Gazelle: The Love Issues, directed by New York Film Academy One-Year Documentary graduate Cesar Terranova, started as a five minute short project. It then grew into a feature documentary and became one of the most awarded festival recipients.
Since its premiere at the Brazilian Film Festival, critically acclaimed Gazelle: The Love Issue has won numerous awards including: Best Brazilian Feature Film by Jury at the Festival Mix Brazil (Nov/2014), Best Documentary Feature at the Mexico International Film Festival (Apr/2015), Gold Award for International Documentary Feature at the Documentary and Short International Movie Award in Jakarta/Indonesia (Mar/2015), Special Festival Award at the Rio Festival Gay de Cinema (Jul/2015), Best Cinematography in a Documentary at the Tenerife International Film Festival (Jul/2015), Best LGBT Film at the QCFF: Queen City Film Festival in Maryland/USA (Oct/2015), Jury Special Mention at the Cine Detour On The Rouad in Rome/Italy (Nov/2015), Best Professional Feature at the IAFOR Documentary Film Festival in Kobe/Japan (Nov/2015) and, most recently, Best Documentary Feature Award at the North Hollywood International Film Festival (Apr/2016).
Congratulations on winning so many awards with your movie! Where did you find inspiration for the initial idea?
Thanks! Before going to NY to study I was living in French Polynesia and started to buy online magazines. Then I found this strange magazine named “Gazelland” with lots of colors and odd creatures…but it was beautifully crafted and assembled with amazing photos. And when I started the program at the New York Film Academy, Gazelle Paulo, was the first person I approached to make a doc about. First, I asked if he would be willing to be a part of my 5 minute short… then it became my thesis film, and I continued working on it until I achieved a full length feature doc.
What was the most challenging part in the creation of this project?
The editing process. It felt like it would never have a real ending. After graduating from NYFA, I travelled around the world, following the character, and then I got back home and sat for almost two years editing all the footage and materials I collected for over the course of three years.
New York Film Academy’s Chair of Documentary Department, Andrea Swift, who is a two-time Telly winner and three-time Emmy nominee, helped me so much by giving me feedback and pushing me to keep working on the editing until I got the satisfactory material that I submitted to a Festival in Brazil. Once it won the Best Brazilian Feature Film Award…only then, was I convinced I had a film ready.
How did you fall into documentary? Was it something you had always wanted to do?
My grandmother was married to a filmmaker, which was always a major inspiration. I was born and grew up in the middle of sets. At 16 I got involved in the business as a Dubbing Actor, at 24 I became a photographer working on cruise line ships. Step by step I got money and equipment to produce music and I became a DJ as well. Then with my first Canon 5-D, I decided it was the time to try filming. Docs felt like they would be cheaper to make, so it was my choice to begin making documentaries before stepping into the scripted films.
Would you say your training and experience at NYFA was useful in terms of making Gazelle: The Love Issue?
I tried to make a short film before attending the program and it was a huge mess. From my first short at NYFA until my achievement of the feature Gazelle: The Love Issue, NYFA gave me the skills and basic techniques I needed to organize my knowledge to be able to become a documentary filmmaker. The school helped me get to the point where I could make my film happen.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in entering the documentary industry?
Take a month for tourism. Start your program focused on finding subjects that you may consider good for pilots. Use the strength of the program to produce shorts that may become your feature films. Make everything useful for your life! It will be forever in your creative personality.
It’s been a pleasure to talk to Cesar Terranova. He is currently working on a film about Brazil and is also developing a trilogy about NY Artists. After Gazelle, he will start filming Scooter LaForge and Fernando Carpaneda.
NYFA wishes him nothing but good luck and success for the future!