Breaking into the industry: Portuguese filmmaker Fabio Guerreiro discusses lack of support for indie directors

SineScreen recently caught up with Portuguese filmmaker and cinematographer, Fabio Guerreiro, to find out his thoughts on being a young filmmaker in the industry today. Fabio is a freelance filmmaker with over ten years of experience working across productions including TV commercials, corporate films, award-winning short films, and music videos.

Hey, Fabio. How did you first get into filmmaking?

I’ve always liked watching films, taking pictures and making short videos with my friends just for fun. I’m from a small town in the Algarve, Portugal. I moved to Lisbon to study communications. Since then, I’ve worked extensively shooting for advertising, TV and film.

I worked hard on my first short film, “Part-Time Queen”, as a director, editor, and producer. Part-Time Queen was awarded in few festivals in the country and screened internationally. In 2012 I worked on my first feature film (The Right Juice) as a camera assistant. I then moved to London to freelance and completed my Master’s in Filmmaking and Cinematography.


What are your favourite films? What or who are your main influences, style-wise?

Some movies that I always remember while I’m filming, directing or writing include Pulp fiction, The Godfather, Seven, and In the Mood For Love. Thinking about them helps me develop my own style. Although one shouldn’t follow a certain style of cinematography, styles always depend on plot, script, and of course, the director’s view. The latter always influences the style or mood of visual storytelling. I’m passionate about Christopher Doyle’s work. His style is an amazing mixture of colors and subtle camera movements in Kar Wai Wong films, like “In the Mood for Love” and “Hero”.

You’ve worked on projects from feature films to corporate videos (Elle Magazine, Minute Maid). What have these experiences given to you?

The more opportunities you get, the more chances you have to improve your knowledge and skills. Working on a feature film was an incredible experience and boosted my confidence. I’ve been inspired by a huge range of people. Freelance cinematography keeps you active, but corporate jobs have tight deadlines without much space for creativity. You’re given more time to research in film.


What’s your favorite part of the filming and editing process?

My favorite part is when I read the script for the first time. All the different ways to transform that words, story and scenes into images blossom in my mind. It’s an amazing process.

It’s really important to study your audience and the culture you’re working in. For example, English and Portuguese visual tastes differ. In the UK, the audience wants fast information, multiple scene cuts and jump cuts. In Portugal we like long, static shots.

Do you feel that it’s difficult nowadays for young filmmakers especially to break into the industry, as well as be fairly paid? Have you found it easy to find work?

Definitely! Nowadays there’s much more competition. So many people have amazing talent. It always depends on many factors such as networking, opportunities, country, support, etc… In my position as a young filmmaker I’m finding very difficult to keep a steady stream of income. As a freelancer you don’t have an ongoing job all the time, so we’re always looking for a chance to be on set again.

The lack of support for independent filmmakers is a problem. Unfortunately we keep watching blockbusters at theaters which are supported and financed with a huge budget. These films have poor storylines usually, and are then remade! Is Hollywood lacking in new ideas and creative scriptwriters?

Fabio Guerreiro

What are your future goals for your career as a cinematographer, director, and filmmaker? Do you have any exciting projects in the making that you can tell us about?

In London I was doing a lot of video and corporate projects that were not very well paid and weren’t related to my goals as a cinematographer. I’m back in Portugal now, challenging myself with short film and music video projects. I’m also working on a script (and struggling with financing!) for my next short film that I’m planning to shoot in September.


Keep up with Fabio Guerreiro on Vimeo and at his website

Melissa Legarda Alcantara

Melissa Legarda Alcantara

Melissa is the editor of SineScreen. She enjoys dark chocolate, film festivals, and finding Freudian undertones where they don't exist. Catch her on Twitter at @melissalegarda.


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