Spotlight: Vasco Alexandre

A tenner from a Ten

Eons ago, when I worked with sales and international business building, we used to classify customers and potential business partners on a scale from one to ten, where we counted ourselves as fivers. “Always strive for numbers higher than your own. Go for sixes and eights!” – was the mantra we worked after. In reality, we ended up with twos and threes, and sometimes even zeros; like signing up someone’s dead uncle or just making up a person. This was a reaction to FOMO long before the FOMO concept was born. In a way, it was like a sad version of the sad story “Wolfs on Wall Street” …Those were the days.

by: Magnus c/o founder Shortly

But when you Do find a real tenner it’s always a lot of fun!
Vasco Alexandre is a well renowned and award-winning filmmaker currently situated in Denmark.
I got the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions about short film and short filmmaking.

Shortly: How long have you been doing short films and what made you start?

Vasco: I’ve been doing shorts since my early 20’s. But my passion for film started in 2006, at 12 years old, when I won a film competition hosted by the Portuguese TV channel ‘Sic Radical’ with a homemade pirate film shot with my dad’s help in our backyard. The award was a film camera and a trip to Tokyo for the Pirates of the Caribbean premiere. From then on, I knew I wanted to make movies.

Shortly: What is it with the short film format that you like?

Vasco: It takes a lot of work to tell a well-rounded story in about 10/15 minutes. They’re usually focused on single situations and straight to the point, which is more intimidating than feature films. Also, the time constraint often leads to innovative storytelling techniques and visual styles. It’s easier to experiment as it’s usually authorial and there’s no big financial investment on it.

Vasco Alexandre

Shortly: Are you living the dream, or what is your ultimate goal regarding filmmaking?

Vasco: I’m making films and winning awards, so on the one hand, yes, I’m living the dream! But I’m still freelancing in the commercial world to pay my bills, so that could be better. I still haven’t had the opportunity to direct fiction on a big scale, which I’ve been craving for a while. Once that happens and I can dedicate 100% of my time to cinema, I will feel like I made it for real.

Shortly: Is short filmmaking “only” a stepstone for full-length features and tv-series or does it have a “value” of its own?

Vasco: Shorts work pretty well as proof of concept for feature films. My first short, “Yard Kings”, is currently being developed into a feature. The short helped a lot in getting attention for the project. The same happened with my latest short, “Ten With a Flag”, which resulted in creating a TV series in Denmark. In my case, I planned those shorts with that intention so production companies could see the potential in developing those stories into longer formats. It worked to that effect, and I’m happy I took that decision. But for me, good shorts like Fauve, Wasp, or Nefta Football Club don’t need a feature film. They are as good as they can be in a short format. When I watch them, I get closure with the story, and that’s an art on its own.

Shortly: Has the general view changed about the value of short films or is it the same as before?

Vasco: There’s a sudden attention to short films today, which I guess goes along with the fast consumption of modern society. Social media is making us more used to short formats. Streamers are also investing more in short films, which is great. The ability to create websites and platforms is more accessible today, so you can find way more platforms than 10 years ago. There are thousands of film festivals, which can be overwhelming, but they help the short film industry to grow. Shorts have become better seen than before for this reason; more people are making and sharing them, but they still fall into the “trying to get that feature done” category. Unfortunately, none of my non-filmmaker friends spends a Saturday night watching shorts, which is a shame. There’s great stuff out there, and you see many reputable directors coming back to make short films, like Yorgos Lanthimos, who directed Nimic in 2019.

Vasco in action

Shortly: How did you find out about Shortly?

Vasco: This is a funny story, as I used AI to find it! I asked to chatGPT about sci-fi short films, and it recommended I check out Shortly. And so I did and saw all these gems!

Shortly: If you were reborn as an animal, what would it be?

Vasco: This question reminds me of the movie “Lobster” with Colin Farrell. I’m inclined to agree with him, as Lobsters have lived for over 100 years and have a very complex nervous system. But a white shark wouldn’t be bad either because of their nomadic nature. I have lived in 7 countries, constantly looking for a better life, so I identify with them on that one!

This is all fantastic!
So what have we learned from this?
AI is da shit, and a lobster-shark movie could be something. Probably already been done in Japan though.

Ten with a Flag

UK, 16 minutes
In a society governed by a numbered ranking system, Gemma and Jack are informed by the state that their yet-to-be-born baby is rated a perfect ’10’, and, as such, will be a prodigious asset to society.

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