Born in O’Porto in 1981, Jerónimo Rocha soon developed a taste for visual storytelling. Instead of playing football like most of the boys his age, he rather preferred to reenact movies and TV shows with a small bunch of renegade colleagues. He studied Graphic Arts in High (Technical) School and later graduated in the (Fine Arts) Painting course at the O’Porto University and post graduated in Pitching and Script Analysis at the Madrid Cinema School. Since 2005, he works at Take It Easy (a Lisbon based production company) as a fiction and commercial director, editor, animator and/or illustrator; where he also develops his personal projects, sometimes within the house’s creative department: Easylab. He still dislikes football.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
I don’t think so. That would be a nasty place to live. Every story that starts with that kind of question/premise doesn’t usually end well. So… my question is no, no there isn’t one.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level?
Stalker, from ‘79s “Stalker
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
Friend. Anyone who can dream of electric sheep is welcome. I’d watch them. Is this a Voigh-Kampff test? I’d love to.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Andrei Tarkovski (if I could go back in time), Neil deGrasse Tyson, and of course, Bill Murray.
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
Never. Read and travel. Let the brain and time do the rest.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? No, I don’t. Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
No, I don’t. No, that is wonderful! I love being by myself, meditating and dreaming up stories.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do you strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
Both. I try to work with practical effects as much as possible. It’s better for me and the actors playing the specific scene: they are THERE, playing it live. Also, if possible, I avoid any digital manipulation to the shots. Having said that, the digital medium of capture and post production available to us in this day and age is undeniably faster, if one has the discipline to employ that extra time into thinking and experimenting with the story and premise. Let’s not kid ourselves; these are tools; if the concept is not there, if there is no experimentation and risk, if there is no idea moving the train, it doesn’t matter if you work with digital or analog: you will produce an object devoid of personality. The technology in my films is newer but looks older.
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar? Research, drawing and redrawing.
Books (and artbooks), journeys, and the experience of living. Research, drawing and redrawing.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Star Wars is and will always be my first passion, but I also have a deep affection for Star Trek, witch I consider to relay more to the sci-fi themes than the former. Star Wars is more of a Mythical tale, in the likes of The Lord of the Rings or The Ring of the Nibelungen. Besides, why must it be one OR the other? / I love both, but Philip K. Dick was more influential in my life. / Practical. / Dystopia, because conflict is the only path for a great story. / Pre Apocalypse, because MAN only thrives when his life hangs in the balance. We supposedly live in a 0,7 type of civilization in the Kardashev scale, witch means that we are currently existing in a potential Pre Apocalyptic moment as we get closer to the type 1 paradigm.