INTERVIEW WITH MARLOM MEIRELLES
Last year Marlom's film "Button Eyes" won the Best Drama award. We talked with the director and found out how he managed to create a special relationship between his actors.
Marlom, last year your film touched the hearts of people everywhere. What did it feel like winning the Best Drama award at Top Shorts?
My short film “Button Eyes” was recorded in a very remote location in the Brazilian countryside, but its content speaks to people no matter where they're from. Winning "Best Drama" at Top Shorts showed me that even a local story can address universal themes. But it was a real surprise for me, because Top Shorts presents great films from all around the world!
How did you get the idea for the film? Was it based on a true story?
I was inspired by the folk legends that are very common in the state where I live in Brazil. These legends are at the crossroads of reality and fiction, with an interplay of both realistic and fantastic elements. I also got inspiration from the negative aspects of our culture. We live in a very traditional and conservative society that is really the opposite of the image people have when they watch the Brazilian Carnival. So, I wanted to show a side of Brazilian society that people don’t often see.
Why did you make the film? What message did you want to give?
I wanted to tell a story that could talk about some controversial feelings that we have. The paradox about being religious versus the lack of compassion for others, the thin line that separates love and hate…it’s all about the contradictions that we have as human beings. Jealousy, hope, anger, trust, communion… the film shows the ups and downs that relationships can have.
There is a special relationship between your three main actors. What was it like working with them?
The fact that the actors have different backgrounds was initially a concern for me, but it ended up being a very positive mix. Zezita Matos, the main actress of the film, is a versatile and talented actress. She has an impressive, successful 40-year career. All of that experience helped the other actors to feel confident and to bring their best to the screen. I did many rehearsals with the three of them, using alternative acting techniques. And I had them live in the house in which we recorded the scenes, because I wanted them to feel like they really belonged to that place. This way, they would sense and understand the location as a crucial element for constructing the characters of the film.
As an indie filmmaker, you must be dealing with many obstacles. How do you manage to make the film you want with a low budget?
It’s a great plus if, as a director, you are able to understand the logistics of production. I received funding from the national, state, and municipal governments, as well as from the private sector. At the same time, it’s important to keep one's feet on the ground, which leads to insights about creative, alternative ways to approach the film.
Can you think of three tips for indie filmmakers, based on your experience?
1. Work hard, because your success depends exclusively on that.
2. Have good connections with other filmmakers. Collaborations can help your project grow and take on new dimensions.
3. Tell an important story. So many filmmakers are doing the same thing as you. So the key point is, what makes your story truly special and unique? What are you trying to communicate?
So what’s next? Are you working on a new project?
A storyteller always has a new story to be told. Since 2010, when I founded my production company Eixo Audiovisual, I have worked on several different projects simultaneously. Right now I’m working as a director and producer on three projects: a short film about sexual identity, a TV series with 10 episodes, and also a feature film. In addition to that, I’m currently in the U.S. editing a feature documentary film entitled One Day We Arrived in Japan - it’s an intimate epic, spanning 10 years and 10,000 miles in the lives of three families of Brazilian migrants. You can learn more about that film at www.onedaywearrivedinjapan.com.
Watch the making of BUTTON EYES
Follow "Button Eyes" on Facebook
Eixo Audiovisual on Vimeo
BUTTON EYES is Top Shorts 2016 Special Screening, and will be available to watch online on May 7th, 2016 at www.topshorts.net