PEOPLE INVOLVED IN CONSCRIPTED
(In chronological order from pre-production)
Jorge, my father, placed the first piece – his 8mm footage; he was also the face and voice of the documentary as well as the interviewer. He never thought this journey would be as intensive as it was (at some point he really wanted to break the camera in two!). His interest and stamina never shrunk though, not even when we had back-to-back meetings all day long. We got to the point where I was coaching him for the next interview while one of us was driving...
Jorge was also the author of the six original drawings that inspired the film's animation, and it goes without saying that this film would never have happened if it weren’t for him.
Award winner filmmaker Gideon Koppel was my tutor at Royal Holloway University of London, and one of the most challenging and thought-provoking masters I have ever had! I couldn't wait for my next tutorial with him, even though each time meant exponentially more work.
He saw CONSCRIPTED being developed from the earliest draft until the final academic version (20 minutes), during which period he bombarded me with film, book and photography references, but also with an array of brilliant questions. My favourite was: "what are you trying to say?" - It sounds simple, but I promise you it can take away your sleep…
Information about Gideon's latest film, Sleep Furiously, HERE.
Ângela da Costa Maia
Dr. Ângela Maia is a researcher in Psichology at Minho University (Universidade do Minho) in Portugal, and her papers on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder inspired my initial vision for CONSCRIPTED. Her research with Colonial War veterans started 30 years ago, so if I wanted to do this right, I had to speak with her.
Luckily Dr. Maia liked my email pitch and conceded me her time and expertise. I am still very thankful for this, particularly for the time she spent with the veterans in Lisbon. If you are interested in the topic I strongly recommend reading her papers. You can find some HERE.
Manuel Monteiro, José Vitorino and Jorge Magalhães were fellow soldiers in Santa Eulália (69-71). Manuel Clarimundo was there for a slightly shorter period, as a medical doctor. They spent much time together, playing cards, talking, drinking and even flying cable-controlled model airplanes – Clarimundo’s personal hobby. Within a barbed-wire amidst the Angolan scrublands, not everybody got along. Their friendship provided a unique and lasting bond, even decades later.
This core group of veterans were very open to the idea of participating in the documentary and never backed down from it. Early in our conversations they all confessed to rarely or never talk about the war with their families. Furthermore, they seemed sure that it was "too late" to do anything about this silence, as if the film was a pointless, albeit interesting exercise.
Then there were the other veterans that we visited across the country, not all included in the final film but, nevertheless, men with a history of survival both from the war and from the following four decades. After a life full of ups and downs following the war, Celestino Pereira and Joaquim Duque Mendes live in a recovery centre managed by the Comunidade Vida e Paz (Life and Peace Community).
My wife helped me throughout the production. Particularly when we shot the veterans' first reunion in forty years (she was my boom operator) and then throughout post-production. She did some drawings for the animation, which earned me some hours of sleep, but nothing compared to her patience to watch each of my rough cuts with a critical eye (and believe me, there were hundreds!), as if watching them for the first time. Her support kept me sane.
Ricardo Falcão and Miguel Valadares
Ricardo runs Media Force Productions (Portugal) and is the guitar player in a progressive metal/rock band called Forgotten Suns. When I approached him with the idea for this documentary, and explained that we would need some classic Portuguese guitar, as well as some revivalist tunes, he didn’t flinch and went for it. The result was a powerful soundtrack that makes all the difference in the film.
Ricardo and Miguel also produced the sound effects for the animation. I had decided not to use real weapon-like sound effects and wanted musical instruments instead, they worked their magic and the outcome was the "Bombs" track, which lent a whole new atmosphere to CONSCRIPTED’s animation.
Ana was a precious help during production. A talented filmmaker and photographer herself, she covered mostly sound, doing also some camera as well as sharing a few valuable cinematography tips. When the veterans went to interview Dr. Ângela Costa Maia - a rather intense three hours talk about a sensitive topic - Ana made it possible to capture key moments by ensuring that the sound was picking up everybody. Sometimes, taking over the camera while I replaced radio mike batteries, got tapes ready, moved the tripod, or even went to the toilete!
Ana took some fantastic production photos, some of which you can find HERE.
Afonso de Albuquerque
One of the (if not The) best-known psychiatrists in Portugal. He introduced "group therapy" for veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Portugal. This was in the early days after the war ended. The first group met in the staircase of his service in the Júlio de Matos hospital in Lisbon. This became an established association (APOIAR) which he presides to this day.
A Colonial War veteran himself, he was invited by the government back in the mid 90's to help legislators draft the bill which recognized that PTSD existed in Portugal, and to lay down how to support those affected. Finally, his team was responsible for the only epidemiological study on PTSD ever done in the country (2004), which allowed to estimate how many veterans were still potentially suffering from this condition.
President of the Associação dos Combatentes do Ultramar Português - ACUP (Association of Combatants of the Portuguese Overseas), he has been campaigning for the rights of his fellow veterans for years in the north of Portugal. Thanks to him certain organizations that harbour homeless people, like the Comunidade Vida e Paz (Life and Peace Community), now have a certain quota of their available space dedicated to veterans. This is making a significant difference as many of these men have been living in the streets for years. José Nunes directed us to the Comunidade Vida e Paz (Life and Peace Community) and his interview was very informative; this will be included in the DVD extras.