“Quartet” is a film about people in an open relationship and the need to make decisions that will affect everyone involved deeply. As producer of the film, Rafael Thomaseto is an expert at making decisions which resonate throughout the production. The role of producer is perhaps one of the most eclectic in film and TV. While the parameters of cast and crew are clearly defined and established, a producer is equal portions business executive, think-tank member, and artist. These professionals both create the environment in which the “creatives” practice their wares and give advice/input on direction. It’s the perfect example of the left brain/right brain approach. Under the guiding hand of Rafael, “Quartet” received great attention; including a premier as an Official Selection at the Short Film Corner Cannes 2016. This recognition was hard fought and won as the film experienced a number of precarious obstacles during both preproduction and filming. “Quartet” was very nearly not made; Thomaseto would earn every bit of his title as producer for the film about a very modern and uncomfortable situation.
“Quartet” is the story of Simon, Anna, and Liam. The trio is a part of a free polyamorous relationship. When Frederique (Anna's new love interest) shows up unexpectedly to their home, his presence causes an immediate rift in the balanced dynamic. Simon needs to explore what he is willing to sacrifice to hold on to the ones he loves. Due to the subject matter and intimate nature of the relationships, Rafael and writer/director Helena Sardinha did a much more extensive casting than is normally needed. Once they had found the perfect four actors to portray this polyamorous relationship, there were extensive rehearsals. In a movie such as this which contained nudity, sex scenes, and a heavy dialogue script, it was essential for the actors to create an emotional bond with each other. Adding to the potentially volatile nature of this situation was the fact that three days before shooting began, the main actor dropped out and broke his contract leaving the production. As a producer, Rafael found another replacement on his own; one whom he felt would fit ideally into the cast…which he did. Sardinha has worked with Thomaseto a number of times and was able to focus on other aspects with full confidence in him. She professes, “In the filmmaking business, having a good and reliable producer is a must to succeed during the creation, development, and distribution of your piece. Meeting Rafael Thomaseto was a moment of transformation in my career that I hope lasts forever. From the first time I worked with him, I was able to fully trust in him and he became my right hand on all of my following projects. From fictional movies, to music videos and commercials, Rafael presents a vast number of skills such as organization, responsibility, vision, and communication, proactivity and good execution. Just as the actors rely on me to think ahead and have a plan with several contingencies as their director, so do I rely on Rafael…and he never disappoints.”
When Helena wanted a Brooklyn/NYC vibe to the film, Thomaseto found it for her in DTLA’s Arts District. Arts District DTLA has grown immensely in the last few years and has transformed from an industrial area into the hipster/artist place to be. Many feel that this upcoming neighborhood is the city’s future. The filmmakers felt a connection to this as the story investigates a relationship between four people and requires an open-mindedness to fully connect with it. The vibe of this conveys the artistic and contemporary people who would take part in it. Rafael felt that the energy of the Arts District was intoxicating as he states, “Helena and I probably went to the district every week once or twice: for the galleries, the bars, and the restaurants. We had a connection with it. Helena had a clear vision where she saw the characters living in a place like this. Even during filming, we decided to sleep at the location through all the days of the shoot. We would sleep on the bed that was part of the set, discussing the schedule and creative thoughts; we would wake up preparing breakfast and activities Helena could do with the actors to improve their performance, or we would forget our professional bond for a few minutes and we would gossip about funny things that happened on set. It was what you might call “method production.”
A story about millennials in a modern polyamorous romance is confusing enough; the behind the scenes modern nature of the location filming and storyline led to further potential problems for the production. Using a modern approach, Thomaseto found the perfect downtown/urban apartment for the set by using Airbnb. This allowed them to find precisely what fit their desires at a much more affordable price (a welcome benefit to any producer) in a much more concise manner. When the artists who were living there began prohibiting the cast and crew from accessing parts of the domicile, Rafael dug deep with his persuasion skills to keep the production rolling and on schedule. The cast would only accept being fully naked on set if the crew was kept to a minimum when shooting the scenes. However, shooting in a big loft where everything was open was challenging when dealing with a crew and somewhat difficult renters. Vigilance and fast footwork enabled Rafael and his team to meet these needs and create a safe environment for the cast.
The acceptance of the film more than speaks for its positive results. Quartet received recognitions/awards at: Women’s Only Entertainment Film Festival 2016, Largo Film Awards, L.A. Short Awards April 2016, Los Angeles CineFest, and the previously mentioned Short Film Corner Cannes 2016. Thomaseto notes, “I went to Cannes myself. Making sure people were watching it, talking about it, handling P&A for the film were part of my day to day during the twelve days I was there. At a festival where you can find the best group of filmmakers in the world, trying to be successful with your film is a hard. I saw this as a great opportunity to step up and get recognition for the hard work I did to make this project happen, and also use the opportunity of a place like Cannes, where big producers in Hollywood are having dinner next to you, to introduce myself. It can be easy to get caught up in the fame and excitement that is Cannes but at some point you have to step out of yourself and realize that your work was chosen to be there alongside household names. The duality of the situation is surreal. The best way for me to make peace with it is to remember the struggles of creating this film that I am so proud of it. It helps you feel that you are truly earning your place through your work.”