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An Interview with Luis E. Saavedra, Head of Altair Films

by Dale Pierce

July 2010

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How long has Altair Films been in operation?


I created this company in 2006 with the purpose of offering pre-production services for TV and Film projects.


The company is located in Chile. Is there a big film industry in Chile or in South America as a whole?


I think Chile doesn't have a strong industry since most of the things that you see on TV are copies of shows from other countries, and regarding film, there is an uprising of independent genre films. We are behind our neighbours from Argentina for example, they have a tradition in filmmaking and you can see that in TV and films, good stories. But I also believe that we used to have a tradition in film that was oppressed by the dictatorship in 1973, most artists and filmmakers had to leave the country for political reason.s


Altair is also looking to expand releases into the English market?


Yes, acctually we are producing an animation TV show called Altair and the Light of Power, an adventure/scifi/fantasy show, and it is intended for the US market.


You all produce mainly science fiction film?


We have for a time, but now we are into documentary films, we are producing one in the Antartica which looks incredible.


What are some of your releases and plots for them?


Altair and the Light of Power, animation: The planet has frozen due to severe climate changes, and humanity has been confined to live in mega dome constructions. In the old shell of the city lives Altair, a young adventurous mechanic and the only human who has survived 8 days buried in a snowstorm.

One night he meets an old outcast that gives him a strange light that seems to be alive and tells him that it is part of his destiny. At that moment Altair finds himself chased by Octavia, leader of the Watch-guardians and right hand of the Supreme Order-architects and owners of the cities, who want to possess the secret power of the light and avoid the return of the ecological order driving the destiny of humanity at all costs.

Altair, with the help of his courageus friend Celephais, must escape from the claws of the Supreme Order and discover the true power of the light, finding that his destiny is to restore the natural order, bringing back life and peace to the planet.


Last Days: live action: Gabriel Torreblanca, a young detective, tries to solve the biggest case of his life - a series of murders of young girls at historical sites of the city. He joins forces with a hidden army called Karma Police, which investigates crimes committed in past lives and is secretly supported by the State. Gabriel starts to work for the KP and discovers that the events are part of a terrifying plan that must be stopped: the end of the world.


Kren, animation: A nine year old boy gets lost in the streets of his city running away from a gang. Through a dark alley, he arrives in a strange world ruled by four races of man-animals and they have been at war through centuries for water, motor of their lives and technology. Kren holds a secret power that will become a hope for all races to bring a new era of peace and balance.


Zombie (this is a book that we are going to turn it into a movie, just got the deal to produce it.) A dark crater, a suburb and a forest. A small comunity of teenagers live from the ashes and ruins of history. Some of them act as if nothing happend but some seek comfort in a new drug.


Is there a web page or a Facebook for your company?


Yes, for our company, for a short scifi film, for the animation TV show, and, a company that me a two partners formed with the purpose of bringing TV and Film contents from Chile to and US market. We participated in the American Film Market in Santa Mónica last year, and this year we are going again with an office. Another one is, it's in development but it is a company that offers rendering services for 3D.

Facebook for Altairfilms: Altairfilms Chile

Facebook for Cinema from Chile: Cinema from Chile


Future plans?


Right now we are centered in gathering projects from Chilean filmmakers, take them to the AFM 2010 and try to sell scripts, trailer, etc. At the same time we have different projects in pre-production for future development.

We are working also with a company from the US called Jigsaw Global, and we are bringing them to Chile next month to a seminar on media for TV and film projects.


What is your background? Did you study film in school or learn on your own?


When I was in high school I used to draw comic books and sell them to my friends and teachers and I guess that my interest in that comes from my grandfather who used to give me comicbooks, from Marvel and DC superheroes,Will Eisner's The Spirit, Moebius, Mad Magazine and many others.

After that I spent one year in Santa Clara, California, Wilcox High School, did my senior year, and that gave me the oportunity to discover a new world, in terms of society and arts, I used to take the train to San Francisco and visit the museum.

When I came back I studied Architecture for two years and then Industrial Design. I didn't go to film school but after I graduted from Industrial Design I had the oportunity to make my first animation short film, and from that I got obssessed with the medium, the power of images and sound. After that I had more oportunities to keep working in this.


Chile has a lot of earthquakes. Did your studio suffer any damage in the big quake they had a while ago?


Well, it was a pretty hard earthquake, very apocalyptic, our studio had all of the screens on the ground, bookshelf destroyed but luckily no data was lost, which was the most important thing! We have a lot of information around from projects so I was relieved when I found out there was no problem with our servers.


Do you plan to expand beyond science fiction or just remain with this genre of film?


Documentary films are very interesting for me, and I think there is a lot of information and stories to tell from Chile, folklore, Patagonian cowboys, indigenous stories, etc.


Who are some of the actors and actresses you have used?


The most well-known is Sebastián Longhi, an actor that got popular on a reality TV show. The funny thing is that I knew him since he was 11 years old.


Do you have any interesting behind the scenes stories to tell in your film career?


Production in danger:

3371 was shot in a place near Viña Mar called Mantagua, which is a place of dunes that grow along the sea shore. Our production assistant went to City Hall to request the documents to use the dunes as location ,but they said that we have to ask the owners. At this time that was someone who owned a Motel that we used as base camp. They charge us a certain amount of money for the right to work in the dunes. We paid and we started our production with no problems.

The second day of shooting a jeep aproach edat very fast speed and suddenly it stops very near our cameraman. A man gets out of the jeep and starts to scream at us and demands us to stop everything because this was his land and he did not want anyone to be there unless we paid him a vey high amount of money. We explained him that we had already paid to someone. Very angry he said that he was calling the police because this was ilegal and he was the real owner. I started to argue with him at a very high voice and then he left to look for the police. The producer went to talk to him for about 30 minutes. He explained that this was not a TV Spot and that we did not have any more money to pay him. At the end he understood but wanted to sue the man that charged us the money. Apparently the motel owner didn't have any right over the dunes.


Small world:

When I was 22 I had a girlfriend and we were together for 4 years. At that time I became close to her 11 years old brother because he was very interested in music and I used to show him movies and music to listen to, most of them art movies, sci-fi, and rock music. But then we took different paths in our lives and I did not see her or her brother for a while. 2 years later I turn on the TV and I see her brother in this reallity show about artists who want to became famous in music, it lasted for about 3 months. I met him on the street one day with his new TV career begining, and he told me that he was going to go to Spain for a year to study theatre. A year later I met him again in Chile and he was looking for a job. I told him about the 3371 project and he wanted to be in it from the beginning. His enthusiasm showed me that he was right for this part. I still keep in touch with his sister from time to time.


What are your other interests besides film?


I really enjoy music, from Bob Dylan to Iron Maiden, from Mozart to Rush, from George Harrison to Electric Light Orchestra, soundtracks from movies. Playing guitar is another interest, a nice acoustic guitar on a winter day makes the moment.

Reading is a great inspiration; Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Gabriel Garcia Marques, Phillp K. Dick, Brian Aldis, H.P. Lovecraft, Hugo Silva, Edgar Allan Poe, Luis Borges, many others


Anything else to add to this?


I feel very lucky about going into filmmaking, I work with my friends, musicians, photographers, artists, directors - this is a great enviroment to work in, that makes me feel that I'm moving forward into new projects.


Closing comments?

Strange as it sounds but I don't feel that I'm really working, I feel more like I'm playing, the same feeling I had when I was kid and I was out there disguised as a soldier in the forest playing commando!


Thanks for the interview!


Thanks for the oportunity of expressing my opinions about this!


© by Dale Pierce

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On the same day
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