"Jennifer’s Bodies is a roving annual festival of female-helmed horror movies and part of Women In Horror Recognition Month, an international assortment of affiliated events organised partly to highlight just how much women can and do contribute to the genre outwith the typically accepted factors of tits, ass and mezzosoprano screaming." Starburst Magazine

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Blast from the Past - An Interview with Jose Pedro Lopes and Ana Almeida - Director and Producer of Survivalismo!

Running Time -9'00''
Year of Completion - 2011
Location of Shooting - Oporto, Portugal
Directed by Jose Pedro Lopes

What inspired you to make this short in particular?

JOSÉ - The idea for 'Survivalismo' came up when Ana was presenting her new project, 'Videoclub', on a film pitch forum in Strasbourg, France. I was there watching the pitches and the reharsals, and I had an idea for a film where the main character had to talk his way out of a trap. I also had the idea for a twist ending in my mind that I directly applied to this concept. Developing the main character I thought it would be great to play around the concept that these modern 'torture horror' films are filled with violence, specially agaisnt women. So, in 'Survivalismo' you have absolutly no bloodshed, no violence, in a torture scenario. And all this psychological pain goes into a guy who reveals to have little consideration towards women.

Is this the first short that you have worked on and if not, what other work have you done before this?

ANA AND JOSE- We've have worked together in several shorts films, ever since the year 2001. 'A Noiva' (The Bride) was probably our most well-suceded work. It was in Jennifer's Bodies 2011, it was the european response to the slasher genre. It featured a cold, blueish photography and a mysterious female villain, in a tight horror short. We've worked together in other non-genre shorts such as 'Temperar a Gosto' (Season to Taste) and 'O Risco' (The Line).

What are you working on next?

ANA AND JOSE - We've three short films coming up. One is kind of a big mystery - it's called 'Auguste' and kind of like 'Survivalismo' has a character beginning the film in a unlikely predictament. But it goes into a totally different, original patch. The other one is called 'Patient EV-136' and it's a sci-fi horror film with a lot of action. It will be a lot of fun. And we've also have 'Videoclub' by Ana Almeida, which is a project that is very dear to me. It's a romantic drama set in 1999 and it's an anthem to the VHS generation.

(Pictured above - Jose Pedro Lopes)

Name one woman who you would just absolutely love to work with and why?!

JOSE - I really liked Noomi Rapace in the 'Millennium' trilogy. I think she makes an excelent actress in the Women in Horror concept. But there are a lot of talented women out there, both acting and directing. I'm dead curious about 'Klip' by Maja Milos.

If you could choose one person, living or dead, who would choose to work with on your ideal project?

JOSE - I love John Carpenter so I guess I would love to work with him - but honestly there are a lot of cool, kick-ass people working in film these days. Many of them unknown to the big public.

Are you going to be doing anything special to celebrate Women in Horror Month this year?

JOSE - I don't know! I would love to host here in Oporto an event in the WiH Month but I just couldn't find the time. Maybe in 2013, if the world doesn't end.

Random question – if you had to recommend one TV show that you think people just HAVE to watch, what would you recommend!?!

JOSE - I'm a bad person to ask that question. I try to spend all my time where I could be watching TV, watching films. I guess I don't respect too much the TV genre: it's the 'X-Files' factor (perfect excuse for random X Files pic!).  A series is destined to go too long until you hated it. It happened recently with 'Dexter' and 'Californication' - they're getting worse by the episode.

ANA - Right now, I love 'Fringe', 'Sherlock' and 'Game of Thrones'. Obsessing over each at the time.

What's your favourite film from the past year? (Doesn't have to be horror!)

JOSE - There were a lot of excelent films in 2011 - I can narrow them down to three classics. 'Drive' obviously is one of them. My favourite genre film was 'Attack the Block' - such as kick-ass brit film. But my top favourite was Alex de la Iglesias's 'Balada Triste de Trompeta' (The Last Circus): a intense, drama, trip to the roots of modern spain with a twisted love triangle - it is a true ride.

ANA - I loved 'Attack the Block' too and 'Beginners'. Ewan McGregor is my favourite scot... right after Jennifer Cooper! (*blushes*)

What I particularly loved about Survivalismo was the intensity of the short! How easy was it for you to convey such a growing intensity when at the end of the day, we see so little?

JOSE - We shot the whole film in just two days. The main actor, Ivo Bastos (pictured below), is a friend and has a very strong comedic vein. So, in spite of having a bag in his head, he was always making us laugh. But thruth be told, when his character breaks down and does the final confession, we were terrified. When we said cut and Ivo took off the bag, we were reliefed to see that he was OK.

Survivalismo conveys the 5 stages of guilt, was this something that has interested you before? I think it's a fascinating concept!

JOSE - That was Ana's idea. I had clear I wanted a character in trap where he could not see, and were he would just try to talk his way out even though he didn't know if someone was listening. I had the twist ending in mind. But I was having a hard time developing the story that happened between the setup and the ending. Ana came up with the 5 Stages of Grief as a way of exploring the more psychological side of a "SAW-like" trap.

ANA - I felt it was important to add a strong connection between the several moments we wanted to explore - and work this with the actor in a way that we could give the film the intensity its concept required.

Jose, you're a big of John Carpenter, have you seen The Ward and if so what are your thoughts on it? Personally I loved it!  

JOSE - 'The Ward' is like the film Carpenter did in the late 70s, right after 'Halloween'. It's so cool: I love the way the female characters are developed, the fact that it has such 70s style scenes like the one where they all dance, and the fact that its a frightenning film with the classical setup of a haunted place. But I hated the ending twist because it's the kind of revelation that says "well, what you just saw was just not that important".

Ana, who is one of your personal favourite directors and why?

ANA - I don't have one. :) Or I have too many. Right now, I'm really into Edward Wright's work. Looking forward to the third Cornetto film.

(Pictured above - Producer Ana Almeida)

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