From the time Melina Tupa was a child, born in Brazil and raised in Argentina, she always loved film. She says even from that young age she was a “film buff.” As she grew, the passion intensified, and she found her way to producing. For her, producing was a way to be involved in all aspects of filmmaking, the very thing she had spent so many years captivated by. Now, years have passed, and she is recognized as one of Brazil’s best producers.
With an extraordinary reputation in making documentary films, Tupa has shown the world why she is one to watch. Her work on the Frontline film Rape on the Night Shift not only impacted critics, but lawmakers as well, and was an inspiration for a bill to protect night shift janitors from sexual abuse in California. Her documentary The Search, telling the story of a grandmother’s search for her long-lost grandchild, went on to be shown at many of the world’s most prestigious film festivals. There is no doubt that she is exceptionally talented, and she encourages others to follow in her footsteps, and offers her advice.
“First of all, you have to be a good person and a hardworking person. The documentary filmmaking industry is pretty small and if you handle yourself with grace and do a good job people will most likely recommend you for other productions. I would also say that you have to be resilient, sociable, a multitasker and always be in a good mood,” she advised.
However, Tupa is not only a documentary filmmaker. Her producing talents extend far beyond that, making her extremely versatile. While working with Turner Broadcasting System, one of the most important media conglomerates in the world, she produced both shows and segments for Fashion TV, which was later rebranded as Glitz*.
“Working on Turner was great. Since it is a TV channel with daily shows, it was a super fast-paced environment. Problems came up by the minute and as a producer it was my job to solve them fast and make the shows run smoothly,” Tupa described.
Due to her previous success with NonStop TV, another producer with Turner reached out to Tupa to join the team. They knew of Tupa’s reputation, and knew they needed someone with her talent to help make the project a continued success. Maria Prata, who is now a TV Host for Globo News but was Tupa’s Editor-in-Chief at Fashion TV during her time at Turner, describes Tupa as a competent, focused, and dedicated person.
“Melina was part of my production team on Turner's Fashion TV channel. She was a producer. She was always in a good mood and ready to help. She is the kind of person you just want to have on your team. Working with her is always a pleasure. Melina is interesting, curious and likes what she does. In my opinion, those are the three fundamental elements to define a good professional. She always wants to learn more, to do more and to do it better,” said Prata.
For the three years Tupa worked with Turner and Fashion TV, she was a part of several successful programs. These included: On Top, a ranking of the top-ten spots, the best of the world of entertainment, chosen by audiences (the most spectacular bodies, the most scandalous divorces, the best-known productions, the most important actors), Nomes da Moda (Fashion Icons), a Brazilian series focused on the lives of essential characters and comprehensive aspects of the fashion world, Um dia Com (One Day With), a Brazilian series that shows a day in the life of a distinguished individual from the entertainment industry, Music Land, a TV Documentary that focused on the careers of bands or lead singers, Just Glitz, short formats that aired during commercial breaks and in between shows highlighting news from the cultural/entertainment scene, and Update, the weekly magazine show with news on the entertainment industry. The shows aired mainly in Brazil, but had different versions in nearly every Latin American country. Many of these shows would air because of Tupa’s work. She overviewed the scheduling of the show, wrote the scripts, and worked with the editors to ensure the show had the best quality possible.
“I liked that I got to overview the show from the beginning to end. I had a lot of responsibility and had to work together with a team of producers, editors, promo producers,” Tupa concluded. “It was an incredible experience. Many of the shows aired in almost every country in Latin America. People watched the channel for news or entertainment and being part of that industry was a great honor for me.”
Photo: Melina Tupac shooting her documentary The Search, photo by Fabiola Leyva