Remember last summer, when we wrote about three friends from Portugal and Slovakia who started their own movie projects as freelancers in the UK, while studying full time? Renato Dias, Gonçalo Valle and Bruno Mojš are the names behind Elit Pictures – they’re back and they told us all about the new project they have been working on in the past few months.
What have you been working on since we last spoke in the summer?
We have been working on developing the company and increasing our business by finding more clients and starting new relationships. The growth demands professionalism and compliance with business legitimacy, that drove us to finally register Elit Pictures as a private limited company. Because Elit Pictures is not just about the business and to keep our creative mind set flowing we are developing Homo Verum, our most ambitious project so far.
Are you still managing to balance your university related tasks and company workload?
The current pandemic forced the educational system to adapt and consecutively gave us time to invest our energy in the company. Even though we are forced to be at home we are proud to be flexible enough to continue to evolve despite these troubled times.
Has the COVID-19 made an impact on your company and work?
COVID-19 definitely impacted us. Projects delayed, travel restrictions had us lose amazing opportunities and filmmaking being a collaborative process, limited our networking capabilities. This situation has been around for over a year but we still managed to create new opportunities for our business. A thought that helped us continue this hard working journey was “if we manage to grow in an hostile environment, we equip ourselves with skills that allow us to be confident for a bright future, when in normal circumstances.”
What is your new project, Homo Verum, all about?
Again, our love for films is immense, so we wanted to take the opportunity to use our time to work on one of the most ambitious projects so far. Homo Verum is our next film and we have been repeatedly surprised by the positive reaction we have been getting from our pitches and casting phase. We knew that this is going to be the project that sets our place in the industry, so we went all out. We contacted people that we never, in our wildest dreams, thought would become our work colleagues. After the project presentation and script reading, we managed to cast amazing Portuguese actors that are now aligned to incarnate Homo Verum characters. The story is about Gabriel, a recently graduated doctor, who in 1894 went to Dr. Fidalgo’s mansion to become his apprentice. Dr. Fidalgo’s unorthodox methods, together with the presence of his wife Agnes, force Gabirel into a battle between his moral grounds. The film is an historical Post Horror that will be shot in Portugal. We knew that the help of a portuguese production house would be invaluable. So again, we went on a pitch strike and finally landed with one of the most successful portuguese production houses, AG Films. During this fund raising process we also managed to get the support from Castelo Branco (Gonçalo’s birth town) and Hotel Alambique D’Ouro, in Fundão.
Is it hard to work in an international environment, bringing Portugal and the UK together?
Working through a worldwide pandemic, alongside Brexit, it definitely did not facilitate our project’s path. We have assembled an extremely capable and talented international team, consisting of people from all around Europe. Our main production plan always consisted of bringing everyone together on the shooting location, in Portugal, but confronted with extreme travel restrictions from the United Kingdom, we were forced to take action on this regard, minimizing the amount of travel that each member of the team will embark on. Because we truly believe the benefits that having a diverse and international team bring to the project, we have not abandoned the need to bring all these nations together under the name of our movie, Homo Verum.
Do you have any advice for international students wanting to set up their businesses in the UK?
Considering that the UK is a cosmopolitan center of Europe on many levels, the benefits of starting a business in this country are very apparent. The opportunities that we have been facing throughout our journey abroad are invaluable, but starting a business is never a sea of roses. Taking brexit into account, there are more things to consider when setting up a company in the UK, from an international student’s point of view, but nonetheless, it is something that we truly recommend, especially when dealing with an industry like ours. We truly believe that one of the main reasons for our growth has been the amount of determination and independent hard work that we have been dedicating to our company. So as our main piece of advice for someone that is considering taking a similar path to ours, we say: grab every opportunity, and do not wait for things to fall on your lap.
Homo Verum began as a Final Major Project for our university course, but being our last film throughout our university journey, we knew that this movie was going to be our calling card for the film industry. Dedicating the majority of our time and work towards making this project grow, it has now surpassed every expectation that us, or any of our tutors, had for it. We continue to think outside of the box when dealing with every stage of the film, and so we could not be more excited to see where it will end. From the beginning of our academic journey, we have never taken a project lightly. Always trying to raise our “university projects” towards being more than just a student film, we have developed a structure of work discipline that we believe to be essential for bringing a film like this to the screen.
What do you plan to achieve with your new project?
The big goal of Homo Verum is to turn its story into a feature length film, which is why we have launched a big crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, a platform that allows audiences to fund projects like ours. Counting with a big range of perks to choose from, we are looking for help in funding the production phase of this movie. You can learn more about Homo Verum by visiting https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/homo-verum#/