difficiles ou pas. »
Scott Berman sprak met de verantwoordelijke voor internationale marketing van de Cinecittà Studios in Rome
Carole Andrè-Smith werd geboren in Parijs als dochter van Gaby André, een actrice in de Italiaanse filmindustrie van de jaren 1930 tot 1970. Ze maakte de gouden jaren mee in Cinecittà en acteerde in meer dan 50 films. Maar ze gooide het op professioneel vlak over een andere boeg. In de jaren 1980 richtte ze een pr-bureau op in Rome. Ze ging management studeren aan de Harvard Business School, tuinontwerp in Londen en architectuur in Rome. Zo keerde ze in 1998 terug naar Cinecittà. De filmstudio was aan vernieuwing toe en dat leidde langzamerhand tot meer verantwoordelijkheden.
Volgens Andrè-Smith draaide de studio vorig jaar een omzet van zo’n € 40m; indrukwekkend als je weet dat volgens een rapport uit 2009 nagenoeg de helft van de sector een zakencijfer van minder dan € 1m lieten optekenen in 2008. Entertainment krijgt flinke klappen door de economische crisis, maar Cinecittà wil business aantrekken uit Zuid-Amerika en China. Er zijn plannen voor hightech ontwikkelingen en een pretpark, Cinecittà World.
Andrè-Smith leidt de externe communicatie en houdt graag de vinger aan de pols bij het personeel in Cinecittà’s 40 hectare grote filmstudio. Een evenwicht tussen de zakelijke en de creatieve kant is altijd belangrijk geweest voor Andrè-Smith en ze hoopt dat te kunnen blijven doen met preservatiewerk, non-profitprojecten en memorabilia marketing. En er is één zekerheid in de filmindustrie: “Mensen moeten er soms es tussenuit, in goede en slechte tijden”.