The actress, the wig and the alligator

I called Renata de Lélis, the amazing lead actress of The pink cloud, to ask me if I could tell this story. She replied, “Nobody wants crazy actors, but people get the best stories from them.” I laughed and said, “We just had a crazy day.” It was the day Baby Marques, our awesome makeup artist, had to save me…

From the beginning, the actors and I knew that we had difficult scenes to shoot for The pink cloud. Renata and Eduardo Mendonça, her co-star, had to fight, be intimate, play with a toddler and even do a home birth scene. So I wasn’t at all worried about the movie’s role-playing scene.

The premise of the film is as follows: after what should have been a simple one-night stand, Giovana (played by Renata) and Yago (played by Eduardo) are suddenly trapped in an apartment by a toxic pink cloud and mortal who appears out of nowhere. While they are forced to wait together for the cloud to disappear, without even opening the windows, the years pass…

We didn’t shoot The pink cloud chronologically, but we shot the main sequences in order. We started with the first weeks of confinement, then a year after their confinement, then three years… And when certain hazards clashed, the crazy day happened.

Iuli Gerbase, Renata de Lélis and director of photography Bruno Polidoro on the set of The pink cloud.

The role-playing scene takes place when, after five years of confinement, Giovana and Yago are having dinner, and Giovana can’t stand living with him and watching him 24/7. She says in the scene, “I know all the stains on your back. They are seven. I know all the strands of white hair on your head. It’s not normal. No relationship is like that. I can not support it.“We abruptly cut them at the same table, with the same lighting, but looking differently. Yago now has a weird bad boy vibe and gel in his hair and Giovana has a blonde wig with bangs and a tight purple dress. Role-playing has begun, and trying it now is a necessity for Giovana.

We first shot the part of the scene where Giovana says she’s had enough. The actors then went to their dressing room to be transformed by Mariane Collovini, our costume designer, and Baby Marques, our make-up artist. Both are very talented and intelligent women who have a calm vibe that makes the dressing room a relaxed space for the actors.

After what felt like longer than necessary, the cast, Baby, and Mari returned to set. Baby gave me a warning look and said, “She didn’t like the wig.” Renata came up to me and said, “Well, my name is Cuca! Cuca is a character from Brazilian folklore, a scary witch with an alligator head and long fingernails. And this is how Cuca appears on a popular Brazilian TV show for children:

Cuca, the alligator witch, in the Brazilian children’s show Picapau Amarelo website.

Not ideal for feeling like Cuca if you’re trying to do a sexy roleplay scene, is it? But it was the wig we had for that day, so we just had to make do with it. We had already tried on the wig during pre-production, and it wasn’t supposed to look natural. In fact, we felt the bigger the contrast between Giovana and Cuca — sorry, Giovana and Sabrina, her role-playing alter ego — the better.

As they got their makeovers in the dressing room, Renata and Eduardo discussed the extreme things couples sometimes end up doing after many years together. In the case of their characters, it was only five years – but five years without seeing anyone else in person, without ever having the house to themselves, without even opening the windows to get some fresh air.

So they came back… acting like crazy. It was the Cuca wig, their conversation about monogamy and long-term sex, and the fact that I said they were now in the fifth year of the pink cloud being there… “But Iuli, after five years, they would become savages, destroying the apartment, acting like animals! Five years! five years is manyTheir energy was much more restless than normal. I said that this overreaction was certainly a possibility after five years, but that I thought that Giovana and Yago were still trying to adapt, trying to strengthen their relationship by exploring this new activity… without destroying the apartment. At least not yet!

We started shooting. In the script, Giovana and Yago’s conversation goes to strange and dark places for their roleplay, and then they kiss. On the first take, they delivered the dialogue really well, but the kiss was so weird it was almost comical. No problem, it was just a matter of toning it down! So I approached Renata and Eduardo to discuss some adjustments for the next take. Turns out Renata was gone – it was Cuca’s day. I couldn’t get a word out. Cuca spoke rapidly in a very agitated manner, refusing to change anything or lower his voice. “But FIVE YEARS is a LOT!” It was our tenth day of shooting and the communication had been great so far.

After more takes and more weird kisses, I checked in with the AD, DP, and set designer (none of whom are prudish on kissing scenes), asking, “Am I crazy? Is this kiss really sexy? They all said, “No, kissing is too much, it’s getting funny and weird.” Of course, the camera has the power to amplify everything, or hide things when desired. But we just knew that in this setting, in this scene, the crazy kiss didn’t work.

Somehow, there were even more weird kisses. And there was more Cuca exploding when I tried to intervene. I let a few more takes. And then I asked – almost begged – the actors to trust me on this one, and that we needed a more restrained version of the kiss. They did it. Maybe they were tired from the takes. This kiss is the one we used in the movie. And thank God that was the last scene of the day, because how could I have continued directing Cuca and Cuco?

When I got home, I called my DA and said working with Renata was a blessing, but if Cuca was planning to stay with us until the end of filming, we would need a new strategy. .. and I had no idea what it should be. She told me to call Renata. I called her. She was at home, no longer wearing the wig, but still with the Cuca energy. We chatted civilly for a while and I tried to explore how to communicate with Cuca, but I still wasn’t quite sure how to get things back to normal.

The day after filming began. what to do, what to do? Baby! It was baby who saved me. She had asked me to lend her my yoga mat so she could do a few poses or breathe between scenes whenever she felt like it. (Her own mat was in another city.) We had worked together before and it was always great, but she almost didn’t take the job because she had had stressful experiences on other sets. Bernardo Zortea, our production designer, had convinced her to take the job, saying that the team was nice, the film was almost entirely shot in one apartment and that it would be an exciting but serene experience. So, in addition to makeup, tools and wigs, Baby had all her “peace guns” in the dressing room: yoga mat, incense, zen soundtrack on her phone, good smells, thermal water and good vibes. Mariane, the costume designer, was also lovely and calm company.

Renata de Lélis on the set of The pink cloud.

At breakfast, I approached Baby and asked, “Could you maybe help me with Renata today?” She was restless last night and I wish she was in balance again. Baby said she had an idea what to do. We had our breakfasts and I went to check the call sheet with the DA and the lighting with the DP Some time later, I went to see how things were going with the actors in the dressing room. I opened the door and immediately heard the sound of a harp. It was from a zen soundtrack emanating from Baby’s phone. The incense next to the mirror formed a softer, calmer cloud than the pink in the film. It smelled good. Renata was in the makeup chair, receiving reiki from Baby. Her eyes were closed and she was as relaxed as a person can be. Apart from the sound of harps, the room was in total silence. Neither Renata nor Baby looked at me when I opened the door. They were both very focused. I felt like I was invading a sacred space. I closed the door softly and thought, “I love it baby.”

Baby Marques and Iuli Gerbase on the set of The pink cloud.

When Renata came on set for the first scene of the day, Cuca was gone. Baby had sent her away. Renata’s conclusion after some thoughts on the subject: “It was the wig.”

Now when Renata and I text, the Cuca sticker is one of our favorites.

About Johanna Gooding

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