A Conversation with a Promising Filmmaker, Felipe Ferreira Paraguassu, on the Art of Cinema


Please tell us about yourself. How did you get involved in filmmaking?

My name is Felipe Paraguassu, I’m 17 years old, I’m from Brazil and America and I got involved with filmmaking when I was about 12 maybe 11 years old and me and my best friend used to watch movies all the time and I eventually got interested in how they were made and that just sort of spiraled into me wanting to make my own movies and tell my own stories.


Did you attend film school or study film at university?

Actually I’m still in high school but I am applying to several film schools such as USC and NYU but no I haven’t been to film school. I have attended a few courses, a few summer camps but no legitimate real training so far.


What keeps you motivated despite the fact that filmmaking is a laborious job?

OK so what keeps me motivated despite the fact that filmmaking is a laborious job is just the reward is so great at the end that it’s worth all of the stress and all of the pain of making an actual movie. It’s like Stanley Kubrick once said, there’s few joys that parallel that of being able to make a movie and I think he’s right because when you finish a movie, like a real movie, and you feel like you’ve accomplished something, there’s not that many things that really beat that feeling and it’s that high that I think every filmmaker is chasing.



Do you think the role of a producer is vital?

This question is kind of a double edged sword because while I do believe that the role of the producer is vital, after all they’re the one that handles all of the business side of filmmaking and handles of the distribution and help make sure that film stays on budget, but they can also be the force that brings the movie to its knees and eventually obliterates the entire project as a whole. Filmmaking to me is about everyone working together and everybody making the same movie and everybody doing what they have to do on time on schedule on budget and if a producer is micromanaging everyone then they can’t do that in a creative and sustainable way.


How do you think the industry is changing?

I think the industry is becoming more international. I think it’s slowly moving away from Hollywood and I think it’s becoming more of a global player. I mean if Parasite can win best picture then that means big things for the foreign film market. Overall I think people are starting to see the forest for the trees and realize what filmmaking is, which is an art form, and people are starting to treat it that way especially with foreign Cinema which is very exciting for people like me because I love foreign Cinema and would love to see more people appreciate it


Who are your favorite filmmakers?

There’s a lot to pick from I mean there’s of course classic directors that everybody knows and everybody loves like Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese and there’s also modern directors that I love like Spike Jonze and Paul Thomas Anderson but I think the director the most inspired me really was Yasojiru Ozu just because he’s so honest and so true with the stories and so incredibly passionate with everything that he tells which is partially because of his Japanese upbringing but it’s also just his style there’s so many directors that I look up to because of their honesty and because of their brutal portrayal of real life like Elem Kilmov, Wim Wenders, or Andrei Tarkovsky.


How are children influenced by movies?

I think especially nowadays children are so incredibly influenced by film because you see children really haven’t adopted a personality quite yet especially if we’re talking about children under the age of like six so when they see a movie (I know I did this when I was young and I know a lot of people who did this when they were young) they sort of adopt the personality of people that they see on screen which is partially why the MPAA exists in the first place, to prevent children from adopting personalities that are dangerous but you see like kids watch superhero movies and then they think that they’re superheroes and it’s a beautiful thing really because that’s the power of movies. They can literally change the way people think for the better.



The script is the most important to make a film. Do you think all filmmakers focus on that?

Not to disrespect any filmmakers or anything but I can think of quite a few filmmakers that really don’t care about story and care more about just emotion which are two very different things. For example, JJ Abrams doesn’t really care all that much about if his story is cohesive or if it makes sense or if there are sensible arcs or if there are likable characters he cares more about the emotion behind what is happening which is its own kind of filmmaking which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it’s certainly different than what most filmmakers would do because most filmmakers do really focus on that, but not all filmmakers


What inspires you to work?

I think what inspires me to work is the possibility of changing how somebody views something in their world because that’s what film has done for me (at least good cinema), it changes how I see a certain aspect of my life like the movie Her changed how I see love the movie Eternal Sunshine changed how I see memory and if I can maybe change how somebody sees something in their life then that will be worth all of the work that went into making the movie.


Who’ve been your influences within the industry?

I think my three biggest influences that I know it’s in the industry are Jeffrey Weil, Jud Wilmont, and Nick Scott, three people that I met while working on a feature film called Black Whirlwind and to be completely honest they’re probably the only industry people that I know very well but still they inspired me to work, they inspired me to follow my passion, and I can’t thank them enough for that they really was quite a big help when I was still green and new to the industry


If you had an unlimited budget at your disposal, what would your dream production project be?

If I had an unlimited budget at my disposal I would make this is dystopian Lynchian horror drama that I thought above when I was like 15 or 14 about my experience in high school told through this very surrealist lens. I came up with this idea when I was so young and I always loved it and I really wanted to make it but I don’t think it would sell to anyone and I don’t think that it would turn out all that great anyway because it’s a story that I came up with and I was like 15 but either way it feels so honest to me and it feels so true to what my experiences in life were that I still really want to make it.


What are you most proud of in your professional experience?

I think what I’m most proud of in my professional experience is just the people that I have brought together to make a movie because that really is to me the hardest part is finding people who are interested which will hopefully change when I graduate college and go on to be an actual professional but for now finding people who want to work and who are willing to put in the actual effort to make a good movie are very hard to find so I’m pretty proud that I was able to amass team of almost 40 people to make Kodachrome and Everywhere, Anywhere possible


Do you think directing a film is the toughest job while making a movie?

I personally don’t think that directing is the hardest part in making a movie I think the hardest job is either producer, editor, or script supervisor just because those jobs are very very tedious. With the director, sure there’s a lot of work to be done but all of it is fairly entertaining and all of it can be done with a pretty chipper smile on your face but with editing and especially with producing and especially especially with script supervisors there’s just no room for failure with a job that’s already tedious to begin with.


What advice would you like to give to aspiring filmmakers?

I think the biggest advice that I would give to an aspiring filmmaker is just to do it because 90% of people will find an excuse not to do it. Just go out to make a movie. I think what’s keeping so many people from making good cinema is just that they’re finding reasons not to


What are the films you admire – that you have found to be profound? What films have moved you in an entertaining way?

I can think of a few movies that have really inspired me off the top of my head a lot of them are by artists that I really really admire. one that really inspired me was Her by Spike Jonze, Hiroshima Mon Amour by Alan Resnais, Good Morning by Yasojiru Ozu, Tampopo by Juzo Itami, Bicycle Thieves by Victoria De Sica, Autumn Sonata by Ingmar Bergman, and Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman. There’s a lot of movies out there that are just so beautiful and just so incredibly powerful with every single thing that they try to accomplish.


What projects are you working on next?

My next project that I’m working on is about a group of women filmmakers who try to make a film with a microbudget but must face off against their psychotic key grip, and I’m also working on a TV pilot but for now my biggest focus is getting into film school