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Spotlight: An Interview with Marcelo Brou ("Whirlwind")



Marcelo, please tell us about your background, how did you become an actor and a producer, and what makes you passionate about storytelling and movie making? I began my career 30 years ago in theatre and then went on to television, doing soap operas and limited series on Rede Globo, Brazil’s biggest network and one of the biggest in the world. I decided to move on to production to expand my horizons, producing and starring in a couple of short films: Whirlwind and Carne de Carnaval (which translates to “Carnaval flesh”), which will come out soon. The ability to tell stories and live different lives is what keeps me going. I wouldn’t get to see and do all that I have if it weren’t for this career. Which actors/actresses do you look up to, and what do you like about their work? I really like Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep , Susan Sarandon , Gwyneth Paltrow and Adrien Brody — The Pianist is one of my favorite movies of all time.

Why and how did you decide to come on board the team of Whirlwind? I had a meeting with the screenwriter and quickly got involved with the project. I liked the idea of being alone out on the sea and not in a studio. It was almost love at first sight. The film talks about a solitary sailor who decides to explore solitude and reflect on love and affection at sea. It's a very inspiring film, and your performance was incredible- it felt very genuine and natural. How did you prepare for your role as Heleno? Do you have previous experience with sailing? Heleno made me sail in a 45 foot boat, I had experience sailing smaller boats and without cabins — still sailboats, but for one person only. He led me to an ocean-crossing boat. I didn’t have to prepare as much, I was already familiarized with that kind of environment. But I did have to prepare for acting without talking, since the voice-over was recorded later in a studio, and wasn’t directly correlated to the scenes. It was, in a way, both harder and easier.

How many days did it take to shoot the film? It only took us two days of shooting both offshore and closer to land, there was a small team of eight people hiding in the cabin so I was the only one on camera. It was a great experience. What do you like most about being on set? What I like most is exactly that, being on set, bringing that script to life. I believe every actor would have given life to Heleno differently than I did. If someone else had read the script, they would’ve each done it in a different way. Tell us about your collaboration with the director, Cavi Borges. What was it like? I didn’t know anyone on the team, the writer introduced me to the whole crew and we all got along really well. It was the first time I was ever directed by Cavi Borges, who’s known for his short and long films. We all liked and appreciated the sea and sailing and I think that’s what made everything work so well.

The film won Best Narrative Film - it's very well made, and it takes a lot of effort, talent, and a good team to make a film like this. In your opinion, what are the ingredients to creating a great film? In my opinion, when it comes to short films, a great film is able to touch hearts in a short amount of time. Alongside acting, you also served as a producer for Whirlwind. What were some of your responsibilities? Did you also work with the post-production team to make creative decisions about the editing, the music, etc? As a producer, I had all the responsibilities a short film, or any production, entails. Though, I did ask to put my side of production on a hold two days before shooting so I could focus on the actor. But I was also part of the post-production process: I worked with the editor — editing, choosing the music and soundtrack… — it was all done together. So much so, after shooting, the editor, the colorist and I changed some of the film: the first scene was originally the last scene. But that is something that can be done in a film without dialogue and isn’t completely linear. What was the biggest takeaway from this experience for you? I learned that love is just a sweet word and I had a taste of it out there on the sea.

What are you most proud of? I’m proud that we made this short film and that it reached people from all over the world. So my work as an actor and producer is seen and appreciated. The film is almost like a son to me. What was the most challenging part for you on this project? The most challenging part was fitting the voice-over with the scenes. I had to shoot the scenes without any lines, then separately record only my voice, putting all the intention and meaning on it, otherwise it would all be lost. What are you currently working on? I just shot a second short film, Carne de Carnaval, which is in the editing process and will be around sixteen minutes. It’s about a Carnaval director that falls in love with another character who isn’t Brazilian. And what do you hope to work on in the future? What would be your dream project? My dream project would be something international, maybe shoot somewhere in Europe, like England, but mostly somewhere with beaches — France, Italy, Croatia… — or the United States. I wanted to do it in another language, preferably English, since it’s the one I’m most comfortable with. Is there anything you'd like to add or anyone you wish to thank? I’d like to thank my nieces first — one of which worked with me on the other short film I mentioned —, who speak English very well and helped me with this interview so I could express myself as well as I could. Even though I speak English, it’s a different thing fully expressing yourself in written form. I would also like to thank Top Shorts for everything: this interview, the award and seeking out a Brazilian actor and new short film producer, I am incredibly grateful. And last, but not least, I’d like to thank my family for all the support and love.

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