Interview to Pedro Lopes – General Director of Contents
Pedro, you’ve been in SPTV since its creation 15 years ago. How did your love for the writing started, particularly writing fiction?
I feel the first signs emerged during my adolescence but only noticed it later. In high school when the lessons didn’t interest me, I used to fill my time writing stories in script format, even I didn’t know exactly what it was, which means I’ve always thought in a graphic way. After that when I was at the “Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa”, where I studied History, I was involved in plenty activities, I did theatre, played in a band and after school spent my nights at the cinema or cultural soirees. But despite al those signs I still thought that my career would go thru teaching or investigation.
How does an historian who loves facts could fall in love with fiction?
Probably I felt in love with History because it’s also a narrative structure that, just like the audiovisual fiction contributes for the social memory construction. Stendhal used to say that the fiction is the reality with some details and it was this that fascinated me in this area, we don’t have to stay stuck to the reality but to what we call verisimilitude.
How do you analyze the national and international evolution of fiction over theses last 15 years?
Each market has his own specificity. We are a peripheral country, although with the streaming platforms emergence has been created conditions, for the first time, for the public to access to movies, series and documentaries from all the world without being dependent of the chooses of a program director, because these platforms are in fact real videolibraries with several contents. In our country remains some resistance to look at the cinema and television as an industry. This word has a negative meaning even if you add after industry the words cultural and creative. The question is that our market will only be stronger if we have people who could professionalize, build a career and grow. For that it’s necessary to have a continuity of production, that is why I think the transposition of the European directive is essential and brings a larger responsibility for the market players, making them partner of this movement which need to have creative enthusiasm and that will only exist if there is an obligation of writing in Portuguese.
Pedro has already written many and good stories, even won an International Emmy Award with your telenovela” Laços de Sangue”, aka Blood Ties, in 2011. Which project gave you more pleasure writing it?
It’s hard to answer. I consider myself an enthusiastic person and to little nostalgic, so the last project where I’m involved is always the best one. Obviously that this happens because I’ve been lucky to tell stories where somehow, I have a personal interest. At least it has happened with all the works that I’ve wrote, I don’t know if it happens with others authors but I see them always with my personal vision of the world.
What is the feeling seeing your stories coming to life in the screen?
The final result is the end of a long process where you aggregate talent in each area adding value and contributing with their knowledge for the vision that as been created for the project. This team work fascinates me because we are always in contact with interesting persons with whom we learn each and every day. This is the dimension of a production where we all are involved every day. After that you have the incoming that has to do with audiences, the way that the public sees them and the critics to our series and telenovelas. At SP Televisão we have a great respect for the public because our main aim is to communicate with our audience. So, we keep self-question during the entire process if we are giving our best.
You have trained authors over these years, you’re also one of the professionals of this area most requested to give lessons in storytelling and attending to conferences in Portugal and abroad. Do you feel the responsibility in creating new professionals? More than the theory do you give them your experiences? Which advises would you give to those who wants to follow your steps?
You don’t teach talent but we can help to reveal it. I actually care more about in giving the students theory skills. As any other activity you need to have discipline, effort, curiosity and passion. However, an important part of my work as a teacher (at Escola Superior de Comunicação - ESCS - Escola Superior de Comunicação Social (ipl.pt) and Universidade Católica Portuguesa - http://www.lisboa.ucp.pt/) has been helping the students to find they one voice as authors.
Besides attending in some of the most important international events and being member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Science, you are also the author of the first Portuguese series for Netflix. Do you feel you are one of the main responsible for the diffusion of the SPTV work. Do you feel simultaneously that you are also promoting the national fiction?
If I ever feel that I’m the main responsible for anything then I’ve lost my discernment. Companies from the universe of SPTV are made by persons and each one contributes in their own way for the success of our series and telenovelas and for the group success. Obviously, there are some persons that have more visibility because their roles require it but I think that what we’ve accomplished is thanks to the endless number of persons that arise in the credits.bGlória promoted abroad the national fiction yes, it is a fact. And I think this series was an excellent visit card which allowed to show the Portuguese creative capacity.
Which stories are yet to be told?
All of them! That is probably the greatest anguish of an author, knowing that only a little part of the projects that he has in his mind will be produced. But I’m very confident in the stories that we are writing at SPTV and SPi and I hope they reach the national and international market in 2023 and 2024.