Film Played a Big Role in Finding Myself and Knowing What I Want From Life by RESGATE Writer/Director Mickey Fonseca
Film Courage: Where did you grow up?
Mickey Fonseca: In Maputo, Mozambique.
Film Courage: What was life like at home?
Mickey: Happy childhood, surrounded by lots of cousins and a storyteller grandmother… She told stories every night without fail!
Film Courage: Did your parents support your desire for a creative path?
Mickey: My parents were quite happy I’d finally found myself.
Film Courage: When did you first begin working on film sets?
Mickey: In the year 2000, I moved to Cape Town and was lucky enough to meet the right people at the right time.
Film Courage: What was your first job?
Mickey: I started at Monkey Films from the bottom. As an office PA/SET in the commercials industry. I cleaned floors, made coffee, lunches, and slowly went up the ladder. On film sets I worked in all the departments, carrying gear up and down. I can say I paid my dues!
Film Courage: First camera ever used (film or photo)? Anything unique about the experience?
Mickey: I always had a THING for photographs and still do! My father gave me a Nikon and a set of lenses when I was about 11 or 12. He says he always knew the direction I was going take in life! I grew up watching films. There wasn’t much else to do and it was damn exciting. I was lucky enough to live five minutes from the movie house and my grandmother made sure we went to watch a film once a week. The other times I went with friends and we’d sneak in. I saw Indian, Czech, spaghetti westerns, Italian and Russian films! It was thrilling to go to the cinema! It was thrilling to watch the performances! When I was 12, I watched E.T. and wrote to Steven Spielberg asking him to take me on as an actor. I was ecstatic when I received a letter from Amblin Entertainment! I couldn’t believe my eyes! They gently told me to get an agent. I didn’t even know what an agent was but, still, I was thrilled!
Film Courage: What were your plans after secondary school?
Mickey: I wanted to be a lawyer but I got kicked out of school before I got there. I had no idea I wanted to be a filmmaker until I got to Cape Town. But I always loved films and music. I always knew there was an artist inside me, I just didn’t understand it or was too busy getting high. When I think about it, it was always there. I just didn’t see it.
Film Courage: Did you go to film school?
Mickey: No, I didn’t go to film school but I’ve had the opportunity/luck to work with a lot of talented filmmakers throughout the years and learned a lot from them. I also read a lot of books on film making, watching films on a daily basis and doing a few film workshops when I can afford.
Film Courage: Do you currently live in Maputo?
Mickey: Yes I do!
Film Courage: What is daily life like there?
Mickey: Everyday is a hustle. Things don’t come easy. It’s hard work, but it’s great. It’s a great country, great people and a lot of potential.
Film Courage: How is cinema regarded?
Mickey: It’s appreciated. We have a history but that’s about it. Not many films are produced and the time has come to change all that. There is a demand for local content.
Film Courage: Where can people see films?
Mickey: At the cinema, cinema clubs, and mostly DVD. Lots of pirated DVD’s float our streets.
Film Courage: What are the favorite films of this area?
Mickey: Hollywood Productions, Brazilian and Portuguese (language).
Film Courage: What were the two first films you fell in love with?
Mickey: They are not from Mozambique, but the very first — The Good, The Bad and The Ugly — by Sergio Leone( ELI WALLACH as TUCO — killed me!) / The Amphibian Man- a Russian science fiction by Vladimir Chebotaryov and Gennadi Kazansky — I was always curious about the costumes of the fish man and how they had managed to make the film. Today, I’m in love with many films and filmmakers. I enjoy Japanese / French / Australian/ African / American / Latin-American and Italian films. My favorite director of the moment is Jacques Audiard!
“Mozambican stories inspired me to write RESGATE! Everyday, hundreds of stories happen here and nobody seems to be putting them on film. RESGATE is based on actual events. Well, not really — it’s based on what happens here…”
Mickey Fonseca, Writer/Director/Co-Producer of RESGATE
Film Courage: Is there a native saying about success that you love and always follow?
Mickey: Yes, ‘TXOVA XITA DUMA,’ which basically means ‘Push And It Will Start! If You Don’t, It Will Never Start!’
Film Courage: What inspired the story for RESGATE?
Mickey: Mozambican stories inspired me to write Resgate! Everyday, hundreds of stories happen here and nobody seems to be putting them on film. Resgate is based on actual events. Well, not really — it’s based on what happens here!
Film Courage: What is the film about?
Mickey: The film is about a lot of things but essentially, it’s about a man searching for redemption in the wrong places.
Mickey: Film Courage: What does the film’s title RESGATE mean?
Mickey: We are crowdfunding because we need to pay for running production costs. We have all the ideas, busy re-working the script (Yes, AGAIN!) , we own all the equipment but unfortunately we don’t own the cast, crew, locations, etc… We have to raise the funds to cover these costs!
Film Courage: How much are you planning to raise via crowd funding?
Film Courage: How much of your money or investor money are you bringing to the film?
Mickey: At the moment we have about 40K!
Film Courage: How did you calculate what the budget was going to be?
Mickey: According to what needs to be shot and production requirements, location and with whom.
Film Courage: How many crowdfunding campaigns had you studied or donated to before launching the Indiegogo for RESGATE?
Mickey: Studied many campaigns as well as tutorials, interviews- (read all we could find online) and have also donated to some. Not large amounts, unfortunately.
Film Courage: Did a housing crisis hit Mozambique, similar to the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis?
Mickey: YES… WE ARE IN ONE AS WE SPEAK! A terrible financial crisis that’s leaving many jobless and broke! The way I see it, THE COUNTRY is going through the same thing as BRUNO, the central character in the film. WE (country) have also inherited a debt from the previous government that has left the country in shatters. It is up to us to act. Now we have to see if we don’t make the wrong choices for the right reasons. Either way, there will be consequences, just like our character in the film.
Film Courage: Is this your first feature length film as a writer/director/co-producer?
Mickey: Yes, this is my first feature film as writer/director/co-producer
Film Courage: For your new movie RESGATE, did you come up with a film budget first Or was it the other way around of having the idea first?
Mickey: The idea came first. It came very BIG then we started cutting it down to accommodate a realistic budget. Fortunately the budget restraints have made the story simpler, stronger and better!
“In Cape Town, I was rescued and I guess this reflects in my work. I’ve been clean for 16 years. Film played a big role in me finding myself and knowing what I want from life.”
Mickey Fonseca, Writer/Director/Co-Producer of RESGATE
Film Courage: Do themes of rescuing someone from peril and abuse intrigue you (as have been similar themes in some of your prior short films)?
Mickey: YES, they do. I’m not truly sure why but I guess its because I was rescued from peril myself by film. When I moved to Cape Town, I was running away from myself and a terrible heroin addiction (8yrs of hell). In Cape Town, I was rescued and I guess this reflects in my work. I’ve been clean for 16 years. Film played a big role in me finding myself and knowing what I want from life.
Film Courage: Your characters in the 2009 short film MAHLA were compelling to watch. How was it writing the female character of Ermelinda and her struggles with such depth and believability?
Mickey: Lots of research. I write about what surrounds me. I hear and live dramatic stories. With this, I create my characters and let the actors live/bring out their own experiences.
Film Courage: How was the film and its subject matter received by viewers?
Mickey: It was greatly received, especially in Mozambique. It went to a few film festivals and got great reviews!
Film Courage: How long was the idea floating around in your head before you started writing RESGATE?
Mickey: I was writing another film when a string of kidnaps started happening around Maputo. Pipas suggested I think of something… that same night I wrote the first act.
Film Courage: How long did it take you to write the first draft?
Mickey: About a month.
Film Courage: Once you finished the script, how many rewrites did you do?
Mickey: I’ve lost count and it’s time to stop. I’ve lost count. I keep working on it.
Film Courage: Why so many?
Mickey: I enjoy going back to the story! Things always become clearer after a break. I also work with a script doctor (Brian Tilley) who throws ideas that demand changes sometimes.
Film Courage: What parts did you feel needed improvement?
Mickey: The ending needed improvement. I wasn’t buying it. Now I am.
Film Courage: How many people did you share the script with during the writing process?
Mickey: Luckily for me, I have a friend who is a script doctor (Brian Tilley). He was always willing to help for free and throw out new ideas. I also shared it with my closest colleagues — Producer (Pipas) / Line Producer (Maura).
Film Courage: How long have you been planning the film?
Mickey: In all, about four years. There have been endless re-writes, casting sessions, location scouting and fund raising. A few months ago, we went to LA to meet some producers to help us BOOST the Indiegogo campaign.
Film Courage: What went into the pre-planning?
Mickey: It’s been 4 years of planning, scouting, and casting, researching. Last year, we decided to make the trailer so we spent more time on it. Closed off the cast and did weekly readings before we shot it. I intend to do the same for the film. We are still in planning mode.
Film Courage: How did you meet RESGATE’s DOP and co-producer Pipas Forjaz?
Mickey: When I lived in Cape Town, I used to come to Maputo and shoot commercials. On one of my trips a common friend introduced us. At first I didn’t like him, thought he was a bit of a snob. Today, I can’t imagine life without him. We think alike, respect each other and have a common vision for our company, our films and our country!
Film Courage: Why do you two work so well together?
Mickey: Because we want the same things. Make a great film, commercial, documentary or whatever we’re working on at that point. We work very well together and there are no egos involved! In all the work we do together, we communicate, plan, talk about it. There are no reservations and we don’t ever take things personal. We have a pretty clear and common idea about where we want OURSELVES and Mozambican cinema to reach.
Film Courage: As glamorous and exciting as making a feature film sounds, how surprised were you to see how much work goes into pre-production?
Mickey: HEHEHHEHE… I’ve always been prepared for the work. I found out it wasn’t that glamorous when I was serving coffee as a PA!
I keep saying to Pipas “If we can work our butts off to make commercials and other people’s projects look great, we can work thrice as much to make our film be the best ever produced in the country.”
Film Courage: Have you cast actors for RESGATE?
Mickey: Yes, I have.
Film Courage: How did you cast your actors?
Mickey: Some of the actors, I wrote characters with them in mind but finding the lead was a challenge. We have been casting for over two years.
Film Courage: Are they local actors?
Mickey: All local cast. A mix of professionals and amateurs.
Film Courage: What was the audition process like?
Mickey: The process was exciting. We got to meet other talent that will not be on this film, but whom we will use for other films.
Film Courage: What’s the end result for the finished version of RESGATE?
Mickey: Take it around the country. Mozambique has a population of 24 million people. We want to take it on the road. Then, yes, do the festivals circuits and hopefully find a distribution deal!
Film Courage: Although the film has yet to be shot, what do you anticipate audiences gaining from the film?
Mickey: I hope the audiences see a bit of themselves in the many characters and the things they are going through… That sometimes it´s OK to let go, to loose! That crime doesn’t pay! That you can’t fix the past by destroying (risking) the future!
Film Courage: What language will RESGATE’s dialogue be?
Film Courage: Will you have subtitles?
Mickey: YES. English/ French for starters!
Film Courage: What’s next for you after RESGATE?
Mickey: NA TERRA DO CONNECTION — It follows the story of KATIA, a young street hooker fighting to kick a heroin addiction and steals a valuable flash drive from a dirty cop!
Born in Mozambique in 70’s, director, screenwriter and producer, Mickey Fonseca has started his filmmaking career 16 years ago as an office/production assistant, photography assistant and assistant director in Monkey Films, Cape Town. Gradually, he had the opportunity to work in several production departments. He grabbed it and before he realized, he was writing, directing and producing his own movies — his childhood dream.
Back in his home country, in 2009 he produces his first film with Pipas Forjaz, the short “Mahla,” a dramatic narrative about a young woman who is abused by her tormented domestic partner. And so Mahla Filmes was born, located in Maputo, and other shorts films followed, proving that a dream can transform something way bigger.
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