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AN INTERVIEW WITH Roberto Jabor, FILMMAKER
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself and let us know why you became a filmmaker?
I was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro and I’ve a Bachelor Degree in Advertising. In early 70’s, in Brazilian TV, we had a lot of American shows and films on air. I remember watching “The Twilight Zone” and Roger Corman’s B movies, and I started to read the American writer Edgar Allan Poe. Later on I was infatuated watching Robert Wise’s “The Haunting” (1963) and “The Day the Earth Stood Still” (1951), and with the 80’s masterpiece “The Shining” directed by Stanley Kubrick. Still in the 80’s, I started to study acting and played as an actor in a Brazilian feature film entitled “Baixo Gavea” (1986) with well-known Brazilian actors. In this experience I discovered the “filmmaking set” and I fell in love to be behind the camera. In 1988, I wrote, produced and directed my first short film, “Os Herdeiros do Solar The Usher” (The Heirs of the House of Usher), based on two tales of Edgar Allan Poe with a famous Brazilian actress/TV performer Elke Maravilha. This 40 minutes short film is part of the book "80's The Gold Decade Of The Horror Movie" 2011, written by the Italian Matteo Tortora and was officially selected to Rio International Film Festival 88. Since then I’m consistently working as a filmmaker, director and producer.
Give us some more information about the films you have made so far, about your experience.
After my first short film, from 89 to 93, I directed 4 short movies based on writers such as the French writer Guy de Maupassant and the Brazilian writer Caio Fernando Abreu with well-known TV’s Brazilian actors. This film was selected in several film festivals. Still in the 90’s, I directed two successful TV Series for Globo TV Network and made 7 short films/TV movies. I started teaching in the acting classes throughout Brazil with the sponsor of FUNARTE Brazilian Foundation of Art). I’ve been honored in 1997 with a Retrospective of my filmmaking at Centro Cultural Banco do Brazil (Bank of Brazil Cultural Center). In 2000 I was invited to be Artistic Director for the Cisneros TV Group moving to Miami where I had some acting lectures in workshops in Portuguese, Spanish and English and produced and directed a Spanish-spoken independent TV Movie. Back to Brazil I’ve been developing co-productions with Croatia and US making the feature film “RGB:RedGreenBlue” in 2005 and the English-spoken short film “The Meeting” in 2009. I have received many awards for my filmmaking both in Brazil and abroad.
As a filmmaker, why did you make your Narrative Feature Film “Anima Sola“?
In one of my acting workshops for TV and Cinema in Rio, and I was developing in my mind an idea to make an ultra-low-budget horror feature film mixing new talents from my acting classes with professional actors from Brazilian’s Telenovelas. I started out doing a research about a theme which could have a Latin touch but still an old American horror/thriller movies style. One day, late night, I was watching films on HBO Brazil and “Gothika”, with Halle Berry, Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz, was on, I saw it again and again. I noticed the character of Penelope Cruz, “Chloe Sava”, was always talking about Anima Sola. It was weird, because her character was a Latin character, and I didn’t know anything about the myth of the Saint Anima Sola. I researched the subject in depth and I found the story extremely interesting. The Roman Catholic Church with a Saint who is still in the purgatory. A Saint created by men. Italian immigrants brought this incredible myth to America. So, with all those elements I made the feature film “Anima Sola”.
What are the films or people that had impacts on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
As I said above, directors as Roger Corman, for his low budget horror movies from the 60’s, Stanley Kubrick by his masterpiece “The Shining”, Robert Wise, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Wells, Otto Preminger, Elia Kazan, Billy Wilder among others. Those filmmakers use every facet of film production -- from lighting to art direction and soundtrack -- to create their own signature. Recently, I’ve been inspired by Rhyan Murphy and his masterpiece “American Horror Story”.
What are your favorite genres to work on? Why?
Well, I do love horror/thriller/mystery movies and psychological, but a good script with good actors and the right atmosphere
can make a “Classic American Horror Movie”. To me, American filmmakers really know how to make a horror/thriller/mystery and
I have been studying it as far as I can remember.
In filmmaking who do you like to work with if you have a choice?
I do love to direct actors, I started out as an actor. From the past, I would love to work with Marlon Brando and James Dean.
Definitely, Betty Davis, her work as Baby Jane was incredible. Nowadays, Robert De Niro, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, Amy Adams,
Meryl Streep, Susan Saradon, Charlize Theron, so many excellent actors, this list could go to more than a hundred names.
Your film "Anima Sola" was officially selected in the "American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
Being a low-budget feature you have to struggle into many things, but once I’ve made a lot of low-budget films down here,
I have to use my expertise to shoot in a few locations, in a fewer days, without compromise my vision and quality,
also rehearsing with the actors before the set. Save time.
For you what was the biggest lesson you had to learn?
Making a film is all about a good story, good actors and crew. If you have been surrounded by people who understand your vision,
you have half away of your work done. Everyone is very important to collaborate together to make a great movie.
To you, what part of the filmmaking is the hardest part?
Financing is one of them. Down here, we don’t have an investor or investments to make films. We need to go under the
Brazilian Agency of Cinema (ANCINE), with a lot of bureaucracy to get a stamp allowing us to find sponsors.
It’s a mess, because those sponsors would have a tax break given by the Brazilian Government through this agency,
so at the end of the day, ANCINE controls everything, even who is going to sponsor who.
If you have a “friend” in the agency or in the Brazilian Government everything goes smoothly, if not, you are not allowed
to get any sponsor. Films can't be made under this bureaucracy for the “chosen one”. There’s no artistic merit on this path.
I hope the new Government would change it.
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do for distributing your film?
My film is a fiction horror/thriller story based on a gospel from Roman Catholic Church and Portuguese-spoken.
I‘ve been focusing on submitting to accredited independent festivals worldwide like the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
Passion for what I do.
What sorts of movies would you like to get involved if you had your choice?
Keep moving on making movies to theatrical and streaming release. Horror/Thriller movies with actors/crew from all over the world.
What are your filmmaking goals?
Making films for a larger audience to share my vision of each story with as many people as possible.
What is your next project?
I’m developing two feature films written by American screenwriters. One is “House of Santeria” with the actor, director, producer
and screenwriter Beau Yotty to be shot in English language about the Voodoo and Santeria. Another one is “Rio Urban Legend: Witch’s Moon” written by Joe Leone based on a famous legend of the Portuguese lady Barbara dos Prazeres, who moved to Rio from Portugal in 1779.
A kind of “Brazilian Horror Story”
GOOD LUCK Roberto
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