Interview with US-Brazilian screenwriter Laura Malin

Laura Malin is a bestselling Brazilian author and screenwriter whose female, Latino production company is based in LA. Laura has worked on the development of films including ‘Head Over Heals 3’ and TV series such as ‘The Awakener: The Series’ among many other film and TV projects. Here she talks about why she always wants to champion Brazilian talent, finding success on the film festivals circuit, and what she learns when she’s on set.

Tell us about your beginnings in the film industry?

“I started 25 years ago in Los Angeles, where I moved after finishing my writing studies at UC Berkeley. I got myself an agent and started working on my first script, and oddly enough it ended up being considered by Leonardo DiCaprio’s company. That was in the late 1990s and I was off to a very good start! I moved back to Brazil and started writing scripts for a living. My first TV series, ‘Turma do Gueto’, which came out in 2002, had the same ratings as ‘Friends’ in America. From this time on, I wrote, collaborated and supervised dozens of scripts and TV series, both in Brazil and the US. In 2014, when I moved to Los Angeles again, I finally set up my production company here, Malin Entertainment.”

What are you working on at the moment?

“I’m co-producing a feature film called ‘Sylvie’ based on a true story about a Congolese refugee who ended up in Brazil after fleeing the civil war, sneaking into a ship and hiding for 40 days with her two kids on the lower deck. We’re still developing it, but we have a fantastic cast lined up!

“I’m equally very excited about distributing the Lebanese film ‘1982’ (2020), by Oualid Mouaness, a beautiful narrative that just won the Grand Prix Cannes Écrans Juniors 2021, after having amassed more than 20 other prizes, including The Toronto International Film Festival NETPAC Prize.”

“In addition, I’m co-producing a docuseries about the story of how Instagram was created. I’m looking for relevant contributions by Brazilians to the world, so as Instagram was co-created by Mike Krieger, a guy from São Paulo, I’m very invested in telling this story. I’m also script-doctoring the movie ‘Voo 375’, about the hijacking of an aeroplane back in 1988, by a desperate man who wanted to crash it into the president’s house in Brasília. It is a crazy true story, which is very rooted in how economics and politics can affect people’s lives.”

Photo credit: Paula Montes

How is your company Malin Entertainment unique?

“We are a non-Hispanic, Latino-female company based in Los Angeles – we represent and consult for big Brazilian companies, as well as independent clients from elsewhere. We acquire IPs and book rights and format them according to what the marketplace and the audience need. So besides curating international IPs, we prepare them for development by formatting and packaging them. We basically do everything related to development, from curating the content to pre-selling feature films and TV series. We also have a small sales and acquisitions arm, offering Brazilian films for distribution. And we’ve been covering the film festival and markets circuit, especially Cannes, Venice, AFM and Sundance.”

What have been your best projects to date?

“On a challenge level, I consulted for the film ‘The Invincible Dragon’ (2019), by director Fruit Chan, as the villain of the film is played by my client, Brazilian MMA fighter Anderson Silva. It was my first fight movie. An extremely enriching experience!

‘Astral City: A Spiritual Journey’ (2010), one of the top box offices of all time in Brazil. I’d been working with its director, Wagner de Assis, since his first feature, so it was one of those projects that really reflected my work as a script doctor.

“I really loved being on set of ‘The Rivers Murder’ (2011), a film starring Ray Liotta, Christian Slater and Ving Rhames. I’m not a ‘set person’ and I usually run away from it, but this time around it was different, and I learned a lot, especially working as a set screenwriter.”

I had the pleasure to collaborate on the script with director Eric Eason for his film ‘Journey to the End of the Night’ (2006), featuring Brendan Fraser, Scott Glenn and Mos Def. It was a dream to be part of this American film that was shot in Brazil.”

In 2021 I was an Emmy Juror for the Sir Peter Ustinov Television Scriptwriting Award from the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. It was great to read and judge all the new talent!

Photo credit: Pipe D’Amoed

You’re also an author, tell us more about that?

“I’ve published nine books in the past 17 years; some are novels and other biographies. They’ve sold more than 80,000 copies – which puts me on the bestsellers list in Brazil. I’m equally proud of all of them and very happy that all my novels were optioned to become either feature films or TV series.”