by Vitor Pinto
- João Matos has worked as a producer since 2002. He is now in pre-production of Jorge Silva Melo's musical The Nothing Factory, scheduled to shoot in 2014
João Matos has worked as a producer since 2002, collaborating with directors such as Susana Nobre, João Vladimiro and Leonor Noivo, and companies like Clap Filmes, where he worked, among other projects, on the preparation of Raoul Ruiz’s praised film Mysteries of Lisbon. Other titles on his credits include the interesting documentary Red Line by José Filipe Costa, Berlinale 2013 entry The End of the World by Pedro Pinho and IndieLisboa double-winner Lacrau by João Vladimiro. João is now in pre-production of Jorge Silva Melo's musical The Nothing Factory, scheduled to shoot in 2014.
Cineuropa: From Sociology to audio-visual production, how have you evolved professionally until you created Terratreme Filmes?
João Matos: I started as a producer on a film called O Que Pode um Rosto by Susana Nobre. It was a Terratreme production, except that back then the company was still called Raiva. Then I produced other films, including Susana Nobre’s Estados da Matéria and Joana Ascensão’s Pintura Habitada. The transition from sociology to production was a natural evolution as I went on working for several different production outfits such as Artistas Unidos, Âmbar, Clap and David & Golias among others. In 2009, I established myself as a producer at Terratreme Filmes – we have developed projects with directors Luís Miguel Correia, Leonor Noivo, Susana Nobre, José Filipe Costa, Tiago Hespanha, Pedro Pinho, João Vladimiro, Luísa Homem, João Nicolau, André Godinho, Nathalie Mansoux, Marília Rocha, Salomé Lamas and Francisco Moreira, among others.
You managed the production of several films including the award-winning Mysteries of Lisbon. How did you find the experience of working with late director Raoul Ruiz?
My collaboration on Mysteries of Lisbon was limited to the preparation of the first weeks of the shoot; then I worked in other films produced by Clap Filmes. Although brief, it was a great experience as Raoul Ruiz was a very experienced director. I have learned a lot from him.
João Vladimiro’s Lacrau has just won two prizes at the IndieLisboa festival. What can you tell us about this film?
Lacrau is a very peculiar film, both in terms of its aesthetic and cinematic choices. It took a long time to prepare, shoot and edit, and I guess the audiences can feel that. Along with other titles, Lacrau is one of Terratreme’s biggest ‘jokers’ for this year – we believe that it will soon begin an interesting international career.
How do you see your role as a producer? How do you interact with the directors?
Producing is much more than simply making available a minimum set of conditions so that the director can develop his film project. It requires personal involvement: you have to make the project your own. You have to think about it and embrace it, and you need to accept all the consequences of making a film. You constantly need to be in discussion with the director. You may not always agree, but you always need to keep in mind what you want to do and what you can do. You should take short-, mid- and long-term decisions that will result in the best possible film.
Is there a film genre you are more keen to produce?
Not really. In Terratreme, we are very keen on the idea of making all sorts of films. What makes films stand out is not really their genre or length but the vision and the thoughts that can be imprinted in them.
Among the films you are now working on there is Jorge Silva Melo’s The Nothing Factory.
It is a musical. It is a very old project I have with Jorge Silva Melo. We are very glad we are going ahead with it because the idea of making a musical has vanished from Portugal’s film industry years ago…
What is the biggest challenge and the biggest fear an independent producer from Portugal is currently facing, given the catastrophic financial situation of the country?
Fundamentally, not being sure if several formal commitments will be respected or not. Throughout the years, Portuguese cinema has done more to promote the country than certain little ideas aiming at exporting ‘elites’. The state must have the obligation to support the creation of arts and cultural heritage. The idea of a ‘funding-addicted’ sector, so often evoked, shows the lack of knowledge about what we are actually doing – producing culture, heritage and history.
What projects are you taking to Cannes that may catch the eye of the other ‘producers on the move’?
We have some projects to work on during Cannes, but the most important thing is to grab this event as an opportunity to recognize different cinemas and to establish work connections, which might be developed later on. So we will carefully assess whatever might be interesting to develop – both our projects and projects from potential partners.
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