Entrevista a Ana Almeida e José Pedro Lopes para o site do festival Jennifer's Bodies Film Festival da Escócia (19 de Fevereiro 2012). Pode ler neste link.
Entrevista a José Pedro Lopes para o site cinema7arte a propósito da estreia de "Survivalismo" no Arouca Film Festival (6 de Setembro 2011)
O Cinema 7ª Arte entrevistou autor da curta-metragem “Survivalismo”, José Pedro Lopes, que terá a sua estreia mundial no Arouca Film Festival 2011, que decorrerá de 9 a 11 de Setembro, integrando a selecção oficial. Está já também confirmada a sua presença na Competição Oficial pela Melies d’Argent no Abertoir 2011 – Wales’ National Horror Festival. Uma história simples que explora questões complexas, bem filmada, promete um final forte.
A história é sobre um homem que acorda com um saco na cabeça e uma corda em torno do pescoço, ele encontra-se em cima de uma cadeira numa situação onde um movimento brusco o pode deixar enforcado. Abandonado numa cave, o que será ele capaz de fazer para sobreviver?
“Survivalismo” é um thriller psicológico que disseca os Os Cinco Estágios do Luto do Modelo de Kübler-Ross e aplica-os a um cenário de rapto e uma envolvente de mistério. Enquanto o protagonista tenta descobrir porque foi colocado numa armadilha mortal, ele vai passando pelos estágios que o levarão à salvação: da Negação à Aceitação, passando pela Cólera, a Negociação e a Depressão. O projecto “Survivalismo” surgiu como um cruzamento entre o cinema experimental e o thriller psicológico de sobrevivência que visava surpreender e jogar com as expectativas do público. No entanto, a narrativa e a situação “impossível” onde a acção começava evoluiu para uma dissecção de como lidamos com situações difícil e com a perda.
Nascido no Porto em 1982, José Pedro Lopes é jornalista, produtor de cinema e televisão. Na área da ficção o seu primeiro trabalho foi como produtor e argumentista da curta-metragem de terror “A Noiva” de Ana Almeida. Este pequeno ‘slasher’ de 2007 foi selecção de 35 festivais de cinema, tendo vencido o prémio para Melhor Curta-Metragem Estrangeira no Bleedfest Los Angeles e integrado recentemente a Viscera Film Tour.
Em 2010, produziu a comédia romântica ‘Temperar a Gosto’ de Susana Neves (Menção Honrosa no Festival Porto7) e estreou-se na realização com a curtíssima ‘O Risco’ que tem vindo a surpreender festivais pelo mundo fora no ciclo Bicycle Film Festival e é finalista do Farcume – Festival de Curtas-Metragens de Faro.
Em 2011 foi um dos fundadores da produtora Anexo 82, uma produtora que se tem vindo a especializar na cobertura de eventos de índole cultural e social, conciliando o trabalho com os projectos de ficção. A produtora foi responsável pela distribuição dos dois filmes anteriores e é a produtora de “Survivalismo” que estreia esta semana no Arouca Film Festival.
Fale-nos do processo de filmagem da curta, que câmara foi usada, as condições logísticas, etc.
“Survivalismo” foi rodada com uma equipa muito pequena e em cenários muito controlados – todo o projecto foi rodado em apenas 2 dias. A nossa aposta em termos de formato foi para uma Canon 7D porque só as câmaras DSLR permitem criar o ‘look’ irreal e saturado em que o protagonista se encontra inserido.
Existe algum motivo em especial pela abordagem deste tema (os 5 estágios do luto)? De onde surge esta ideia?
Diz-se que “escrever é reescrever”. Este é um bom exemplo. Originalmente os 5 Estágios do Modelo Kubbler-Ross não faziam parte da história: o que surgiu primeiro foi o final e o resto do filme foi-se escrevendo a si próprio. Uma base teórica como os 5 Estágio do Luto ajudaram a trazer ordem à narrativa. Se “O Risco” era o filme inesperado dos Bicycle Film Festivals, então “Survivalismo” foi escrito para ser a surpresa conscienciosa dos festivais do fantástico: é uma espécie de protesto pacífico contra o “terror de tortura” que tem vindo a dominar o género.
Foi difícil convencer o ator a participar numa curta onde passa o tempo todo de pé com uma corda ao pescoço e onde nunca mostra a cara?
Já havia trabalhado com o Ivo Bastos antes, e ele é um ator fantástico. Foi a primeira escolha porque é dos atores mais expressivos e carismáticos que conheço e isso “passa” através do saco. Creio que no final acabamos por sentir o que ele sente. Não foi nada difícil ele aceitar o papel, bem pelo contrário. Ele é ator de teatro e os atores de teatro são muito físicos e capazes de aguentar tudo: a desafio de “Survivalismo” foi para ele coisa fácil.
Qual foi o percurso da curta até agora e como tem sido a reacção do público?
Para já ainda ninguém fora dos colaboradores e alguns amigos viram o filme, por tal, ainda não tenho bem ideia. Pedi a algumas pessoas da área ‘feedback’ e tem sido geralmente positivo. É um filme-mistério com um final muito forte e creio que é isso que tem sobressaído. Parece-me que o tem visto como um filme algo atípico para uma curta-metragem.
Quais são os próximos objectivos a alcançar com a curta e em que festivais é que irá passar?
O filme vai estrear no Arouca Film Festival deste fim-de-semana (dias 9, 10 e 11 de setembro). Em Novembro, irá ser exibido no Abertoir Horror Film Festival, como parte da competição do Melies D’Argent. Em termos de objectivos é sempre difícil delinear. As curtas quase não tem mercado, portanto quando mais exibições melhor, e quanto mais longe chegarmos com o trabalho melhor. A ficção surge como uma forma de levar o nosso trabalho a sítios onde naturalmente não iríamos, e conhecermos pessoas com que possamos vir a trabalhar.
Agora mudando um pouco de assunto. Sabemos que escreveu para a Take Cinema Magazine e para a Magazine HD. Continua a colaborar com as duas revistas?
Sou colaborador do site c7nema.net desde os seus primórdios e da Take Cinema Magazine desde 2010. Continuo a colaborar com ambos os projectos. Paralelamente, vou escrevendo para outras fontes noticiosas.
Que planos tem para um projecto futuro? Pode revelar-nos alguma coisa?
Um dos planos que temos é adaptar o argumento “Videoclube” escrito pela Ana Almeida. É um filme bastante diferente dos outros que fizemos, é uma história “coming-of-age” passada nos final dos anos 90 e o seu argumento foi selecionado para integrar o European Short Pitch da Nisi Masa em 2011. Também temos planos de fazer uma longa-metragem já que é, infelizmente, o formato que leva o cinema ao grande público e, derradeiramente, à sustentabilidade. Temos esse projecto mas será algo que só virá quando todas as estrelas se alinharem para o tornar possível.
autoria: Tiago Resende (cinema7arte)
Entrevista a José Pedro Lopes para Streaming Film Festival (7 de Novembro 2011)
A man wakes up with a bag in his head and a rope around his neck. He is standing on a chair in a very dangerous position, where a big movement would leave him hanged. Left alone in a basement, what will he do to survive?
’Survivalismo’ is a mysterious thriller that explores the Five Stages of Grief defined by the Kübler-Ross Model and applies them to a kidnap situation and a mystery storyline. While the protagonist tries to discover why he was put in such a deadly trap, he goes through the various steps that will lead him to salvation: from Denial to Acceptance, he lives through Rage, Negotiation and Depression.
But atonement doesn’t always lead to an happy ending, and the film’s surprise finale reveals that things aren’t always what they seem.
This project began as a ’survival’ thriller that aimed to surprise the audiences through playing with their expectations. But soon its storyline evolved into a dissection on how we deal with difficult situations and with lost.
Who is José pedro Lopes?
I was writer and director for ’Survivalismo’, an experimental horror short film that takes the Five Stages of Grief defined by the Kluber Ross Model and applies them to a mysterious kidnap situation.
What is Survivalismo about?
A man wakes up in an impossible situation. He doesn’t know why or how he got there - he only knows he has no way of getting out this trap where he was put into. His only solution is to talk is way out, but he doesn’t even know if anyone is listening.
As time passes, he goes lives all the Five Stages of Grief has he has no hope of ever escaping.
How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
I studied film at the Septima Ars Film School in Madrid, Spain. But I’ve been making films ever since I was a kid.
Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
Film is a team work from the very beginning.
I had the idea for ’Survivalismo’ watching a pitching session at a production forum. I had this idea of pitching about a short film that was very physical and intense: what If the person presenting his idea was pitching for his life?
So, in a way, the hanged man in ’Survivalismo’ is kind of "pitching" his way out of this trap. That was a start point.
’Survivalismo’ is also a twist-ending based project, and the shocking ending revelation was at the very beginning of the project and the film was built around this wrong perception of reality that this ending implies. I though that having two realities would help create a very atmosferic and visual horror film: one that would actually be an experimental piece in terms of feelings and perception.
How long do you usually work on one project?
’Survivalismo’ was a fast-project actually. I had the idea in February 2011 and the film was finished in June. But usually a short film takes about a year from conception to being done.
Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
I prefer to have everything fully planned. ’Survivalismo’ was all planned when we shot it and it looks and sounds and feels exactly like what was planned.
I find that having everything plan actually helps everything else on the film to be more intuitive. As a director, I had little to worry about Photography or Production Design on set for it was all already done. It was just me and the actor, and we were able to experiment a lot in terms of acting for everything else was planned.
How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
I hate coming up with titles to short films. Usually, if it has a line, this ’The Line’, if it has a bride, it’s ’The Bride’. These pre-production titles end up being the final title for people who work on the film end up liking them.
In the case of ’Survivalismo’ I made an effort not to be like this. I didn’t want the title of to neither too psychological nor horror-themed. And I actually wanted it to be a title that would kind of hide the surprise ending.
’Survivalism’ is about people who are paranoid about the end of the world, and who prepare everything to survive. My protagonist is also very eager to survive and he is about to say anything to walk out of this trap alive...
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
They just come to me, like a lightning that strikes me in the head.
But I watch a lot of films, all kinds of films from all kinds of eras and countries. If you want to be a filmmaker, you have to love films and have a need to watch them.
How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
Good sound or bad sound can make or destroy a film. If you are making a lo-budget film, you can\’t fail on the sound for it\’s a first thing that turns your audience off - even more than photography. When you see a \"Found Footage\" film, they don\’t have much to look at, but the sound is always involving and you always ear everything.
As an experimental horror piece, ’Survivalismo’ is all about sound. Emanuel Gracio’s work is amazing - his soundtrack and the sounds he created are involving and evolve thought the film.
How does content relate to the form of your work?
It doesn’t. I think I should be the most professional and do my best in spite of being a better or worse content.
What possibilities of the web are yet to be explored?
In terms of film, I think the web is the most democratized place there is. Now more than ever, you can learn about alternative films and different cinematographies. There is loads of information that one could never get back in the 90s. This is amazing.
Unfortunately still, as with everything, this potential isn’t taken by users necessarily the most interesting way. Hollywood films dominate what most websites write and talk about. Silly youtube videos have billions of views versus the small crowd that actually sees full contents on other places.
Yet, this is all about the users. The internet is an amazing place, but I feel most users don’t actually take much advantage of it. That’s what we call democracy.
Did the web changed your view on art, or your career?
My first short, ’A Noiva’, was seen by over thousands of people online and I was screened publicly over 50 times thanks to all the festival and clubs I find online. I’ve met people who didn’t know me but knew my film, and that\’s always rewarding.
Where would you place your work; cinema or art. And what is the difference between those according to you?
Cinema is art. If there\’s bad cinema and bad art I’m not the one to judge.
How influential is the reaction to your film by the audience?
It\’s all about the audience.
My previous short film, ’O Risco’, has amazing reactions from live audiences for it’s a splatter comedy, with a tight pace. People laugh their heads off and always clap at the end. This makes me very happy, to see people enjoy a work I was involved in like this.
I only saw ’Survivalismo’ with an audience once, and since this is actually a very negative downbeat film, I was not surprise of the absolute silence that it was received from start to finish from an audience that had been very participative. I look forward to see it again live, to see how it works.
What is your next project about?
I’m currently producing a 90s set romantic comedy by Ana Almeida about the end of the VHS-era and the arrival of DVDs. It will be a analogical film-buff comedy - and the script is to lovely to be true.
Entrevista a José Pedro Lopes para o site See Horror a propósito da participação de "Survivalismo" no Jennifer's Bodies Film Festival (Dezembro 2011)
When was the first time you watched a horror film, and how did it affect you?
It’s hard to say, but having an older brother meant I began watching horror movies sooner than most people. I actually remember tricking my grandmother into taking me to see Gremlins 2 at the cinema when I was eight or nine years old.
What was it that first attracted you to horror?
I’ve always enjoyed horror movies. When I was a teenager, I enjoyed the adrenaline.
But the more horror you see, from different countries and directors, the more you realise that there’s much more than meets the eye. I would say horror movies, and fantasy movies in a broader sense, have become political, relevant and are often the most audacious form of filmmaking. It’s no longer just about the scares.
What achievement are you most proud of?
I think managing to bring a group of talented people together and make a film is always something to be proud of. It’s easy to give up considering that there is very little money in European independent filmmaking, and even less in the Portuguese movie scene. But, watching your movie with an audience is an incredibly rewarding experience. I saw my last short, O Risco (The Line) – a splatter comedy – at the Bicycle Film Festival where it was a surprise film. It was hilarious people were laughed as I’d never seen before. That was something to be proud of.
What are you working on now?
Anexo 82 (my production company) are working on three short films right now that I’m set to produce (I’m not the director of any of them). One is a long time project based on a script by my long time collaborator Ana Almeida. It is a dreamy nineties drama about the end of the VHS era called Videostore. Then there’s Pacient EV-136, it’s a merciless horror film. I guess I always go back to horror – it’s in me.
Who do you admire in the horror world?
The person I admire the most in the horror world is John Carpenter. Halloween is my dream movie – it inspired a lot my first film A Noiva (The Bride) in 2007. His latest film The Ward was great. Carpenter has a real sense of rhythm, fun and scares.
There are many horror authors that I admire, especially nowadays as the genre has become so rich. Lucky McKee has done two excellent horror films (May and The Woman), I’m really into Rob Zombie’s instant cult films (his Devil’s Rejects duo and take on Halloween), Takeshi Miike (Audition and Ichi The Killer) and James Wan (Insidious was a real thrill ride).
Do you prefer gore or psychological horror?
Gore alone with no reason is not very interesting, unless it’s fun like Peter Jackson’s Braindead. Psychological horror can be good, but can also be over-derivative. I guess I prefer a good film than one that’s specifically gory or psychologically chilling.
How important is it to unsettle a viewer?
It’s very important to get a reaction from the viewer. Too often films allow people to watch them passively from start to finish. You have to unsettle the viewer, whether through fear or another emotional reaction. Occasionally I like watching deeply unsettling films such as Secuestrados (Kidnapped) by Miguel Angels Vivas – it will leave you afraid of being in your own house.
How do you evoke fear?
One thing I like in horror films, especially classic horror, is iconography. I think it’s important to have a strong world and a strong set of codes to create a scary story: rules, method and consequences.
What scares you?
I find films like The Road and Children of Men to be way scarier than traditional horror films. I enjoy horror films, and love fantasy, but it’s simple disgusting human behaviour that scares me.
Why should people watch your films?
To enjoy themselves. Hopefully.
How far is too far when it comes to horror cinema?
I’m not one for rules. I guess too far is when there is little point going further – the point has been made! Films such as The Isle by Kim Ki Duk are very hard to watch, yet the violence serves a purpose
Torture horror is of no interest to me. Not because it goes too far, but because it’s lazy filmmaking and lazier storytelling.
How do you think horror cinema will evolve in the next ten years?
Horror films are becoming much more human and socially aware. Take, for example, The Woman, Eden Lake and The Loved Ones. Or for a more amusing take, consider Attack the Block. There are also some incredibly imaginative horror films, such as Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale. The genre is constantly evolving.
I would like to see horror films explore urban apartments and buildings more. Both The Ring and The Grudge tap into this to some extent.
Recommend a film.
Balada Triste de Trompeta (The Last Circus) by Alex de La Inglesa is one of the most emotional films I have ever seen, it won the Melies D’Or in 2011. It’s a true masterpiece.
I would also recommend Monsters by Gareth Edwards, it’s one of my favourite films this year.
Entrevista a José Pedro Lopes para o site Mangled Matters a propósito da participação de "Survivalismo" no Jennifer's Bodies Film Festival (Janeiro 2012)
Saturday, January 21, 2012
An Interview With Director José Pedro Lopes
by Justin Hamelin
José Pedro Lopes is a journalist, writer, cartoonist and filmmaker. He's also a John Carpenter fanatic like myself. Double points.
Hailing from Portugal, Mr. Lopes wrote the short film 'A Noiva', a slasher flick, in 2007. The short was shown in over 35 film festivals across the globe and received two awards.
José cut his teeth as a director on 'O Risco', a splatter comedy that hit the film festival circuit in 2011. Critically acclaimed (4 nominations at Killer Film Festival here in the states, 2nd place at the International Cycling Film Festival in Germany), the film was shown at 15 festivals.
His latest short, 'Survivalismo', is downright awesome. Having had the pleasure of viewing and reviewing the film, I can honestly say it is one of my favorite shorts I've ever seen. It's a thinking game a la 'Saw', without all the gore. Psychological terror at it's most basic. At it's best.
With a true passion for the art of filmmaking, José founded his production company, Anexo 82, and is a real up and comer in the indie horror community.
I had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Lopes recently and was able to pick his brain a bit on a number of subjects.
1. How did you think up the storyline for 'Survivalismo'?
I was attending a European co-production forum in Strasbourg (France) with my producer Ana Almeida. She was there to present her new short film project, so I saw all the presentations and the rehearsals by everyone there.
Inevitably, I started to think of a "pitch" of my own. How could I present a short film that would impress on a stage, speaking. And that's where this cenographic idea of a man stuck in a trap who must talk his way out came. That and the "twist ending" I idea, which I had from the start and help me to create all the story.
The Five Stage of Grief, even though have become a big part of the film, where not in the genesis of 'Survivalismo' - it was a way of creating a more dense, realistic emotional reaction to the situation.
2. Was this your first venture into psychological horror as a director?
I've always made films, ever since I was a teenager, with friends. Even then, I was very much into fantasy, sci-fi and horror.
But only in 2007 was that I started making more professional short films. I wrote and produced Ana Almeida's "A Noiva" which is a european take on the slasher genre - it picks up a lot of its imaginary to the Giallo cinema and mixes it with an asian
Last year I directed two short films that played strongly in the fantasy film circuit. One was 'Survivalismo', the other was 'O Risco' (The Line) - a 2 minute splatter comedy that plays homage to John Carpenter.
I don't see myself as much of a horror filmmaker for neither 'Survivalismo' or 'O Risco' are horror films - they're inside that vague concept of fantastic films, but they're not actually scary.
3. What attracted you to film making?
I began watching films at a very young age for my brother was a film buff. So I was watching horror movies growing up. Early on, I was watching denser, complex films. I always wanted to be a filmmaker but I was never too sure I was able of making a film. That took me actually a long time.
Every time I meet someone knew who loves films and film making (not necessarily the same thing) I feel more inspired and driven to make new films.
4. Admittedly, 'Survivalismo' hasn't fared as well in 'regular' festivals as opposed to film fests dedicated to fantasy or suspense. This surprises me. Why do you think that is?
I'm never too comfortable judging festival selections for I'm a festival programmer too and I'm always conscious that my films are not perfect and are not for all tastes.
I was expecting that 'Survivalismo' would perform better in non-fantasy festivals than it did - but at some point, submitting films becomes expensive and I end up betting on the fantasy festivals. I know them better, and I like the fan-base they bring.
When I look at festivals I can think that if 'Survivalismo' plays on a standard festival, it will reach one or two people who will like it a lot. But if it plays in horror festivals it will reach people like you who are into this kind of films.
But I would like to make a film with a broader appeal. 'Survivalismo' tried not to be a fantasy-oriented film and more a art-driven experimental film. It ended up kind of in between, I guess.
5. This being a 'thinking man's 'Saw' ', where the terror and suspense is all psychological, are you more a fan of in-your-face violence or what's-behind-the-closed-door terror?
I usually like most films I see and I get very involved while watching them. If something is suspenseful and terrifying, I'll be really hit by it. For this, I dislike unjustified, tasteless violence. I'm more into horror films that don't need violence - and the so-called 'torture porn' genre isn't for my taste at all. 'Saw' is actually a very clever, well written film. But 'Survivalismo' was kind of a art-house, experimental, non-violent approach to the 'torture porn' subject - consciously.
6. What are a few of your favorite horror films?
'Halloween' by John Carpenter is my favourite - for all of its suspense. I love 'A Nightmare on Elm Street', 'The Innocents', 'Ringu', ''Audition'... too many films. Recently, I really enjoyed 'Insidious' by James Wan and even more recently I was very surprised with 'The Innkeepers'.
7. Who are some directors you admire?
I'm a die-hard fan of John Carpenter in all of his eras. But I love lots of directors in all genres.
8. Can you update us on how many film festivals 'Survivalismo' has been in?
It has been in 16 film festivals. It's upcoming screenings with be at Jennifer's Bodies Film Festival (part of the Women in Horror Celebration Month in Scotland), Yubari Fanta International Film Festival (Japan) and Landshut International Short Film Festival (Germany) on the Deadline award competition. I'm planning of distribute it in festivals along 2012.
9. What is the horror film landscape like in Portugal?
Up until 2005, there were very few features and shorts on the horror genre. In recent year, the horror genre woke up - but mostly in short films. One of our main festivals is Motelx: Lisbon's Horror Film Festival and dozen of films are made thinking to its short film competition. I fear, though, that this "boom" can go away as suddenly as it came.
10. What projects are you currently working on?
Since making shorts is not a business, at least not for me (I accept advices on this issue haha) ,sometimes I don't have the time I want to make more films.
I'm producing "Videoclub" by Ana Almeida, the short film that was presented in Strasbourg. It's a drama set in the 90s and its a project that's very dream to me. I'm also producing a mystery short film called 'Auguste' and an horror thriller called 'Pacient EV-136'.
I've some ideas for short films but only after these projects. And I would prefer to do a feature rather than a short - I guess that's the main goal of film making.
I sincerely thank José for all of his time and enthusiasm. I look forward to more great things from Mr. Lopes and Portugal for a very long time!