In his career, Ferretti has worked with many great directors, in America and hos native Italy; such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Terry Gilliam, Franco Zefferelli, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Anthony Minghella and Tim Burton. He frequently collaborates with his wife, set decorator Francesca lo Schiavo. Ferretti was a protégé of Federico Fellini, and worked under him for five films. He also had a five collaboration with Pier Paolo Pasolini and later developed a very close professional relationship with Martin Scorsese, designing seven of his last eight movies.
Among his major triumphs include the movies: Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom, commonly referred to as Salò, a controversial 1975 Italian film written and directed by Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini. It is based on the book The 120 Days of Sodom by the Marquis de Sade. Because of its scenes depicting intensely graphic violence, sadism, and sexual depravity, the movie was extremely controversial upon its release, and remains banned in several countries to this day. It was Pasolini’s last film; he was murdered shortly before Salò was released.
The Name of the Rose, a 1986 film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud, based on the book of the same name by Umberto Eco. Sean Connery is a Franciscan friar who are called upon to solve a deadly mystery in a medieval abbey. The sets add to the sense of dread and deception.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a 1992 American Gothic-horror-romance directed and co-produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel by Bram Stoker. Gary Oldman apart, the movie is laden with wooden performances, however the sets and look of the movie are exceptional.
Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles is a 1994 American horror-drama directed by Neil Jordan, based on the 1976 novel by Anne Rice. The film focuses on the homo-erotic relationship between vampires Lestat and louis, beginning with Louis’ transformation into a vampire by Lestat in 1791. The film chronicles their time together, and their turning of a twelve year old Creole girl, Claudia, into a vampire. The narrative is framed by a present day interview, in which Louis tells his story to a San Francisco reporter. Once again, beautiful art direction and sets dominate the film.
Gangs of New York is a 2002 historical drama set in the mid-19th century in the Five Points district of New York City directed by Martin Scorsese. Made in Cinecitta Studios in Rome, and nominated for numerous awards, including the Academy Award for Best Picture. In order to create the sets that Scorsese envisioned, the production was filmed on the largest stages in Cinecitta. Production designer Dante Ferretti recreated over a mile of mid-nineteenth century New York buildings, consisting of a five-block area of Lower Manhattan, including the Five Points slum, a section of the East River waterfront including two full-sized sailing ships, a thirty-building stretch of lower Broadway, a patrician mansion, and replicas of Tammany Hall, a church, a saloon, a Chinese theater, and a gambling casino. For the Five Points, Ferretti recreated George Catlin’s painting of the area.
Ferretti won two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for The Aviator and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He is nominated at this years awards for Hugo, he has had nine previous nominations. In addition, he was nominated for Best Costume Design for Kundun.