Screenwriter, Director Jean Pierre d’Alençon Gutiérrez on his latest project “Thief”

Jean Pierre d’Alençon Gutiérrez was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. He began studying composition and orchestration at Academia S’cordatura and the prestigious Conservatorio de Chile. A few years later, he began his studies in film scoring at the renowned Berklee College of Music in Boston, from where he graduated in 2011.

In the years to follow, he began working as an orchestrator and composer for television shows, short-films, video-games and other visual media. It is during this time when he started diving into screenwriting and filmmaking.

Since then he has written and directed several short-films and documentaries in Chile, The United States and France, and has had the opportunity and the privilege to work with film-industry location managers, ADs and set decorators based in Boston, Massachusetts.

He currently resides in Paris, France, where he continues to create projects in which the social, political and human fiber of society can be addressed, exposed and understood.

NY Elite: Congratulations on being an ISC finalist. What does it mean for your work to be selected at the International Screenwriting Competition in New York?

Being selected as a finalist is a great surprise and quite an honor.  My script “Thief” was written at a moment of crisis in my life and therefore some of its themes are coming from a very personal experience. The fact that the story resonated with someone and was selected as a finalist at the ISC in New York makes me feel reassured of what I put on the page.

NY Elite: Can you tell us about the work that you participated with at ISC? What is the story about?

Thief is a story about two men. The first one is a pickpocket who survives by cheating the rules of society. He is someone who steals your wallet, goes to the address listed on your ID and breaks in. But he doesn’t just steal your things, he robs you of your identity. Until one day while he is pickpocketing the crowd during the Boston Marathon, two bombs explode near him and this event sends him into a downward spiral, questioning his code and his morality, and forces him to confront the increasing lack of meaning and purpose.

The second man is George, a therapist. If the pickpocket is an outsider, Geroge is the exact opposite. He’s a family man and an active and conscientious member of his community. But after his father’s suicide, and the fact that he wasn’t able to see it coming, he too is conflicted about the role he plays in society and the meaning of his life.

These two men, riddled with guilt, meet at the end. One who is left with no choice but to take his own life, while the other is yet again faced with the risk of suicide.

NY Elite: Can you tell us yourself and your artistic talents?

I was born and raised in Santiago, Chile. I come from a middle-class family where my parents worked really hard to provide us with a good education. My brother and I became the artistic side of the family. My brother is a writer in Chile; he also studied film directing and production. I had my education in Cinema at an early age thanks to him. I left Chile when I was 21 years old, and studied and worked in Boston for 12 years. I studied film-scoring and music composition at Berklee College of Music and collaborated with directors and musicians in a wide variety of projects. Later on, I started writing and directing short films of my own and I have been doing that for 6 years. Finally, after some time, I seem to have found a nice balance between music, writing and film.    

NY Elite: What scripts have you written so far?

La Canción es Esperanza, Fais Comme Chez Toi, Tone Dead are a few short films I’ve written. I’ve co-written a short film called The Entertainment and a TV show called The County Killings. Thief is my feature length script and currently I’m working on another feature size screenplay that deals with crime in Chile in the 80’s – during the dictatorship. There are many projects I am yet to develop: a romantic comedy I have in mind, or a story of obsession that deals with the music conservatory environment and self-destructive behavior. 

NY Elite: Top 3 favorite projects that you have been involved in?

Tone Dead and La Canción es Esperanza are two projects very dear to me. The first one, Tone Dead, is a horror-comedy I wrote and directed. It was my first experience working with actors and directing a movie with a crew of eleven people. It showed me how intense, but immensely fun making a movie can be. The latter, La Canción es Esperanza, is a story I wrote based on the police brutality that was taking place in Chile during the protest of 2019. My purpose with this film was to capture a general feeling of loss through one of the victims from the protest who had been permanently injured. I also wanted to capture the role that women and the feminist movement played during the protests, and how their bond, sorority and compassion is something very powerful that we should admire and ultimately learn from it. 

A third favorite project of mine has to be the latest project I was involved in. It is called The County Killings and it is a TV show we developed with my producer friend, Jimmy Luc. It is the story of a series of murders in which the victims are hispanic women living in small town America. 

NY Elite: What type of scripts do you want to write in your career?

I would like to write scripts that move the audience, or stories that make the audience feel they have discovered or rediscovered something about themselves, something they had forgotten or even something they were not aware of. Obviously a writer cannot always guess what will move the audience, every person in that audience is different. It is better to start with oneself; see if what you are writing touches you or reveals to you something about yourself.  

NY Elite: As a writer, what is the most important aspect of building a character?

A character is a very interesting creature. I think the most important aspect of a well developed character is their contradictions: what they say to themselves or others and then what they actually do. A character that doesn’t have an inner conflict is not very interesting, because it is exactly that personal conflict within the character that makes us empathize with them, it makes us feel they are human, flawed, just like us.  

NY Elite: What projects are you currently working on?

Currently I am writing a short film that deals with immigration, Parisian homogenous elite culture and what it means to feel like an outsider in your own home country. Later on, I would like to develop this project here in Paris, either with a director or a producer.

NY Elite: Do you express yourself creatively in any other ways?

Yes, I am a musician. I compose music and I play classical guitar. I am currently part of a project called Tamara Austral, and I am in the midst of developing a more personal project in which I intend to combine classical guitar with electronic sounds. I sometimes draw as well and it is a great hobby of mine. 

NY Elite: What advice would you give to someone who wants to have a career in filmmaking/writing?

I would say that art is much more a skill than an inherent talent. And just like any skill, it has to be learned, understood, assimilated and put later on into work. Creativity is no different, but so many people think that if they try once and they don’t see some sort of recognition right away, it means they don’t have the talent to pursue a creative endeavor. It is not true. You have to try and fail many times. Then eventually you will do something that will make you feel satisfied. You have reached the limit of your creativity and it is okay because what you have done is better than anything you have ever done before. That is a great feeling! And it is specially good because the path that took you there was a test of your humility and your passion for your art.

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