‘Couple’ dir. Thales Banzai

A couple wakes up at home on a rainy day. Throughout the morning they avoid each other in their everyday actions, yet they sit at a table for breakfast and reflect on the real situation in which they find themselves.

Writer-Director: Thales Banzai
Producers: Egisto Betti, Heitor Dhalia, Tatiana Quintella
DOP: William Sossai
Editor: Thales Banzai
Key Cast: Julia Ianina, Geraldo Rodrigues

C8: Where did the idea for ‘Couple’ come from? Why did you want to tell this story?

TB: The idea came from my observation of various loving relationships, which although they involve very different people, they all had this “emptiness” element in common. And analysing it more deeply, it felt like most people follow the bitter way when trying to engage with one another. Instead of pursuing their personal objectives, searching for a better self-knowledge, and letting “fate” or time decide whether or not and with whom they’ll relate, they insist on searching for this ideal loving relation.

C8: Did you write the film as well? Did you have a script or was it improvised?

TB: Yes, I did write a very short script for the film, like four pages long. But it had all the description and actions that are in the film.

C8: The dialogue in ‘Couple’ is very sparse. Was this your intention to begin with?

TB: Yes. Based on the philosophic idea that only dialogue can make things evolve and get better, I had the intention to portrait the exact opposite with this couple. They may say things, but they do not talk to each other, until the moment it gets very unpleasant at the breakfast table.

C8: How did you cast the film? What were you looking for in the couple?

TB: I knew they must have this expressive face, and the ability to tell a lot with very little, because the film does not demand “big” performances. I think it was more of how delicate you can be and how much your eyes can tell.

I worked with a casting agent but the final actors that I choose, Geraldo and Julia, were both from close friends indication.

C8: Achieving the chemistry of the couple must have been key. Did you rehearse with the actors at all to realise this?

TB: We did not have a proper rehearsal. We talked a little about the roles and mainly the mood of the couple. And I discovered after casting that they already had worked together on a role of a couple before, so it also helped.

C8: What was the biggest obstacle for you during the shoot?

TB: Probably the schedule. We shot the entire film in one day, about 33 scenes, so we had absolutely no time for fooling around. We got prepared by doing a good pre-production and I also drew a reference storyboard to let no space for doubts.

C8: How would you describe the current state of the Brazilian film industry?

TB: Actually there is no industry in this exact sense. In 2013, only 127 Brazilian feature films premiered at the cinemas. With the exception of major commercial productions, the official number of moviegoers to these pictures is less than 100,000 people, which is very little and disproportionate to a country that has over 200 million population. In comparison to countries with similar size, Brazil should be producing at least four times more features.

C8: If you had the opportunity what would you change about the Brazilian film industry?

TB: We should try to create the Industry. First by producing and distributing films in other ways than the classic one financed 100% by the Government. The Government don’t want films produced. They just give out some money to try to keep filmmakers happy but it’s not a serious program.

And another problem that Government Financing brings is that you don’t have to payback the film investors, so we got lots of mediocre pictures produced.

C8: You’ve set up a production company, Banzai Studio, with your friends. Tell us about the type of work that you create.

TB: Banzai Studio is formed by me, Fernando Nogari, Luan Banzai, and Rimon Guimarães.

We started by doing short films when we were like ten years old, with a VHS camera from my father. In 2006, we started the Studio for real in Curitiba, south Brazil. Rimon came to our team and we started to work more professionally with advertising, promos, skate and music videos and art related projetcs.

In 2012 we came to São Paulo to work with bigger projects and since the beginning of this year we’ve had a break to focus on more important stuff: Fernando is in Sarajevo studying at Bélla Tarr’s Film Factory; Luan is travelling through Africa and Europe filming and making some art courses; Rimon is constantly painting between Africa, Europe and Asia; and I’m at São Paulo working on the script of my first feature film.

C8: What films or filmmakers have inspired you? Do you have any other influences such as fine art, music or theatre?

TB: I have two filmmakers that are in the absolute top of my admiration and inpiration:

Stanley Kubrick and Ingmar Bergman.

Regarding to other art forms, it would be mainly classical music, Sibelius, Liszt, Chopin, Philip Glass. I think classical music to be the only art form that strikes directly into my emotions.

C8: What is the essence of a good collaboration?

TB: I think it’s understanding. To have lots of different people and ideas going for the same objective. This can only enhance the power of what you’re doing.

C8: What’s next for Thales Banzai?

TB: Definitely my feature film. I intend to finish the script until the end of this year and start contact with producers and financiers in the beginning of 2015.

When I was 15 years I set up the time of ten years for me to start producing my first feature. Next June I’ll be 25, so I’m glad I’m on time!