The Cabo Verde International Film Festival (CVIFF) is being held on the island of Sal, October 16 to 19, and as always will attract film submissions from around the globe.
And this year, filmmaker, producer, writer Mike Costa will not only be a jury member, but also moderate one of the various panels at CVIFF.
Costa, who is of Cabo Verdean heritage, is a major Hollywood player. Not long after graduating from the University of Nevada in Reno, he was chosen to participate in the highly selective Guy Alexander Hanks/Marvin Miller Screenwriting Program sponsored by Bill Cosby and the USC School of Cinema-Television.
Later, Costa worked as a staff writer/story editor/producer for the hit television show ?Roseanne,? moving on to write for Warner Brothers television on several projects including the first season of the hit series, ?The Steve Harvey Show.? He also was a writer on ?The Gregory Hines Show? pilot (Sony Television).
Costa also worked for NBC?s ?In The House? starring L.L. Cool J, where he went from writer to producer.
Now, he freelances as a writer/producer for Isis Films, which produces music videos and commercials for some of the industry?s biggest names such as Time-Warner Corporation, Miller Brewing Company, Motown, Warner Brothers and General Motors.
He also just completed a documentary film, Proud to be Cape Verdean ? A Look at Cape Verdeans in the Golden State, which he wrote, produced and directed through his production company, Side Door Entertainment. He is currently in pre-production with ?The Heart of Porto Novo,? a love story that takes place on the picturesque Cape Verdean island of Santo Ant?o.
Costa also helped start a non-profit called Cape Verdeans of Southern California.
Mike Costa talked to TNJ.com about Hollywood, Cabo Verde, and the CVIFF.
TNJ.com: What do you enjoy most about working in Hollywood?
Mike Costa: I love Hollywood because it’s like the island of misfit toys–a mixed bag of characters. It is truly a place where anyone can achieve the American dream.
TNJ.com: There seems to be a growing number of Cabo Verdean Americans in Hollywood, especially behind the scenes. Is this so?
MC: Yes. There is a growing number of Cabo Verdianos in front of the camera and behind: cinematographer Todd Dos Reis; director Bobby Holland; producer Anthony Flores; stunt coordinator Manny Perry; actors Michael Beach, Carlitos Dosouto, Anika Noni Rose, and Chelsea Tavares, to name a few. We’re here and we’ve been making strides everyday for our people and we’re proud of it.
TNJ.com: What have been some challenges you have faced in getting work in Hollywood and how have you overcome them?
MC: One of the biggest obstacles is that being Cabo Verdean means you belong to a smaller demographic; you’re not as readily identifiable like Jewish, Italian, Hispanic, Asian or African American. It’s a tough nut to crack but we’re making strides.
TNJ.com: Tell me more about your latest project.
MC: My last project, the first under my shingle, Side Door Entertainment – a documentary – “Proud to be Cape Verdean: A Look a Cape Verdeans in the Golden State” was widely received within the Cabo Verdean diaspora. My next project is a full length feature film titled – “The Heart of Porto Novo.” It?s a story that revolves around a young man?s coming of age and the strength of family life. It also addresses the complex issue of Cabo Verde?s growth as a nation while aiming to retain its rich cultural identity. These core values readily translate into every day experiences that many people around the globe understand, which can be the basis for an audience’s immediate identification with a film. The Heart of Porto Novo is the type of film that, hopefully, will attract an international audience.
TNJ.com: What led you to get involved in this year’s Cabo Verde International Film Festival (CVIFF)?
CM: Suely Neves and Peter Da Silva extended an invitation for me to be on the jury for the 5th annual CVIFF and I accepted. I’ve known about the CVIFF for some years now. My film, PTBCV, filmed here two years ago. They’re doing some good work here. I’m glad it’s gaining worldwide popularity. What better festival to attend for a Cabo Verdian – It’s like coming home.
TNJ.com: Why is the CVIFF important in your opinion?
MC: I think the CVIFF is important because Sal Island is the perfect backdrop for an international film festival. Sal is exotic, a cultural melting pot and it has an international airport – important ingredients for an international film festival.
TNJ.com: The panel you will moderate will address the need of a film commission in CV. Why is this so important?
MC: Cabo Verde needs a film commission which would go hand in hand with its tourism initiative. Filmmakers from all over the world should be making films here – taking advantage of the beautiful vistas, beaches, culture, people etc… A film commission will help Cabo Verde grow and make it competitive as a world-class destination. ? ?
TNJ.com: Do you think Cabo Verde is overlooked as a film location? If so, why? And how can this change?
MC: I think the word is getting out. What I’ve seen here makes me believe that Cabo Verde has become the African Riviera. I see a lot of Europeans here already. Hopefully in the near future more Americans, which is home to about 500,000 Cabo Verdeans, will flock to this North Atlantic paradise which is home to the ancestral forefathers and mothers.