July 7, 2022 – 11:32 am
The eldest of four children from a very strong Italian-Lebanese matriarchal family, Paula Trabulsi says she never liked the middle ground. “I have always been a root and a cosmopolitan at the same time. I have a big coat, but I can read clouds and herd animals. All I didn’t want was the medium. I’m either in a super metropolis or in the bush.”
There is also no middle ground in her career: the high exposure of her early years gave way to a successful performance behind the scenes, as a director of audiovisual productions. If today she does not like to appear, the beginning of her professional trajectory, as the presenter of the news program of the current EPTV Campinas, a subsidiary of Glob, passing through Jornal Hoje and TV Globinho, helps to answer why. “I was signing autographs on the street at 19, but I was blindsided and hit my face young enough to want to get off camera and go behind them. I also understood actual encounters and how to have the tenderness to have them,” says the CEO.
After management experience, she continued to work in large advertising agencies and production houses until she founded her own company, Bossa Nova Filmes, in 2005, where she remained CEO until 2014. With the increase in investment and expansion of the company’s plan for Through entertainment projects, Paula felt that it was time to do what she believed in: to support the production of films, commercial or not, that inspire and provide deeper thought. This is how the Asas collective was born.
Asas started as a producer of audiovisual projects, and today it has positioned itself as an international collective of creative intelligence that helps brands, projects and people build content for media languages that go beyond screens and big screens. The company accumulates national and global productions in its portfolio, such as Father, Guga Kuerten (2013); Bottle alley (2015); Marias (2016); An uncertain place of desire (2019) and #AsMulheresQueMeHabitam (2021).
“Our work is deep, we are not looking for volume. We live in the moment of ‘fat media’, where we have a lot of content around us, but most of it does not feed us, but only serves to make us fat. Therefore, we exist to create multi-narrative projects that inspire and move society to more sustainable, plural and diverse places. We are the nucleus of resistance”, he comments.
Paula was one of the first directors of advertising films in Brazil, and the first in Mexico. He has directed more than 2000 commercials for advertisers such as Unilever, Honda, McDonald’s, Itaú, Shell, Petrobras, Perdigão, among others, and won his first Lion at Cannes with the film “Bye Bye Love”, agency DM9DDB for Dunkin’ Krafne , in 1991.
With her extensive resume and several national and international awards, she came to a conclusion: gaps in purposeful opportunities are what interests her in business. The head of the production company says that she has the autonomy to identify consumer needs that have not yet been explored in the market and that are aligned with the values of the collective. For this, he relies on great intuition and the practice of constantly looking at the other.
“I came here because I observed very carefully where those cracks were, and my intuition became my most refined and sharpest tool. As we mature, it becomes more accurate. I like to learn from others. I’m determined, but I’m not the stubborn type who doesn’t look the other way. I like that the other one makes me change my mind and adds.”
An example of Paula’s violation is Constanza and Marilu, a YouTube success featuring interactions between Italian businesswoman and fashion consultant Constanza Pascolato and Argentinian plastic artist Marilu Beer, a friendship that dates back to the 60s. Meetings bring many reckless, spontaneous and inspiring conversations. Launched in 2013, the series of mini-episodes was Asas’ first project and already carried this view of the meeting between market opportunity and purpose.
“Nobody was talking about age demographics yet, but we were there, identifying what was trending now and the important consumer profile. I remember thinking: ‘Where are the wise women?’, and in the conversation with Mônica Waldvogel, Constanza and Marilu I thought: ‘How delicious this conversation is, I wanted my sisters to hear this. I wanted my family to hear it… in fact, I wanted everyone to hear it.’ And then it hit the spot. Then they asked me if I would really bet on a show with only two old women, if I wouldn’t put a young woman in the middle”, he recalls.
FROM THE SCREEN TO THE PALM
According to Paula, audiovisuals have changed profoundly since the beginning of her career, especially since we started consuming video content on mobile phones. “Before, the picture was the place of craftsmen, those who rewind the film. A lot of money was needed to produce advertisements. Every three and a half minutes cans were billed in dollars and ‘woe to you’ if you didn’t get it right. It was very strong in the movies. In the transition from film to video, there was already a change in the way images were created, but when video began to fall on mobile phones, it became the de facto language, and today it dominates the world. After that, everyone became content producers,” he says.
The filmmaker also connects audiovisuals with sociology: “It is one of the most profound things that has happened sociologically in the world.” Today, we communicate and produce images, and at the same time we read subjectivities that we did not read before. The subtlety, abstraction and detail that already integrates our mind with this change is amazing. You can compose yourself.”
Paula is also a partner in the Petra Belas Artes cinema in São Paulo, since the reopening of the great audiovisual cultural icon of the capital. She was invited by André Sturm, who was looking for someone to invest in. This coincided with the period when she left Bossa Nova Filmes and wanted to have an important cultural investment.
MATURITY WITH PURPOSE
Between her hometown of Campinas, São Paulo and her grandfather’s farm in the Pantanal, where she went at least four times a year in her youth, Paula created the basis for her irreverent, curious and profound personality. Amidst laughter, tears and long pauses for reflection, she recounts what it was like to be on the front lines as a female ad filmmaker in Brazil, but her emotion seems to well up even as she talks about where her desire lives today: to accelerate human purpose for through humanitarian projects.
Purpose is back on the agenda again. As for the executive director, she seems to cross business and personal life: “I started this year with the following question: what legacy do we want to leave beyond our existence? To answer this question, we need to think about a time far beyond our time and consider daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters to understand how we can achieve a more equal society,” he says.
She does her part. She is a member of three female Brazilian audiovisual groups and participates in Jewish and Arab groups. The most important thing, he says, is to defend the possibility of professional women being present in the industry. “Our fight is for more women to be on stage, behind and in front of the camera. We need directors, screenwriters, actresses and producers. We must have a sisterhood and strengthen each other, because pain is like age. And it’s amazing how long it takes. Changes are still very difficult to make, even in 2022.”
But the director faces a mission beyond the feminine. “The challenges of the world are becoming more and more terrible, because we are failing. There is a lot of pain. I feel that we are in a period of fog, an emotional pandemic. Therefore, we have to accept more and more social projects. Of course, we cannot do everything, but it is possible to contribute. And companies play an important role in this, because institutions and governments are not keeping up,” he says.
DESIRE AND CURIOUS
Speaking of regrets, Paula says that her “compulsive curiosity” sometimes got in the way of her personal and family life. “I am constantly learning, in search of knowledge and things that I can collect, and I do it with great voraciousness. My curiosity is almost obsessive. And I don’t say this with pride, because this imbalance made me behave with my family, with my loves and friends in a way that I would do differently now. Today I try to find a balance.”
Unaware of this, Paula may have another answer to her compulsion when she comments on the difference between the hero’s and heroine’s journeys, which is the theme of the project. Desire linethe unfolding of the documentary An uncertain place of desire, directed by her. “When we talk about that path for man, he has to go through several challenges. The female heroine’s journey, in contrast, is about fulfilling someone else’s desires before her own. But empowering her desires is liberating and a fundamental key to a society with equality. Therefore, our question in this paper is: what did you leave behind to be who you are?”
Curious, purposeful and with a keen eye for the corner of people that no one notices, Paula seems like she has never given up on her desires throughout her life, whether in front of or behind the camera. “I am a sapiosexual [atração sexual ou romântica por pessoas inteligentes]. I am seduced by the intelligence of another.”