Director Barbara Toschi talks Puzzle, Crowdfunding and the Brazilian Film Industry

Q: You are currently in post-production for your directorial debut – a short film called Puzzle. Can you tell us about the story?

A: YES, Puzzle is the story about Alice who is going through a hard time in her life and decides to see a psychologist Miriam – only to discover that Miriam may not be what she is expecting.

Puzzle is a drama/thriller that explores human nature, emotional complexities and how we deal with situations that cross our paths in life.

Q: How did you find your first experience directing? I am sure it has been a steep learning curve. Can you possibly tell us what you enjoyed and what you found most challenging?

A: IT was extremely exciting. What I love most is being on set – obviously – as it was also something I was already familiar with. On the other hand, post production is a whole new world for me. It is a challenge but also amazing to see things coming together – and the guys who are working with me in post-production are awesome so it has been fun.

Q: The film was funded through Indiegogo. How did the project come about and how important is crowd funding to an up-and-coming filmmaker like yourself?

A: TO be honest, when you first think about crowdfunding you get that feeling of how much money will come. It is also quite scary as it is the first time you are ‘trying’ your idea, your arguments. But the whole crowdfunding experience helped me to understand every single detail of the film. Who the audience is, why I am making this and what do I want to achieve. So I am pretty sure that going through the crowdfunding helped me to be more prepared when I came to direct.

Q: You have learned the trade as a production assistant and assistant director on numerous films. How important were these experiences?

A: I CANNOT even describe how important it is. I would say that if someone wants to direct, the best thing would be being on a film set before – just to see how it works, to understand at least the basics. It will help avoid a lot of common mistakes and will make you more familiar with it. I think a film set can be quite scary for someone who is not used to it.

Q: You were born in Brazil and moved to England to study at Brighton Film school. What made you choose the UK and how did you find the transition of living and working in a different country?

A: Before I decided where to go I was doing a lot of research about the film industry around the world. That is when I learnt England had a lot to offer.

The transition is hard – I am not going to lie [laughs]. Finding a different culture, adapting yourself, using another language, it is all challenging. But it has been an absolutely amazing experience

I am learning so much about myself and meeting so many interesting people. I love London and the mix of cultures you find here. I love seeing people that are different to me.

Barbara Toschi (left) on the set of Puzzle

Q: Speaking of your Brazilian roots, what are your views on the Brazilian film industry? We have enjoyed recent films such as The Second Mother, The Way He Looks and City of God.

A: ELITE Squad and A Dog’s Will are also two great Brazilian films – go for it. I believe the Brazilian cinema has a lot to offer, but the country needs to start investing and encouraging it more. It needs to understand that films are entertainment, but are also businesses that can offer jobs, learning experiences and help the economy.

The big thing in Brazil now are soap operas, but they are mostly from big companies/production companies so it is time to open space for independent projects as well.

Q: What directors do you aspire to and why?

A: HMMM, I am eclectic. My favourites I would say are Alfred Hitchcock and Martin Scorsese – they are the ones I relate most to. I like the way they portray human beings and their complexities.

Q: If you could work with any actors in the world, who would you choose and why?

A: Actor Leonardo DiCaprio. Actresses Helena Bonham Carter and Melissa McCarthy. I am fascinated with the versatility of Leo and Helena. As for Melissa, whatever she does she kills it.

Q: There is an appalling lack of female voices behind the camera. Do you see yourself as part of a changing – and more diverse – industry?

A: ABSOLUTELY – this is what drives me most. I am able to speak for a group that has been oppressed for so long.

Not having enough women – representatives – in this industry affects many things: the stories, the way we portray women, stereotypes and even how we construct society.

Films are communication tools, influencers, so it is hugely important to have people to stand for minorities.

Q: Looking to the future, what are your ambitions and what kind of stories are you interested in telling?

A: MY ambitions – I do not know yet, I want to push as far as I can. I like to make stories that entertain but are critical, forcing viewers to think.


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