Roxie Oliveira was born in London, raised in Porto by her fiery Portuguese single mum, and has spent the last nine years back in London. She is an award-winning writer and director who graduated from the University of Surrey with a First Class degree in Digital Media Arts. She started as a photographer and graphic designer but throughout her degree, she found her true passion – filmmaking. Working in all areas of production, including being a runner, boom operator, first AD and the occasional glitter placer, she watched as the directors ran the show. In her first time in the director’s chair Roxie made I Close My Eyes to See (2021), a semi-autobiographical film of a young artist whose dreams of greatness plummet when she discovers that she may go blind. This was a very personal film as two years prior, Roxie was diagnosed with IIH, a condition that could potentially impair her sight. The film has gone on to receive multiple awards and selections across the globe, including ‘Best Original Script’ at LIMFF and ‘Best Indie Short Film’ at the Florence Film Awards.
After graduating, she worked as a Production Manager in virtual production, where The Last Man (2022)was born.
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 must admit researching into the first Moon landing and watching movies like ‘First Man,’ only served to make me want to go to the Moon even less. The idea that these people risked their lives for history is incredibly humbling and something my fear of heights could never help me achieve! I think I’d be more suited to the Orbit City in The Jetsons, one of the few beautiful science-fiction cities that isn’t under constant threat of evil forces.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level?
As much as I love strong female characters like Ellen Ripley and Princess Leia, I can’t say I seem myself in them yet. Now other hand, I can relate to Doc Brown’s panicky and scatty nature on a spiritual level. I think all of us have that mad scientist in us, who makes mistakes and can be a bit of a nuisance but always means well. He’s definitely one of the most entertaining Sci-Fi characters ever made and one I’d love to grab a cup of coffee with.
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?
Never trust the machine! I think it would be interesting to see what they could come up with, it would probably be all based off of existing data and they’d be able to create the “perfect” Sci-Film by using past successes as a base. But it would miss the human error that makes a film worth watching. Would be cool to see what they’d come up with tho!
Who is in your Sci-Fi Squad?
Does Megatron count? Besides being huge, he’d take absolutely no prisoners! And then maybe Doc Brown to keep the team spirits up.
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?
I tried to make a mini series in 1 month with no money, about a young boy who develops temporary powers when he eats strange food. This was a nightmare to make, from trying to find a child actor, figuring out the VFX logistics and creating all the post production by myself. For me, sometimes trying out the bad idea is the best way to get to the good stuff. I can’t work off blank paper, I’d rather write crap and put it away and then look at it a week or a month later. I find I can, at times, turn that into something good because I no longer have the daunting task of filling a blank page.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
Yes, and no. I find it incredibly daunting to think of the future in any real terms, it’s usually scary and bleak. But I love watching Sci-Fi films and seeing how other people see what we could potentially become or how the universe could’ve been different.
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
I carry a film camera with me at all times. I love the imperfection it adds to the final product, it adds so much more character to every moment. There’s something about holding this piece of old tech that feels much more elegant than digital.
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?
I’ve been using Midjourney a lot lately, an artificial intelligence program that creates images from textual descriptions. This is a great tool to start building a world based off of key words that I have in my head.
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 1000% Philip K. Dick Practical always wins, Jurassic Park animatronics still hold up against the remake Dystopia to read and watch. Utopia to live please. Same as before, post apocalypse to consume and pre apocalypse to experience.