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.
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.
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.