For Odilon Rocha, the Berlinale Talent Campus proved a far-reaching stepping stone. Three years after Rocha took part in the training program, Universal Pictures Intl. agreed to co-produce his debut feature, “Prime Time Soap,” an ensemble drama set in 1978 Brazil against the backdrop of its military dictatorship, and he’s now launching a cross-border production shingle, Cria Films.
“Prime Time Soap” tells the interlinked stories of a group of people living under the country’s dictatorship, linking the infectious fantasy of a hit telenovela and the euphoria of disco fever. Universal will release the film in Brazil this year with other territories likely to follow.
“Soap” was co-produced by Universal, Cria, Joao Queiroz’s Sao Paulo-based Querosene Films and Geracao Conteudo with coin from Brazilian tax incentives and private investors.
The film is one of eight projects Rocha is developing based on original ideas or published works that are in various stages of development, with the helmer looking to direct some of them.
Co-founded by Rocha and Stephan Ducharme, a finance expert with a background in investment, development banking and private equity, Cria straddles Sao Paulo, London and Berlin.
Rocha says he and Ducharme aim to produce and finance films with crossover, international and commercial appeal.
Planned projects include “The Samaritan,” a dark Christmas tale set in contemporary London that was developed through Step-by-Step (a Media Plus script development program) and one of 12 screenplays selected to take part in the Berlinale Talent Market last year.
Also in the works is “Idol’s Fall,” a teen slasher horror movie about the trappings of fame set in the pop music industry; “Almost Human,” a dark romantic comedy; and “The Hand of the Creator,” a romantic drama set in the theater world.
“One of the greatest complaints we hear from the industry is the lack of good material,” said Rocha. “What we found is that what is missing is execution and funding to turn ideas into fully developed screenplays. So we have decided to invest our time and money to provide the industry with such material.”
The projects will include stories set not only in Brazil and Europe but also the U.S., Latin America and beyond.
“Although we will be able to use the tax incentives and private funds available in these countries, the main reason behind our approach is to produce stories with international and contemporary relevance in partnership with the local talent of these countries,” Rocha said.