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Conversations with Valéria Costa

Today we’d like to introduce you to Valéria Costa.

Hi Valéria, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I originally came to Los Angeles to study the practical side of filmmaking. I had only studied cinema theory until then. When I was about to graduate and it was time to find a job in the industry, the one thing I knew is that I wanted to work on a company that had business relations with my home country, which is Brazil. So, I started my research and I came across Brazil Production Services – BPS. I remember that the company caught my attention and thinking that the business was very interesting, but I was involved in other projects at the time and didn’t apply for a position right away. A couple of months later, I received a message on LinkedIn from a BPS employee whom I had added to my network during my original research, asking me if I would be interested on a producing internship. I said yes right away and, almost four years later, here I am as BPS’ Production Manager.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It hasn’t been a smooth road and I don’t expect it to get easier at all. As time goes by, the struggles change, but they will always be there. In the beginning of my career, for example, my biggest challenge was to understand and apply all the technicalities that comes with the job, like how to build a production budget, how to properly assemble and manage a team or how to assist and guide our clients to the best outcome possible. Right now, the biggest challenge is, of course, the worldwide pandemic and all the sudden changes that came with it. There’s only so much of an audiovisual production that can be done remotely and we’ve been working very hard to make sure we deliver the best product possible to our clients while adapting to the new way of running a film set.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I act in a very specific niche of the film market. I’m specialized in assisting American or foreign companies that wish to shoot productions in Brazil, as well as Brazilian companies that wish to film productions in the U.S. Due to my experience in both markets, I’m able to understand my client’s expectations when they arrive in Brazil or when they plan to have a city in the US as a filming location. So, besides having the usual responsibilities of a Film Production Manager, such as building and managing the production budget, sourcing qualified local crew, overall costs negotiation, overseeing risk assessment and production insurance matters, managing the production’s legal paperwork, monitoring deadlines and the production schedule; I also advise my clients on the local filming requirements of the country that they are looking to film at and align their expectations based on the limitations that their chosen location imposes. I think the highlight of my career at this point would be my fast growth inside Brazil Production Services. I started working for the company in the end of 2017 as an Assistant Production Coordinator and, a few months later I was promoted to Production Coordinator and then, after a year, I went up to where I am now, which is their Production Manager. BPS has a number of big industry players as their clients and I feel proud to be such an important part of the team.

Can you talk to us a bit about the role of luck?
Both bad and good luck played important roles in my personal and professional life. I had bad luck when I was still a film student, I was just starting my MFA in Filmmaking in Los Angeles, and Brazil entered a very concerning political phase, which for me meant that the US dollar exchange skyrocketed when compared to the Brazilian Real and all my savings and financial planning all of a sudden fell apart. I remember the exchange almost doubled in a matter of a couple of months and I almost had to give up my studies. Fortunately, with the help of my family, I was able to stay and finish my master’s degree, but that experience taught me a lot about how to think on my feet and to find fast and effective solutions to problems that you didn’t see coming. As for good luck, I consider my best luck to be when this former BPS employee contacted me with an internship offer. Later, we discovered that we had friends in common back in Brazil and that made us connect on social media and, ultimately, work together.

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