|Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro|
In a recent reporting of the Brazilian zombie movie PORTO DOS MORTOS (Beyond the Grave), I described a film that combined both the edgy and stylish film usually afforded a big budget film with big Hollywood names attached.
This film was created by, among many others, Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro, who wrote, produced, executive produced the music, and of course directed. I absolutely loved it. It has classic written all over it!
Rafael Tombini is the kick-ass and take no names hard nosed cop in PORTO DOS MORTOS, the driving character in the movie-- non-flinching, serious, with a dark secret inside. Brandishing a Samurai sword, brooding and anguished, Tombini channels Clint Eastwood and Chow Jun Fat, but never strays into caricature.
I had the privilege of interviewing both of the these movie makers (Director and Lead Actor), for our Blog of the Living Dead fans, here is that interview...
QUESTIONS TO DAVI & RAFAEL...
I see this film took a few years to finally hit the big screens. Can you tell me about that adventure/frustration/anxiety/happiness?
It was not supposed to be made if not by the will of the artists who worked on it. That it is finished; doing well in the festival circuit and being appreciated by a special group of individuals is in itself an achievement that I’m very proud of. It was a technical and emotional exhausting process, but I believe this long gestation was necessary for it to be as truthful as it is.
The adventure is in the making. The frustration is in not achieving everything we hoped for. The anxiety was to show it to an audience as soon as possible. Happiness? To make a film is happiness.
You produced, wrote, executive Music produced, and directed the film. That's alot of blood, sweat and tears. What was most challenging? Why?
I think the greatest challenge is always in the producing side of things, particularly in a self-financed endeavor like “Beyond the Grave”. It takes a lot of energy of the writing and directing process. To make decisions about the financial side of things at all times, even counting with Isidoro as a producer, is always tiring. Thankfully, I felt very comfortable in the directing and writing shoes, so I could make production decisions knowing that I would never sacrifice the kind of film I wanted to make. It was not difficult to handle, but I must admit sometimes I thought more as a producer than a creative, because of a sense of responsibility to the crew.
It appears then, that you are very hands on. Some people would say that this helps to create a cohesive movie experience (playing all these roles), some others may say that you may not be allowing for the creativity in the entire team to find its way into the film. What do you think?
I’m very collaborative. I never thought myself as hands on director until you brought it up. Maybe I am. It’s hard to say.
I like to deliberate tasks, to bring forth the creativity of others in the picture. I’m aware that as a human being, my views are very limited and although some may seem complex they form an abridged version of a vast multitude of realities that are around us. I try to bring other points of views into the work, through the craft of other artists, so the world of the film can be plural and real, even more so because we’re talking about fantasy, sci-fi and horror. Of course, I’m well aware of selection, that not every idea belongs in the picture, but I try to listen to all ideas in a film set, it doesn’t matter the origin.
I need plot because I’m dealing with genre, but the more films I make the more I feel that the methods that I like to use have more to do with the work ethic of filmmakers like John Cassavetes and Mike Leigh than with more visually pragmatic directors (that I love and that inspire me) like Brian De Palma, Dario Argento or Fritz Lang. I always leave to the film the liberty to say what it wants to be instead of imposing what I wish it was when I started. It may as well say in the credits that Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro was written by “Beyond the Grave”. It makes filmmaking an adventurous journey of discovery.
What did you enjoy the most (producer, writer, executive Music producer, Directed)? Why?
Although I think I have a long way until I am really good at it, directing is what I enjoy the most. It may sound pretentious, but I feel directing is my call. The other activities are very dear to me, but they’re consequences of my desire to direct. To me there is nothing more special than world building, than trying to find the truth in the material through the work with the crew and the cast. It’s a very reflexive kind of work that always transforms, that always reveals something new about the world.
I love producing, I love writing and I adored the chance to bring to light the first recordings of the very talented Felipe Longhi and the incredible musicians he brought together to make the songs and themes of the film, but to direct for me is to feel truly alive and fully capable of expressing my thoughts on the human condition.
You co-produced the film with Isidoro B. Guggiana, and Executive Producer Glauco Urbim. Have you guys collaborated before?
I worked with Glauco when he was a location scout in a short film I wrote (“Tea Time”) and on a series I co-created. He is the business partner of Marcelo Allgayer, who is always my first choice as a film editor. After I shot the teaser trailer for the project, Marcelo contacted me saying Glauco was interested in being a part of “Beyond the Grave”.
Isidoro B. Guggiana before being a film producer is my best friend. He has been a part of my films as a publicist and sometimes actor since the beginning. In this timeline, “Beyond the Grave” exists because Isidoro said “Let’s go for it”. I was searching for funding, trying to do the film by ordinary means. It was Isidoro’s invite to co-fund the film that made it happen.
How was your working relationship?
With Glauco it was a very professional and functional collaboration. He is a dedicated production manager. He establishes a set that moves, maintaining pace, but accommodating creativity. He is very observant of human behavior. He knows people and how to handle egos and personalities. Glauco is a true politician and people’s person. A personality trait a producer on set needs.
The working relationship with Isidoro is something else. It’s great to work with friends, even more with someone who is the brother I never had. The thing is Isidoro informed a lot of what was going on the film. He’s a very creative producer, observant and demanding. He got really high standards in filmmaking and when I thought I was doing less than necessary, I just need to look to Isidoro to know it was true. Like I said before he is one of the great responsible parts for the existence of “Beyond the Grave” and for its quality.
I noticed Isidoro had an acting part. Did you do any cameo?
I did and used the John Milius technique for director’s cameos: I cut it out. It was just plain bad. It was “lizard in a stick” bad.
I enjoyed the look and feel of the film very much. How much of that was you and how much was the DOP (Director of Photography) Melissandro Bittencourt?
The starting point was my visual concept of the feature as a whole. The idea of a daylight based horror that Melissandro and the production designer Carmem Fernandes brought to the forefront. The result was a combination of the talents of both that worked together to bring scope to the world around the characters. Melissandro proposed some very cool shots, like the one under the surgery table, with the dolly, designed the whole lightning of the film, and Carmem was always the compass for what was believable and atmospheric in the universe of “Beyond the Grave”.
During the creation of the film (from writing to photography)-- when did the Samurai sword get added to Rafael's character (or was this planned from the beginning?)
It was in the screenplay as a counterpoint to the size of Rafael. He is a man of built. The samurai sword is small near to him and I chose to use it to bring the feeling that the characters are dealing with a world that they don’t control. He doesn’t have the traditional big samurai sword to look cool. He is making do with his own limitations.
Anything you're working on now?
I’m working on two short films. One is a micro-short about quick violence and its consequences. It’s called “The Perfect Kiss”. The other one is a sci-fi that I believe expands on the themes of “The Soul Detective” and “Beyond the Grave”. It’s about the moment of the apocalypse and the repercussions on the mind of a man.
There’s also a series pilot I’m directing created by actor Felipe Monaco that is very different from everything I’ve ever done and I’m very happy with the results.
What is your favorite movie genre? What are your views on Horror/Zombie movies?
I don’t have a favorite movie genre. I’m in love with film and all the possibilities it can bring. Be it the most realist expression or a journey into the fantastic, I believe in endless possibilities, in a freedom of choices that can be limited by definitions of genre. I try to imprint that personal philosophy in my films.
Horror is a genre that can speak freely about everything. Is one of the great genres available and it scope is infinite. I’m very proud of working a different style from what is expect, in the horror pool, but keeping my roots on it. I am not bound to genres, but I sure love the ones that use fantasy and explore our dark places.
Zombie Horror is a genre that is being wasted because people think about the primary characteristics but don’t go further with it. Zombie films can be superficial and deep explorations of philosophical, social and scientific themes, but there is a zombie culture that is focused on the plasticity of it more than thematic liberties that can be taken. If used correctly the undead can be a powerful metaphor of expression of personal or universal points-of-views.
Is the world going to end in a Zombie Apocalypse?
I believe it has already ended and they’re devouring us without notice. They’ve devoured politics, culture, leisure, pleasure, philosophy, history and they’re little by little devouring humanity. The Zombie Apocalypse is upon us, and we’re sacrificial lambs, just waiting patiently to become one of the undead. On that happy note… Fade out....
|Rafael Tombini in "Beyond the Grave"|
I enjoyed your character as a hard-nosed, intense police officer. Did you have any particular actors/characters in mind for inspiration, in becoming this vengeful/tough cop.
One great inspiration is the character Max Rockatansky, brought to life by Mel Gibson in “Mad Max”. I saw the movie many times in the past and even last month. I find it still amazing after almost three decades and also for a low budget film that was supposed to be pure exploitation. I can’t forget to mention Gene Hackman playing Jimmy Doyle in “The French Connection” and one of my favorites: Clint Eastwood in Leone's films.
Do you have any martial arts background?
I practiced judo for over three years when I was seven, nine year kid, and later I became a surfer and skateboarder. I think many of my movements come from that. The notion of balance and equilibrium is pretty similar.
I understand that Samurai swords are not nearly as easy to use as they look. Tell me how you became proficient using one in the film?
It was the first time I ever used a samurai sword. We had in our crew a guy named Kapel Furman, from Sao Paulo, specialist in special effects. He trained me one afternoon on some of the different ways to use that killing machine!
Where did you study acting, and how would you describe your acting style (Method, Stanislavski, Brecht, Artaud, Meisner, or other)?
I've been studying for over ten years, with a degree in one of the most important acting schools in Brazil. I spent three years there and much more in different schools and theater companies. I believe that practicing in a film set gave me experience for my roles. So far I filmed more than fifty works, including shorts and television series, like “Sapore d' Italia”, a five chapters to television we had more than thirty days shooting in Italy last year. I always loved Stanislavsky and still do!
How was it working with Davi?
Amazing. When he first told about this movie, many years ago, I must confess I thought he was a little bit crazy (I still believe he is) and many years later we began having our meetings to talk about the project. I felt enchanted about the genre, not so usual in Brazil, and from that point we have a long term relationship. I think Davi is a great director, knows exactly what he wants and has special touch in directing the actor in a scene. The most important for me, he takes advices, new ideas, different ways to act in such a moment and so. He is an open minded guy and very calm, gives you the confidence to go for it.
What is your favorite movie genre? What are your views on Horror/Zombie movies?
I prefer war movies and documentaries about the Second Great War and Vietnam. I have a vast collection of war docs I bought from around the world. Talking on horror/zombie I'm a George A. Romero fan.
Is the world going to end in a Zombie Apocalypse?
If that shit happens I'll be ready to fuck'em up!
Read our review of this movie HERE!