Director of Marketing Interview: Susana Grilo

Director of Marketing Interview: Susana Grilo

Experienced digital marketer, Susana Grilo joined Outland in 2014 as our Director of Marketing. She has been involved in a variety of really cool companies, such as Cartoon Saloon and Noble Beast, both of which have produced award winning material. She is also a talented project manager, film producer, and screenwriter. Like everybody at Outland, she wears many different hats, and we’re very lucky to have somebody of her experience working with us!

You’ve worked in production, marketing, and writing across a number of storytelling mediums. What got you interested in storytelling?

I guess I’ve been exposed to it since a very young age. First it was my Grandmother telling me all sorts of stories she invented on the spot. We then started reading to each other and that made me quite the story addict. Then I would reenact the favorite bits of the latest book or film with Playmobile. And when the plastic smiles wouldn’t do it for me anymore I started writing stories down: from fanfiction to original short stories.

Can you remember one of the first stories you wrote?

I believe it was a (supposedly) scary story for a Halloween party. I don’t think it was even two paragraphs long.

Your education is in cinema and audiovisual production. What made you choose film as a medium?

I’d loved TV and film for a long time, but here in Portugal it’s not something that is presented to you as a career choice. However I was lucky enough to run into a course brochure, in one of those work fairs, that was exactly that: Sound and Image. I still remember realizing in awe that “this is a profession. There are people who do this for a living.” Since then, being part of this world has been my focus.

You have worked on several projects as a producer. For those outside the theatre/film industry the duties of a producer can seem nebulous. Can you talk a little about what the duties of a producer entail?

What a producer does is always kind of a mystery. They say you’re supposed to be a kind of parent, a friend, and a boss. What you really do is take care of everything logistical and think about what anyone might come to need. Schedule and prepare your budget in detail.

When the time comes, you’ll be grateful that you had a plan that you could stick to, even if you (so many times) find yourself walking on the opposite direction. If you’re prepared, you can handle all those curve balls that always (yes, always!) come hurtling at you.

Do you prefer working as screenwriter or in production?

Production is a more active job: you’re out there, you have to solve problems quickly, deal with the demands and needs of a lot of people. Screenwriting is more quite: you can choose the pace you want to work at – unless the story gains life and propels you at full speed (which is also great).

I would have to say that producing something you’ve written is the most fulfilling of the options. You get the best (and worst, don’t get me wrong) of both worlds and a unique rush of adrenaline, because it’s your idea, it’s your story that is closest to become something tangible.

What film project in your career are you the most proud of?

I would have to say the short film “Entropia”. It was the final project of my MA, the team we assembled was working exactly on the roles they liked and on a sci-fi time traveling story—a genre we all loved. It still feels like a student film, but having it screened across more than 6 countries, in different capitals all over the world really makes me proud.

What projects outside of film are you most proud of?

I’d have to say promoting the Delicious the Event. I put it together by myself. There was a screening of the film “Delicious” directed by Tammy Riley-Smith, starring Louise Brealey (‘Sherlock’) and Nico Rogner (‘Séraphine’), followed by a Q&A with the director, the protagonist and the composer of the film score, Michael Price (‘Sherlock’ [BBC], ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Love Actually’). It finished with an instrumental concert by Michael Price, accompanied by cellist Peter Gregson.

It was really fun (yet stressful!) to make everything from scratch: from contacting managers to film producers, getting the right venue, and making sure everyone felt comfortable. But getting it all done, seeing how positively the audience reacted made it all worth it.

You also work in media marketing. How did that start?

I did an internship at the Irish animation studio Cartoon Saloon, having the pleasure of working on the recently Oscar nominated feature film “Song of The Sea” – their second Academy nomination following “The Secret of Kells”. I worked on several departments during my time there and one of my jobs was revitalizing the social media pages. There were hundreds of fans waiting for updates and just talking about the film, but they didn’t have a proper outlet. So I started focusing on that and I’m pleased to see that the work I began 3 years ago is not only active, but prospering.

I really enjoyed switching places between being a fan and working for a company, trying to find out what each of these sides want and what are the best ways to deliver that. Since then I got the social media bug and continue to work with theatre companies, award winning publishers (Noble Beast), and now here at Outland Entertainment.

You have been involved in most, if not all of the steps in the creative process. What, in your opinion, is the hardest step in taking a concept and delivering it to an audience?

I believe it depends on the project at hand. However, I think that the financial aspects of it have become an integral part of the actual creative process. Most of the time what I’ve found is that – in spite of all the new resourceful ways to be funded – getting your budget is the most difficult part. If this takes too long or becomes too overwhelming. It can suck out the fun of any project, no matter how much you love it.

Do you have a favorite screenwriter or director? What draws you to that person’s work?

David S. Goyer has been a favorite of mine for quite some time. I’m addicted to all things that deal with time travel or the many-worlds theory, so his series “Flash Forward” was one that I really enjoyed.

Steven Moffat is another one for the high ranks. “Jekyll” and “Sherlock”, not to mention his early days in “Doctor Who” have been a great inspiration. There’s an episode in “Jekyll” that’s brilliantly structured. It meddles with all your screenwriting preconceptions. When you think you got it, he throws you another clue and you find yourself craving for answers: he completely plays with the audience’s minds.
Their writing, themes, and the entangled way in which they deliver their stories is what makes these works stand out.

Film recommendations?

It kind of comes and goes, but there are those films that stick with you like “The fountain” by Darren Aronofsky and “Jump” by Kieron J. Walsh.
And definitely “Before Sunrise” by Richard Linklater. The easiness of the flowing dialogue, allied to the simplicity and current relevancy of what is discussed turn what could be easily seen as a romantic “talkie” into an essay about love, youth, and life in general.

The whole rise of superheroes movies has its pros & cons, but I do enjoy a good blockbuster such as “The Avengers” by Joss Whedon.
Oh! And I may or may not know the lines from the 1st Pirates of the Caribbean by heart…and watched Nolan’s “Inception” a tad too many times… So you might say I’d recommend them.

Short films?

The animation short film “Thought of You” by Ryan Woodward: it has beautiful fluid movements that resemble Glen Keane’s latest short “The Duet”.

What about the future? What projects are you looking towards in the future.

I have some projects lined up, but right now, apart from all the exciting announcements here at Outland Entertainment, I’m really interested in giving shape to a personal cross media project: “Next Stop”. It’s a fantasy world that provides an entertaining non-religious view on reincarnation.

Time travel: a purely sci-fi element?

Time travel: a purely sci-fi element?

I’ve never been sure of that. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of time travel, even though, going back a few years, I didn’t see myself as a sci-fi fan. It appeared in the books and movies I avidly consumed, but was it science-fiction or fantasy?

How much scientific accuracy there needs to be for a narrative to be considered science-fiction? Is that even at all relevant? Sure you have time travel that is so technical and scientifically structured that you don’t hesitate in calling it sci-fi – in perceiving it as such. Take H.G. WellsThe Time Machine, for example.

But then the lines start to get blurred. And a detective story – the movie Memento – or a love one – the novel & movie adaptation The Time traveler’s Wife – get’s you thinking. You even have a time-turner in Harry Potter, which there is no doubt of being Fantasy through and through.

So what does it take for time travel to be freed from the sci-fi spectrum?

Time travel is more often than not associated with the sci-fi universe, but it surely is not confined to it. Do you find it more often there? Is it more cohesive or realistic (if we can call it that)? Maybe, but it finds place in all kind of narratives.

From fantasy to romance to science-fiction, it can appear in any of these genres. The main difference is perhaps the level of imagination or scientific norms that rule that possibility: the paradoxes, the multiple timelines, what can or cannot be changed.

Through the Doctor in his TARDIS to Dr. Emmett Brown in his DeLorean we’ve been taught a lot about this matter, even if some of it is contradictory. We have seen a myriad of theories and rules, from the unchangeable force of the fixed points in time to the dangerous repercussions of changing the slightest moment in history.

We may question how something takes place, we probably don’t even agree or think that some theories are simply too farfetched.

Nevertheless, I dare you: have you never dreamt of travelling through time?

And that’s it. The universal force that binds us all to this story element, no matter the genre it is wrapped in.

 

S.G.

Belonging to a Fandom: (The Good) The Bad and the WT#?

Belonging to a Fandom: (The Good) The Bad and the WT#?

So you’re part of a fandom. A whole group of people shares theories, art and fanvids fervently. You finally feel at home with all those likeminded peers.

Sure it’s fun BUT have you read or watched anything else for the past <introduce a ridiculously long amount of time>?

I’ll go out on a limb here and say you haven’t.

You’ve been sucked into a vortex of active participation (or sometimes just passive contemplation) of characters, story arcs and entangled theories.

Remember the “strange consequences” I mentioned on the previous post? Well, if you’ve ever been part of an active fandom, I think it’s safe to assume that you did cut some ties with the real world during your fanatic days.

And then maybe it got cancelled or you simply turned that dreaded last page. I’m pretty sure you felt angsty and acted snarky towards those clueless around you: withdrawal symptoms.

And that’s when you venture into the fandom’s gloomier place, reserved to relive those darkest hours that marked the end of the world you were so completely immersed into.

But we know this is how it goes. It’s a vicious cycle. So why?

Why do we feel the need to tear our eyes out watching favorite characters suffer, die, live impossible loves?… Doesn’t real life provide us enough pain? Do we really need more? Are we supposed to be living in such a perfect world that only their hurt – the one we watch, read -gives us the pathos escape we need?

I believe our lives are far from perfect many times. As it is often said we have moments. Of happiness, sadness, even despair. But this doesn’t mean that our lives aren’t good.

No matter how grateful you feel, there is always a little “something” you wish was different: for me is health. If only I had Disney’s Rapunzel magical healing powers… But it’s fiction. Fantasy. And there lies the reason why we take refuge in fictional worlds: there are no limits, or rephrasing it, the limits are different.

By this point you’re probably thinking “Eureka! What a breakthrough, Sherlock.” And you’re right. I’ve been just stating the obvious. Now, what I am trying to get to is why do we torture ourselves with fan art of those final agonizing moments of a character or story?

Having had some reasons to cry in real life, I found myself crying with one of those fanvids. I am not even talking about watching, say “Angels take Manhattan” (Doctor Who’s 7th season finale], where you are experiencing the whole thing for the first time and find yourself grieving the characters that you’ll miss, the familiar faces that won’t be on screen every episode. I’m talking about masochistically re-watching episodes and fanvids with “tear trigger” music. Seriously: what’s wrong?

I think we have to go back to the beginning: “why” are we part of a fandom?

We need to belong, to share our experiences through those worlds.

We need to have heroes, but they have to be flawed and able to get hurt.

Only then we get our catharsis.

You cry for their pain, while secretly crying for yours. Are we really that shallow? Can we just show feelings over fictional characters? No. But it’s easier. You don’t have to explain it. It’s there. It’s the lost of your favorite character or the love story that will never be.

It isn’t. It’s you. But that doesn’t have to be said to anyone, not even to yourself.

 

S.G.

Westerns – Living Proof of ‘Fusion Literature’

Westerns – Living Proof of ‘Fusion Literature’

Westerns take me to ghost towns, dry unforgiving deserts, cowboys and, of course, those straw rolls blowing through the middle of the empty cinema canvas. Cinema! I only encountered westerns on movies. From “The Great Train Robbery” to “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly”, my imaginary turns to fishy taverns and their dubious customers, just lolling around waiting for the best gunslinger in town to give a show – and maybe die in the process so that one of them can take his place.

But this world of outlaws and dusty misfits has been in the literary realm long before it reached the silver screen. Beginning with James Fenimore Cooper’s series of novels, it spread with the dime novels, based sometimes on real life characters, of the likes of Buffalo Bill or Billy the Kid. The Pulp Magazines and later the comics also helped immortalize the genre.

However, while the first stories have the cowboy, the sheriff, the indian, nowadays the genre has mutated. Mixed up with different genres, you get the most interesting set ups and characters.

Fantasy brings sorcerers and dragons into the outskirts of the cities.

Horror carries curses, zombies and unknown perils.

Steampunk takes the industrial clogged world to these deserts. Intricate machinery thrives, characters with mechanical limbs abound and guns are more powerful and unpredictable than any real western pal put his hands on.

Sci-fi adds some futuristic touches: cyborgs, spaceships, aliens and time-travel – which on its own conveys a ‘Verse full of opportunities to explore.

And yes, westerns are still on tv series and movies (even games), but in literature it has gained another chance of imposing itself as a sub-genre and get noticed by more avid readers. You can argue that it isn’t really “western literature” anymore, because it has an assortment of elements that its early writers would never approve.

Or would they?

Let’s not get too caught up on the labels, shall we? Let’s face these mixes as we would with…”fusion cusine”. Yes: embrace genre-bending or “fusion literature”, and just enjoy the new flavors authors keep on creating

S.G.

Has Fantasy Lost its Hallmark?

Has Fantasy Lost its Hallmark?

Fantasy isn’t just castles, dragons, and wizards anymore.

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you stumble upon a Fantasy book? Most people think of elements of folklore and mythology like castles, dragons, kings and queens, ghosts, wizards, and curses. Am I close?

Fantasy is a broad label—one that’s moved away from the stereotypical wizards-castles-dragons model of the past. Today, Fantasy encompasses many other genres and subgenres, including horror, sci-fi and everything in between. If there’s a fiction I.P. that doesn’t easily fit into the Historical, Romance, Thriller or Horror genres, you can be sure to find it in the Fantasy section. Some bookstores have expanded their Fantasy sections to include subcategories like Supernatural Fantasy or Historical Fantasy — neither of which have Fantasy’s hallmark mythology/folklore streak. Maybe it’s not a hallmark anymore.

Fantasy has become extremely popular as it has grown to encompass different kinds of fiction. Fans enjoy it because it gives them the opportunity to explore beyond the realm of reality. Fantasy fiction shows us the unreal and the real—things that don’t exist in our world as well as common, everyday things embellished by a setting that allows them to grow into something more.

I embrace the broad new definition of Fantasy. Perhaps I’ve been exposed to too much genre-bending fiction. I prefer not to put books into restrictive, premade boxes anyway. For me, Fantasy isn’t necessarily attached to myths or ancient folklore. I define it as any fiction that has something special or otherworldly.

When I pick up a Fantasy book, I know what to expect before I even read anything about it. I know that it will feature something out of the ordinary, even if it is set in my own time and space. I expect a change, for something more to happen — something that transcends the everyday. This is fantasy’s true hallmark: That shift away from normal that transforms the reading experience—and let’s be honest, the immersion in a book’s universe — into an experience full of discovery and wonder.

S.G.

Genre Discussion: Are genres more than mere labels?

Genre Discussion: Are genres more than mere labels?

At some point, we’ve all been asked to determine whether a piece of literature is fiction or nonfiction. We are asked to distinguish poetry from narrative, plays from novels, stories from essays. We look for cues in the content and format to determine genre.

But genre has increasingly become more than a way to describe content and format. It defines the whole narrative structure: Science Fiction, Romance, Thriller, Young Adult, Fantasy, Mystery. Each genre a tight little package, the contents of which are often extremely predictable.

I’m not here to proclaim against genre, though. I just want to give it a tiny little nudge.

The two big literary genres are fiction and nonfiction, right? But let’s stick with fiction, as that’s what we do (and mostly read) here at Outland Entertainment. And that’s a lot. You can lose yourself between labels and all their sub-genres and crossovers: Supernatural Romance, Sci-Fi Thriller, Young Adult Fantasy—the list goes on.

But do we really need genres? Do we want labels to shape our reading choices?

Sure, even unconsciously you’ll be filing your next book away neatly on top of all the similar ones you’ve read, giving its genre away. Nevertheless, do these labels actually work their prejudice into our reading choices?

Genre labels can prevent us from reading great books. Think about it. Do you ignore your preconceptions and proudly strut into the Children’s department to get that latest Young Adult Fantasy book you’ve been dying to read? If so: congratulations! I have to confess that I always feel a bit queasy when entering an area full of glittery shiny books and cute stuffed animals. Yes, it’s all in my head. But so is the inexistent niece or sister I immediately conjure up in order to justify my presence as I shuffle through the “15 & up” section at light speed.

These posts will explore of the preconceptions attached to the genres we publish inside the Speculative Fiction scope. I hope to hear your thoughts on these matters and get suggestions on what genres or topics to tackle in our Genre Discussion. After all, blog posts are brief nonfiction essays that are meant to…

Okay, okay…I’ll shut up now.

Good readings!
S.G.

Announcement: Outland Reshuffle

Announcement: Outland Reshuffle

Welcome to our site relaunch! It’s been a long time coming, and we’ve made a few important changes to our organization. Here’s what you need to know now:

  • Our new site is streamlined to combine our creative and publishing services. This gives us the opportunity to highlight our own creative projects alongside client projects. We have many to share.
  • We’re officially in the digital publishing business! We can’t wait to showcase our lineup of incredible authors and artists. More details to come.
  • We’ve added two amazing team members to our roster: Susana Grilo & Edward Lavallee. Susana is a social media expert who excels in publishing, transmedia, crowdfunding, and film. Ed is a stellar graphic designer and comics writer specializing in print publishing. We can’t wait to see what they can do.
  • To cope with our growing pains, we’re working with Aaron Boerger at Defined Ventures. He’s an innovative business consultant dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get organized. With Aaron’s help, we’ve become a stronger, more efficient outfit. We recommend his services to anyone who is ready to take a small business to the next level.

Much has changed, but the important things remain the same. We’re still dedicated to bringing projects to life with our quality creative services: art for hire, storyboards, colorwork, and more. We’re still passionate about telling stories in fresh, innovative ways. We look forward to meeting new creators, recruiting new talent, and publishing the best new authors.

Welcome!

JM