DarkVeins had the opportunity to interview Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro, the brazilian writer, producer and director who produced “Boundaries of Thought”, a documentary feature series, and the five episodes of the online series “Think Thank” starring David Lynch. Beyond the Grave (Portos dos Mortos) is his first feature film which combines horror, road movie, action, magic and spaghetti western.
Written and directed by Davi de Oliveira Pinheiro (who co-produced with Isidoro B. Guggiana), and produced by Lockheart Filmes Ltda, Beyond the Grave won 13 awards including Best Horror Feature Award at the Arizona Underground Film Festival and Audience Choice Award for Best Latin American Feature at Montevideo Fantástico (Uruguay).
L: Hello Davi, tell us something about you.
D: I was just thinking about me when I received this interview. Of all things to think! Reading into that I must be self-absorbed, but I was observing what kind of work attracts me right now, and how sci-fi romances are my thing for the moment. I guess I’m kind of an insane romantic as of 2014.
L: How did you get into filmmaking?
D: From my childhood on I thought about being a filmmaker. I met a friend from Elementary School a few months back and he remembered me that when I was a child I said I’d become one of two things: a filmmaker or the President of Brazil. So, I got into filmmaking by default: I didn’t want to get into politics because I don’t have stomach for the dominant corruption.
L: You recently directed two short movies. Can you talk about them?
D: Well, my two most recent short films are The Soul Detective and The Perfect Kiss. They’ve a curious production story. The Perfect Kiss was shot three years before Beyond the Grave and The Soul Detective was shot a few months and released exactly one year after the production of the feature. I love to experiment when doing short films, trying not to do the obvious thing; I believe the risk of not succeeding is something that keeps things interesting.
The Perfect Kiss was about creating a short almost without images — with a blazing impact — that begins and ends before the audience is even aware of what it is. It’s got a very short duration and it rips through without being noticed as a narrative by many. It’s risky and alienates 90% of the audience, but I love it.
The Soul Detective is another film that I gave on to experimentation. It’s about cinema and its possibilities. The sets, movements, the dialogue, the photography and production design are not intellectually thought out. It’s all about my experience and interaction with actors, the space around us, my feeling on what cinema could be. It’s a true portrait of who I was during the long post-production of Beyond the Grave and is one of my favorite things ever.
D: Well. Everything I lived, everything I felt in between being born, discovering the arts and finishing the film in my 32th anniversary. It’s kind of a mission statement through recollection. I don’t think I’ve anything similar to Beyond the Grave in my mind right now. It was really I as a cinéphile at the height of my inexperience and innocent, something I can never regain. More than being classified as good or bad film, I think it shows a very clear point of view, it captures a moment of my life, a way of thinking that could only come from me and my crew at that moment in time. There are several references, of course, quotes and details and even lines from other films, but the most important thing is the film came from the people who made it, the incredible crew and cast who breathed life into it.
L: You’re the producer, writer, director and executive music producer of the movie. What was most challenging for you?
D: Producer, no doubt about it, since it was a self-financed venture (50% mine, 50% by Isidoro B. Guggiana) and it gave in to self-pressure and an excessive sense of responsibility. In some cases, being a producer was more important than writing and directing the film. It allowed me to use my resources carefully and with respect for the financiers.
L: Rafael Tombini toplines the cast of Porto dos Mortos. He’s an officer obsessed with hunting the Dark Rider and who has an affinity for the occult. Can you talk about this driving character? Was it difficult for him to play this role?
D: Rafael can do anything. He is an incredible actor, in route to being a star. If it was difficult, he didn’t show it. He was honest, immersed in a character that was a great question mark to others, but that he fully understood and nurtured.
It was a process that began after a short film that I wrote called Tea Time. I met Rafael there and offered him the part of the Officer. He thought I was crazy at the time, he said me later, during the set. During production of “Beyond the Grave“, he discovered it was true.
It was a very easy relationship. We found that we listened and communicated very easily with each other. Rafael felt that he understood the world I was trying to build, and I felt I understood what he needed as an actor. And when our communications failed, we were both very honest and just said so. That made for some great moments, some full of humor, some full of dense characterization. We’ve a great rapport and we are still looking for a project that feels right so we can work together again.
L: Is there a possibility of a sequel?
D: The world of Beyond the Grave is open to a very esoteric kind of sequel, that I’ve plans to make somewhere in the future. If the first film is about revenge, I want the second one to be about pardoning someone, a more difficult and humane quest.
L: What are you currently working on? What are your future plans?
D: As a director, I’m working in the editing of the sci-fi And All That Could Have Been, the most difficult film I’ve ever done. It’s about the end of the world and how it affects the memories of a man in his last seconds of life. It was selected recently for the Berlinale Talents Editing Studio and I was really transformed by the experience. During Berlin, we shot another short film, a very small romance drama called Another Empty Space. So, like I said before, I’m showing a more tender side of mine, trying to find a connection with other human beings through my films.
On the series side of thing, I’m editing a pilot called Jack Hammer, an action-comedy created by actor Felipe Monaco.
In features, I’m leaning towards sci-fi with the development of the cosmic romance By the Sea and the anthology The End of History.
L: What’s your favorite movie genre? What’s your favorite horror movies of all time and why?
D: I don’t have favorite movie genres. To me they all mix and blend to create a really beautiful mosaic of humanity.
In horror, I’ve preference for films like The Beyond, Dellamorte Dellamore, The Exorcist, Kwaidan, Prince of Darkness, the Phantasm series among several others. Those are films that have played with my imagination and emotions.
The Beyond is a journey of pure insanity without any logical explanation that keeps horror as dread throughout.
Dellamorte, Dellamore is horror as a place of exploration of philosophy and a reflection on humanity.
The Exorcist is about the greatest fear of all: the fear of losing someone you love without doing all you could for them.
Kwaidan is one of the most beautiful films ever done, even if what it deals with is the stuff of nightmares.
Prince of Darkness is theme, tone and photography at the service of escalating tension.
The Phantasm series is horror as an ever growing mythology.
They’re fated to change every day as favorites. There is so much to remember in the genre, and all the films to be seen in the future.
L: What are your cinematic influences?
D: Right now, everyone who has a recognizable voice, be it Fellini, Bava, Tarkovsky, Zulawski, Miike, Hellmann, Coppola, Carpenter, Leone, Oz, Ford, Lang, Rivette, Ozu, Sganzerla, Rocha, Almeida Prado, Resnais, Soavi, Wheatley, Jodorowsky, Demme, Kluge, Côte, Martel, Hu, Öphuls, Bergman, Minnelli, Russel, Suzuki, Brakhage, Leigh, Cassavetes, Ray and all the infinite stars of cinema. I find that I don’t want to do films similar to what those guys did. I just want to be as truthful to myself as they were.
L: Anything you wanna say to all the DarkVeins readers?
D: Don’t go with the pack; try to stand alone by your own thinking before having a group. It’s extremely important to be yourself and you only exist now, in this place in time.
L: Thanks so much and best of luck!