Set Warriors, La Nacion article April 7, 2018
Julie Echeverri and Sara Rossi are the "Ticas" behind Film Support, a service production company that promotes the country as a location for film, TV and fashion productions worldwide.
Sara and Julie sell Costa Rica to the world.
Features, TV series, realities, documentaries, photo shoots and TV commercials for prestigious brands are part of the work catalog of these two friends and producers.
Heavenly beaches, thick lush jungle, exuberant fauna and the essence of "Pura Vida" which Costa Rica is known for internationally have been fundamental allies for Sara Rossi and Julie Echeverri's daily work. They are the faces behind Costa Rica Film Support- that will soon change its name to Film Support- a service production company that promotes the colorful landscapes of our country as locations for fashion and for the big screen.
Rossi created the company about 15 years ago, motivated by the desire to promote the beauty of Costa Rica to the world. Taking advantage of her film experience unleashed by her nomadic work-life that allowed her to live in Italy (where she was born) Morocco and Argentina (where she lived for 3 years working on film projects), the Italian-CostaRican developed this project. "I married, had my daughter (Emma) and placed the project on stand-by until two years ago." Rossi comments.
It was precisely at the end of 2016 when the duo decided to associate and reactivate Film Support. Since then, the duo works non-stop, combining their professional facets with those of mothers and wives, a hurdle they both had to deal with to find their space in the industry.
"Sara and I have known each other for many years. Once she mentioned a service production company that she had kept 'sleeping' and asked me if I wanted to take it and reactivate it, but nothing came of it. In December 2016, I called her and asked her if the proposal was still relevant, so we decided to create an alliance. We stated very clear intentions for the New Year (2017), infused with lots of light and positive energy and we had not even finished when we already had eight budget requests awaiting us" , resumes Julie.
From there, Film Support strenghtened and gained liveliness to the point where it currently ranks between the 5 main production service companies that bring these types of productions to the country, states Jose Castro, from the film commission.
FRUITFUL ALLIANCE. So far a dozen foreign film productions have taken place in the country under the Film Support leadership and seal. The TV series "Human Nature" stands out, which explores sustainability and environmental protection, and whose pilot episode was filmed in Costa Rica January 2017. Chris Soules, star of The Bachelor and Dancing with the Stars was the face of this program, shot in Finca Rosa Blanca in Barrio Jesus de Santa Barbara de Heredia, Guacalillo beach, Tarcoles, the Ciudad Colon Farmers Market and in a sustainable housing proyect in Perez Zeledon.
Following this project, Sara and Julie withdrew themselves for various months in the rainforest of Sarapiqui to produce scenes for the feature "The Last Full Measure", a Todd Robinson drama that tells the story of Airman William H. Pitsenbarger Jr., a young American who, 34 years after his death is awarded the nations highest military honor for his actions on the battlefield in the Vietnam war. The film stars Sebastian Stan , Samuel L. Jackson, Ed Harris, William Hurt and Christopher Plummer amongst others. From the cast Stan and John Savage filmed in the country.
This feature film was a big challenge for us but the executive producer tells us the scenes shot here look spectacular. It has been the biggest project we have worked on so far, we are talking Hollywood, the highest leagues! "More than 50 crew and cast members arrived from abroad for this shoot" comments Julie Echeverri about this project, that will be released next October, to be considered for the 2019 nominations.
Sara and Julie mentioned that the second part of the film was supposed to be shot in the country but for financial issues it did not return. "We had to recreate the Vietnam war, we had helicopters ready, we have been the only ones so far to obtain permits to import period weapons from the United States (4 months of permitting) , we had more than 100 Asian extras, the sets where the soldiers would camp where being built. The foreign production company, for financial issues did not return to film the second part." says 36 year old Julie Echeverri.
Another jobs they have influenced so far is the ABC documentary Ocean Trek with Jeff Corwin, Sara and Julie produced the Costa Rica and the Nicaragua episodes. Last December they shot with the BBC in London a documetary on sea turtles in Ostional (Guanacaste) and they also filmed an episode for the Food Network and they were the local producers for The Bachelor Canada in Tamarindo, Guanacaste. Film Support has also been crucial on advertising campaigns like Rolex ( a bold photo shoot on the La Paz waterfalls with supermodel Mini Anden) and Chopard (a TV commercial for the perfume with the Romanian model Andrea Diaconu). Currently they are budgeting another feature film but they don't want to share details as negotiations are under way.
PURA VIDA VALUES. On the fructiferous results they have had they both mentioned important values that define their company. "We are very clear on our intentions. On set, before each shoot, we always give a motivational talk to our crew (hired by our production service company) with the idea that everyone works with love, joy and happiness during filming. We want foreigners to experience what the real 'Pura Vida' is in Costa Rica" says Sara. To this they add a meditation session that Julie and Sara complete together before their day begins on set " to allow us to work from a space of love, abundance and affection" and the sincerity and openness they speak with as they get hired for each job. There is also a great deal of environmental resposibility involved in their projects.
On a set managed by Sara and Julie there is no plastic being used and when they wrap a location they make sure there is no trash left and that it is left better and cleaner than how they found it. They are conscious that the sustainability of the country depends on the success of their work, that is why protecting the environment is fundamental to them before, during and after a shoot. Another variable that distinguishes them from other local production service companies is that they are two women, working in an industry mainly dominated by men.
"As adult women, as mothers, we are very empowered professionals. We both have a lot of experience and we have gained the respect from all our colleagues." commented Sara, 46 years old who leads the Atlanta office. "Its' a warrioress empowerment, that's why I often wear camouflage clothing." Julie lives in Liberia, Guanacaste where she leads the administrative part of the company, but when its time to call out "action!" she leaves her office clothes and gets dressed for set.
"The word warrioress is very useful in our world because we accept all types of jobs in whatever time of the year. If we have to film on December 24th, my daughters (Victoria and Isabel) and my husband understand that Christmas presents will be opened later." says Julie. They both consider their husbands' role fundamental to their success: they encourage them as professional women in the film industry. Sara and Julie speak of themselves with pride and feel accomplished in many realms of their lives, sending a message to all women that: when you want, you can.
Now they claim for other things that go beyond their gender: a film law that allows the country to be more competitive than it has ever been. " So far we don't have tax incentives in Costa Rica but we have lots of advantages as a country, which is what we have been promoting: professional bilingual crews, safety and security, the ease of international flights and two international airports, the accessibility to travel from the Caribbean to the Pacific coast in a day, and to be on a beautiful beach or on a volcano in a matter of hours. That ease of movement is what we sell a lot" concluded Julie Echeverri.
In hopes that the country strenghtens its film legislation, these two passionate producers are now thinking to internationalize the company and be role models to empower women to find fulfillment and purpose in their lives, something they foster with each "ACTION!" that resonates on the film sets they work on.