Plastic Pornography: A glimpse inside the creation of Macho Carne.

Macho Carne, is a sensitive, intimate and poetically disruptive short film, a bet that leads us to reflect on sexuality, bodies and desire. We interviewed George Pedrosa, director of Macho Carne and invited him to share with us his thoughts and process. 

First of all I would like to know about you, how your passion for movies, art and your history as an audiovisual filmmaker came into your life.

GP: I feel like everything changed when I saw Scream (1996) for the first time in 2001. That was the first movie I remember seeing. I soon developed a taste for horror movies and for many years it was the only genre I watched. I remember I always researched: ‘Most Violent Movies Ever Made’ lists and watched everything no matter how shocking it was. I’ve also been into pornography since I was very young, even observing the technical part and criticizing it. I always try to combine sexuality and gore in my films

Regarding the experience directing an independent film, what is it like to create and give life to an idea and transition from script to screen?

GP: As an independent filmmaker I feel pretty limited when I write a script, because I think a lot about the possibility of producing what I write. I always limit locations and I don’t create many characters in order to simplify each scene. In my last projects – including Macho Carne – I was able to count on public financing so I felt a greater freedom of creation, but I still couldn’t get used to a larger and complex production. Then I still think of ways to simplify some technical stuff. In my next short, Casa de Bonecas (Dolls’ House), I really want to test a lot of new elements by using original music and creating an elaborate dance scene.

How did the motivation or the feeling to create Macho Carne arise? What elements, aesthetics or works inspired you and what was the trigger or the idea that led you to want to tell this story?

GP: I’ve always enjoyed plastic pornography of some large production companies and as the figure of the man wearing a uniform in a profession considered ”masculine” is always fetishized. I used to laugh at it and at the same time I was interested in that subject. It was not about replicating that language, but it was about making a plasticized and rehearsed porn with my own references. I always thought masculinity was a big joke. Growing up as an LGBTQ person and not being represented in audiovisual media intrigued me a lot. Somehow I wanted to break this symbol of the man that is so deified until nowadays.

Much in the film takes place between silence and music, but on the skin, the body is the scene and expression of hidden desire, irrepressible and almost violent, that wants to come to the light. Blood, piercings, cuts and distorted bodies: How was this cinematographic work on these elements? Were effects applied or is it all handmade work on the actors? How was directing the actors in the work with the body and the movements?

GP: Since the beginning of the project I never wanted to make a narrative film from start to end. I wanted to write some loose ideas and put them all together in post production. The film started being shot in 2019 and it would be totally different. We would finish after Carnaval in Brazil, but the pandemic had started and we stopped producing for several months. This time allowed me to rethink the entire production. I decided to shoot all scenes at a studio and creating my own universe without scenarios, but thoughts of someone about to shoot a pornographic scene. Chico Gonçalves is a theater actor and he has always been very receptive to my ideas. I showed him the performance of a dancer in Madonna’s Justify My Love video clip, which worked as a basis for the bodily scenes of performance. He also didn’t feel scared about the most violent scenes. I had the tongue scene idea the day before shooting and Chico accepted doing it right away. We didn’t use any elaborate makeup or effects. It was just him tying his tongue with a rope while fake blood was spilled. It looked beautiful.

An interesting break is the speech that the protagonist reads, the first time that the spoken and written word bursts through a sort of script and a single sentence that is transformed almost into a poem through its infinite combination, from this I would be interested to know: How was the process of creating the script?

GP: I had some loose ideas about the script, but a friend named Henrique Rodrigues whom I met during a cinema queer course helped me on references. It helped me a lot in the process of recreating Macho Carne’s script. I’ve always loved jockstraps, socks and wrestling uniforms, but I wanted to do everything my way and without replicating the work of some director I like. So these new references coming from someone else were essential.

Both in the visual aspect and in the script, Macho Carne stages many aspects of love, passion, desire, norm, social pressure, liberation, judgment and expression regarding masculinity. What is your feeling as a creator of a queer film in Latin America today? Do you think that the representations and the place of the LGBTTQIA+ community is changing in the field of cinema?

GP: One of the big reasons why my cinema is what it is was due to my influences outside the American cinematographic axis. I saw works of Brazilian LGBTQ directors which encouraged me about the genre I produce. Those were independent cinema productions focused on stories beyond cisgenderism or produced in large metropolises. Seeing these filmmakers financing their stories and showing their works at festivals ends up creating more cinematographic spaces outside the commercial axis – where the ideas exchanged between filmmakers and audience generate interest in telling their experiences and references in audiovisual.

How do you see the current panorama for independent filmmakers and artists in your country regarding LGBTTQIA+ diversities and politics?

GP: It is hard to believe because of the current Brazilian political situation but new emergency public fundings have been created in order to finance LGBTQIA+ projects Unfortunately, there aren’t many queer directors in the state I live (Maranhão). I still expect to see it change in the next few years.

In these last two almost surreal years of pandemic in which Macho Carne began its journey through festivals and diffusion spaces, How was your experience interacting remotely and/or in person? 

GP: Several possible festival trips were canceled. I haven’t had the opportunity to go on a tour with Macho Carne. Thanks to online festivals, I was able to see international and national films I would hardly have access to in my region. Watching and discussing mine and other filmmakers’ works online is always a great experience – especially about finding out how it was the producing process during the pandemic.

And finally, what can you tell us about your day to day life? Are you working on any new project?

GP: We have already started the pre-production of the fourth edition of Quelly, a cinema festival I produce along with Kasarão Filmes. We are also in the pre-production of my next short film Casa de Bonecas (Dolls’ House) which is being shot this March. This short is going to be a slightly narrative film.  It is about a group of non-binary and mutant people who live together in a house in the Historic Center of the city I live, São Luís.