Franco Di Chiera talks Big Mamma’s Boy
If you're going to compare local comedy Big Mamma's Boy to a film like 2002 hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, don't do it in front of Franco Di Chiera.
The director says that while he understands where this idea might come from, the notion is absurd.
"The only parallels that you could draw is that it's about a non-English speaking family ," he says. "I don't buy that. It's like saying other romantic comedies are like Notting Hill because they're set in an English-speaking community in London."
"I did take inspiration from the success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, in that so often those stories are marginalized because people just see them as an immigrant story."
Big Mamma's Boy – which received the producer offset tax break and Screen Australia completion funds – touts itself as a comedy about life, love and lasagna. It follows the story of 35-year-old Rocco (Frank Lotito) and his decision to move out of home in order to impress lady-love Katie (former Neighbours star and sometimes-singer Holly Valance.)
Penned by Lotito (who also undertook not only acting but producing duties) and shot with the Sony F35, the Melbourne feel-good comedy was filmed in April last year for six weeks.
The director's initial involvement with the film began when he provided feedback for early drafts of the script via email. From here, he moved to official script editor before being asked by Lotito and producer Matteo Bruno if he would come on board as director.
"It's really about a young man's journey learning to be independent, and that's cutting off the apron strings from his mother, learning how to be responsible so that's he's a good candidate for a relationship," says Di Chiera.
But what about the fact that at 35, Rocco is cutting those strings much later than most?
Having grown up in an Italian community himself, Di Chiera says he relates to the idea of boys spending much of their adult lives at home.
"It became a real issue even in Italy, where parents were trying to get rid of their children," he says. "There was a court case where the son took the parents to court and the court ruled that until he was of independent means, the parents were financially liable for taking care of him. I think he was about 55."
Carmelina DI Guglielmo stars as Mamma
With no screenings overseas, Bruno says Australia will be the “testing ground” for the film and then will aim to get it sold to other territories.
“We just hope that the audiences get behind it – we have a really patriotic audience that has been enthusiastic about it and it has a big following on social networks,” he says.
“We have this cult following that’s happening which is always a good sign but we need everyone to jump on board and support all Australian films.”
Big Mamma's Boy opens across 34 metro screens today, with regional screenings following in the next couple of weeks.
The trailer can be seen here.