Interview with Filmmaker Maria Lagemann (PEOPLE)

PEOPLE, 9min., Brazil
Directed by Maria Lagemann
“People” tells two parallel stories. On a Sunday afternoon in Madrid, two young women have big decisions to make. While one tries to work up the courage to propose to her partner, the other keeps a secret that makes her question everything. This is a story of humor and love, with a pinch of chaos, as it portrays the dynamics of a group of friends in their twenties.

Get to know the filmmaker:

What motivated you to make this film?

Well, I always liked writing funny stories, from a female perspective, that take place in common and usual circumstances. For me there is something beautiful and inspiring in the simplicity of day to day life. Also, I believe that it is when we least expect, in the small moments, that life really changes. Therefore, my motivation was to tell a story that could portray this type of situation and focus on relationships and their complexities. To show that we have no control over everything and this is also part of living, even more so when you are twenty something years old. I was motivated to do something universal and funny, but at the same time personal. To achieve that, I was inspired by my lifelong friends in real life to create the characters and the dialogues.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

From the first draft of the script to editing, it took approximately 10 months.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

Chaotic and funny!

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Probably filming long shots, without cuts. They all have a lot of dialogue, and it was all shot with the camera on the shoulder, in a small location. It was really important for me to capture the dynamics of the characters in a more natural and realistic way, so that’s why I opted for sequential shots.

We filmed the short in two days and we didn’t have many hours of recording each day, so everything needed to be very tight. There were many rehearsals with the cast to find the perfect tone and rhythm for the scenes and the ideal chemistry between them, so everything, ironically, could seem natural. I also had an intense and amazing work with the DOP, Marta, so that all camera movements were synchronized with the actions of the characters and the dramatic density of each situation they were experiencing.

In addition, it was the first short film I directed and I was doing that in Spain, a foreign country to me. My native language is Portuguese, so during the whole process I had to immerse myself in the Spanish culture, to really understand how everyone expressed themselves on a daily basis, to bring that truth to the dialogues and to be able to communicate well as a director with the whole crew. From start to finish, the process was a huge learning experience and It’s been a pleasure to see what we achieved. I feel really lucky to have worked with such a wonderful cast and crew.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Grateful and honored. I really appreciate that people watched the short and brought their perceptions. It was a joy to hear such positive feedback – especially when someone would talk about a specific and subtle detail they liked in the scenes. They understood the film, they laughed and that’s really nice. Besides that, I was certain that the dedication of the whole crew and cast to create a joyful yet chaotic story had been successful. That’s a great feeling.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

At a very young age. My parents work with cinema and audiovisual, so I was lucky enough to be raised around that.

For as long as I remember, I used to go to the cinema with my father – it was kind of a Sunday tradition for us. And back then, very early on, I fell in love with movies and the whole universe behind them.

When I was 7, I started taking acting classes to learn more about the process. Those really small theater plays soon showed me that I wanted to tell stories and direct those actors. Later, when I turned 14, I started writing my own comedy sketches, which over the years became screenplays.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Well, that’s a tough question… I would probably say “Modern Times”. I have watched that movie a lot of times throughout the years.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

To be honest, I feel like the festival is amazing. I really don’t know what other elements it could have. I’m super happy to be a part of it, as it is.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It’s super efficient and easy to use. A perfect platform to search out different festivals.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Pasta with a really good tomato sauce.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m currently writing my next project, the pilot for a new comedy-drama series, set in Rio de Janeiro. It focuses on female friendship while tells a story of four young women on their journeys of self-discovery and growth.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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