Portuguese-born director Tiago P. de Carvalho has directed projects in a variety of forms. He is best-known for having created a series of popular music videos and commercials. Since the success of these smaller projects, Tiago has since gone on to break into film. In 2014, his debut action movie titled “Nirvana” was released in Europe and the movie will be making its American debut at the Action On Film Festival in California in September 2015.
“Nirvana” is a mix of comedy and hardboiled noir; a crime thriller that injects humor into its characters and situations. In particular, one conversation where two thugs debate whether or not Disney’s cartoon characters Bambi and Thumper were ever intimate elicits much laughter. Recently, Tiago P. de Carvalho spoke with the Examiner about his experiences working as a director:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired you to become a director and why did you start writing, too?
Tiago P. de Carvalho (T.C.): I was a true “pop culture boy” since I was born and I still am! I would spend most of my free time watching TV, and the rest playing with GI Joes and Legos, speaking in an invented weird kind of English (in Portugal we don’t dub, we use subtitles) and as I grew up I always delighted in telling stories. So it was only a matter of time until I acknowledged that I should tell those stories in the form of drama. So, unfortunately, there was no big singular inspirational event or person; I was just born with it, or, grew myself on it.
M.M.: What are your favorite kinds of movies?
T.C.: Until I was about 16 it was adventure movies (I was hooked on Indiana Jones). Then I was into the general thriller genre; with a slight fetish for gangster thrillers.
M.M.: Growing up, what movies had the biggest impact on you? Why?
T.C.: “Indiana Jones” was one of the first movies that completely knocked me out of my feet. I was already hooked on movies but I probably was infected by movie-magic with that one. “Alien” also hooked me. It was the most incredible and mysterious movie I had ever seen at the time. I used to watch a lot of movies, mostly horror movies with my mother. She was a single mother so she used to watch them with me because she was afraid to watch them alone. The “Dead Poets Society” made me realize for the first time the impact that a movie can have in humanity and in an individual. I live by a certain perspective of life, in a big way, because of that movie. And all of these movies (and some others), I keep reviewing every year. Anything by Michael Mann I love too, he’s one of my favorite directors.
M.M.: How did you come up with the idea for “Nirvana?” Can you also explain a little bit about it?
T.C.: I wrote NIRVANA about 12 years ago. I was in my last year of high school and that script was my final asset. Ten years after I decided to produce my first feature and I thought NIRVANA was the easiest script to shoot (how wrong I was). It’s a gangster comedy that tells about vengeance and stupidity. It’s about a cowardly and useless gangster who gets kicked out of his gang and plans on getting back on his former boss. But as he gathers his own crew, he starts realizing how many others are plotting a similar revenge so he has to race them.
M.M.: If you could make any kind of film, with an unlimited budget, what type of movie would you make and why?
T.C.: If had unlimited budget I would of course make my most expensive one, because it would be the hardest to get investment (at least for now because I only have one feature to defend myself with), and also because I believe it’s one of my most beautiful stories. It’s a science fiction set in a distant future where the Earth is no longer habited by humans. And it is a beautiful story of the search for personal identity and the value of a human life; a mix between Space Odissey and Titan A.E with beautiful images in Carl Sagan adventure style – I should mention that I was supposed to go Aerospacial Engeneering before I discovered the Portuguese Film School.
M.M.: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the movie industry?
T.C.: I would have to say, watching my film getting theatrical release and distributed all around the country, with a great feedback from the audience asking me to make more. To feel you have touched the audience the way you planned, is remarkable.
M.M.: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
T.C.: I am doing some final tweeking on a thriller/horror movie set on a tropical island and I’ll be in L.A. at the AFM looking for investors. I have Leomark Studios representing “Nirvana” and helping me move forward with the next movie; they are an excellent team. This horror/thriller is spoken entirely in English. I’m also finishing writing a life drama, about a desperate unemployed boy that is obligated to guide a foreign rich girl that comes to live in his country, also spoken in english. Additionally, I have a documentary almost ready to go to the festival circuit called NIGHT BALL.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a director?
T.C.: Shoot a lot. Practice. I have done some shorts which are mostly exercises that I can’t practice on my music videos or commercials that I direct on a monthly basis. If I want to practice how to shoot a samurai fight scene, I’ll write one with a choreographer friend, and then shoot it–same thing with a car chase. So that when the moment comes, we are ready. We have to be ready for it at any time. If you want to be a writer/director, write about your own problems and conflicts, or of people who are intimate to you. That’s the only way you can relate to those conflicts and explore them the right way, so your script sounds genuine and strong. And it matters. Last advice is: never lose hope, but also never stop fighting for it.
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To learn more about Tiago P. de Carvalho visit his IMBD. To learn more about the film “Nirvana” see here.