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Interview with director Hernan Velit

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I think I haven´t a particular event or time, I tell stories since I was a kid. I remember that in my hose we had a video camera and I always was recording, just for fun. I think that my childhood is a very important part of my inspiration at the time to write, and every time, my brain starts to imagine how will film that stories. So I think that filmmaking it is in my subconscious. 

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I haven´t went to a film institute, so my answer is no. I think that the most important think to learn something it is in the making. The institute can teach you a lot of things but the most important, it´s discover your style, your way to tell the things. Only your eyes, your ears, your mouth, your heart and your soul can tell your story. The film institute can help you, but it is in you. If you have the necessity to tell a story and you can´t go to the film school, you will find the way.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Money it´s always the hardest thing to keep going or start. When you are an independent filmmaker in Peru, most of the time you have to find the resources, make the phone calls to your family and friends to ask for collaboration. Because it is your project and you want it in a kind of way that anybody else can understand, so you have to find money or work 2 years and put your hand in your pocket to paid everything to make it happened.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

In 2015 had the honor of be introduced to Luiggi Cozzi in Rome, in Profondo Rosso store, and we have a conversation about movies and I talk to him about a story that I was writing. At the end of that conversation he told me 2 things, “Be honest with yourself, read your script a thousand of times if you need it, and don´t think about shoot if you have a little doubt about the script. You can only shoot when your story tells you that it´s ready”.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

 The interesting process about “Back then”, my last short film, was the rehearsals. Not because was difficult but, I really want to get a real relationship between Denise and Eduardo, to feel that they was a couple and had that conversation for the very first time, so we had only 4 rehearsals because I didn´t wat to ruin that feeling of the moment, of “the hit”. We created a very beautiful moments, very close and intimate moments but we hold the explosion to the shooting day. It was a big learning to all, to hold, hold and then… BOOM!

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Cut or not cut the sequence, that’s the hardest of all. I love to work whit the same editor because he know me, and let me see what I have, what I want, and what he want to do… then, when you have options in your table and have to take a choice, the only way is with your heart… then you always be right… if not, it is right because you feel it in that moment. That’s the beauty of this job

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

We want the same things; we want the success of the project. If they don´t and only work with me for money… I am not the person who they want, if the love my project and take it as theirs, we will have the best relationship ant the work and out of it to.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

The audiences want what the filmmaker have, I don´t think that exist a formula, I think that every person want to see, or hear what others want to tell so, believe me when I say that always are people to your work. You only have to be honest with yourself.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

There are very necessary spaces. The possibilities that the festivals give to the filmmakers to show your work in a lot and different countries. Show your particular vision of a Peruvian director like me, and show it to someone in a complete different culture, and maybe we discover that have a connecting point in that story with people of other culture, that, for me, show the importance of movies and connect people around the globe, Without the festivals, movies that isn´t commercial, couldn´t get to that audience.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

When you see a movie and get trapped by the story, you stop thinking about styles. If the director make that you only think in the movie as a technical work, or looking the style, maybe the story wasn´t telling correctly. Every single director can tell a story in a very different and particular style, but it is the story who decide… you can´t make nothing without thinking in the sense of the story because you have to be loyal to yourself and communicate correctly the feelings, and the messages. Of you make a scene in the space, just because it looks amazing, but your story it is about a girl and her first boyfriend, you have to ask yourself if you really have to go to the moon to make that scene, that answer can show you the way and decide the style of the movie.

  • What qualities or attributes do you look for in people you are looking to employ or work with?

Talent and commitment, but my team are the first audience of the project, if the feel about the project the same way that I want to my audience feel, they are the right people to work with me. The have to love the project the same way I do, only that way they will be put their heart in it.

  • Would you recommend writers think like a producer when writing their script? Or, just write with reckless abandon and then worry about the cost, or whatever, after they’ve grabbed a producer’s attention.

I write, and when I am doing it, I just think about the story that I want to tell, I don´t think how much that it cost. If the cost is a problem, maybe I have to find the way to reduce the cost, but one thing you cannot do is put limits to the creativity thinking in numbers.

  • How involved in the writing of a project do you get? Are you more involved in the initial development?

Depends, I work a lot in advertising, and the agencies give me the script, so I start to work with the writing done. But if I can contribute to empower the idea I will always share my way to see the project.

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

First of all, my movie project call “Despiértame cuando todo termine”/ “Wake me up when everything ends” , that’s it´s my dream project now.

  • What does the future of film look like?

More stories, less silence, more things to see and lots of ways to see it. The art continues and the human being will find the way to continue making and enjoying.