Determinedly working to achieve your goals, no matter how ambitious they may be or how many obstacles you have to overcome, can be an equally challenging and gratifying experience. While you may have to face such challenges as people telling you that you can’t obtain your dreams because of your economic status, your will to survive and prove your ambitions are realistic and worthy can be a powerful motivator. The protagonist in scribe-helmer Afonso Poyart’s action film ‘2 Rabbits’ commendably fights back against any social conflict he faces as he tries to stop the political corruption in his country. The Brazilian filmmaker also admirably didn’t let any economic struggle prevent him from realizing his dream of developing and making a movie.

‘2 Rabbits,’ which marks Poyart’s feature film writing and directorial debuts, is set to be released on VOD and iTunes tomorrow by XLrator Media. The drama, which was filmed in Portuguese and features English subtitles, follows Edgar (Fernando Alves Pinto), a young upper-middle class man who lives a life that’s full of problems and crisis, which is common to the vast majority of Brazilians. Edgar, like his peers, lives in a corrupt state, where politicians abuse their power, and care more about protecting themselves than serving the country’s citizens. As a result, violence and organized crime are increasingly rising.

Edgar responds to his country’s rising corruption and crime by becoming a self-imposed vigilante. With the help of technology, counter-information and manipulation, Edgar concocts a brilliant plan, using the greed of his opponents as the reason for their destruction.

Poyart generously took the time recently to talk about writing and directing ‘2 Rabbits’ during an exclusive interview. Among other things, the filmmaker discussed how he knew that when he decided to make his feature film writing and directorial debuts, he immediately wanted to focus on the rampant world of criminals and political corruption in Brazil through the personal and emotional perspective of one character. The filmmaker, who also made his editing and producing feature film debuts on the action thriller, mentioned that he felt like his decisions as the helmer triumphed his concerns as a producer most of the time, especially since he feels particularly close to material he also writes.

ShockYa (SY): You penned the script for the action thriller, ‘2 Rabbits,’ which follows the upper-middle class Edgar as he battles ruthless gangsters, corrupt politicians and shady lawyers in São Paulo. What was your inspiration in writing the script for the film?

Afonso Poyart (AP): Well, this is an idea that I’ve had for a long time. i had been working on commercials for awhile, and I wanted to break into features. I had come up with this idea of telling a story about a normal guy who was pulled into this world of criminals and corruption. That’s something that’s very present in the everyday lives of people who live in Brazil.

So I also wanted to show that this normal guy is going to develop a plan to stop the criminals and corruption. So that was the inspiration when I sat down and started writing the script. But I then realized that it could be more personal and emotional, rather than just showing the overall social movement.

SY: Besides making your feature film writing debut on the drama, ‘2 Rabbit’s is also the first feature film you directed. Was it always your intention to both pen and helm the movie? How did writing the screenplay influence the way you approached directing the thriller?

AP: For me, I knew it was easier to direct a film that I had also written and helped developed from the beginning. Writing the script guaranteed that I had a connection to the material, which was a very important thing for me as a director. As a director, I also had a much stronger understanding of the movie because I had also written it.

I felt the difference in the connection I had to the material with ‘Solace,’ which is the film I was hired to direct after I made ‘2 Rabbits.’ (The anticipated film stars Anthony Hopkins, Colin Farrell, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Abbie Cornish.) I didn’t feel as connected to the material in my second film, as I didn’t come up with the initial idea. The script was also written by another writer. I’m the type of director who prefers to be a part of the development process from the beginning.

SY: The drama features a diverse ensemble cast, including Fernando Alves Pinto as Edgar, and Alessandra Negrini as Júlia. What was the casting process like for the main actors in the thriller?

AP: Well, this was the first feature I directed, as I had only previously worked on a short film (‘Eu te darei o céu’), so it was a bit more of a challenge to cast the roles. I enjoyed working with the cast, but most of the actors aren’t that well-known, except for the actress who played Júlia. I had sent her the script, and when she read it, she said, “Wow, this is different. I want to do it.”

Then for the supporting actors, I opened a casting call, and left it open for about two months. I auditioned actors from everywhere, and who had all different levels of experience. That worked very well, because we found unique actors.

SY: ‘2 Rabbits’ features elements that aren’t common in Brazilian films, including explosions and special effects. What was the process of creating the stunts and action sequences for the thriller?

AP: Well, the script was very ambitious, because it has a lot of action. So a lot of people felt that we couldn’t do that on the type of budget that we had. Action sequences always take a lot of time, and we tried to set off the explosions in the best way possible. We also didn’t have a lot of professional stunt people. So the actors had to perform a lot of the stunts themselves.

SY: Besides writing and directing the action film, you also served as one of its producers. Why did you decide to also produce the drama? How did working as a producer and the director influence each other?

AP: That’s a good question, because you’re also at war with yourself. The producer side wants the movie to remain economical, and the director side wants to tell the story in the best creative way possible. There were days that as the director, I wanted to keep shooting, so that we could get the best shots possible. But as a producer, I also wanted to save money. As a producer, I also kept telling myself, you can’t do this shot, because it’s too dangerous. But I felt like the director’s side won most of the time. (laughs)

SY: With the thriller taking place throughout São Paulo, what was the process of finding the locations around the Brazilian city that you wanted to film in?

AP: Well, I wanted to find locations that have a very urban feel to them, as the movie’s set in a South American metropolis. There’s a lot of concrete and construction here that I wanted to include in the film.

So I had a production team and location manager who started working a lot earlier than when we started filming. He started taking photographs of different places. He found different and unusual spots that people have never shot before.

SY: The action thriller screened at several film festivals around the world, including Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas and Valencia College’s Brazilian Film Festival. What was your experience of bringing the movie to the different festivals?

AP: Well, I actually didn’t have much time to attend the festivals, as we were more focused on the film’s theatrical release in Brazil. I was also hired for my American film (‘Solace’) after I finished this movie, and I began working on that one right away. But I’m happy that this film was seen at the festivals around the world.

SY: Besides ‘2 Rabbits,’ do you have any other films lined up that you’re going to write, direct and/or produce? Are you interested in doing another action film?

AP: Well, after I filmed ‘Solace,’ I came back to Brazil and began working on another movie, which I’m actually finishing it right now. It’s a biopic with a lot of action and fight sequences in it, and it’s a very cool project. Then I’ll hopefully be able to do another project in the U.S.

Interview: Afonso Poyart Talks Two Rabbits (Exclusive)
Photo Credit: XLrator Media

Written by: Karen Benardello

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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