Damián París and Rosa García Merino • Producers of That Was Life
“The audience is demanding new perspectives and approaches”
- We chatted to two professionals who helped get David Martín de los Santos’ feature debut off the ground; the film is now being presented at Transilvania, months before its Spanish theatrical release
That Was Life [+see also:
interview: Damián París and Rosa Garcí…
interview: David Martín de los Santos
film profile], written and directed by David Martín de los Santos, is currently competing at the Transilvania International Film Festival, three months ahead of its theatrical release in Spain. We took the opportunity to talk to two of its producers.
Cineuropa: Is it hard to get a project by a first-time fiction feature director off the ground?
Rosa García: It’s not easy, but there’s no better time for it than right now. Male and female first-time directors are coming along and giving the audiovisual landscape a breath of fresh air, and they represent and reflect the diversity of new Spanish cinema. In the last few years, feature debuts such as Schoolgirls [+see also:
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film profile], The Platform [+see also:
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film profile] and A Thief’s Daughter [+see also:
interview: Belén Funes
film profile], among others, have found their niche in the market and in the hearts of the audience. The crisis has resulted in a reduction in film budgets; before, the system was more industrial, and new, independent cinema has enabled new voices to break out – or, in other words, it has allowed us to listen to or amplify those voices that have always been there, including those belonging to women.
Do television channels and national bodies tend to get behind authorship and talent?
RG: Being able to rely on a well-known or popular name, one that’s had a recent success, is a sure-fire guarantee; however, I think that when you’re able to count on a great story and a promising talent, the project eventually sees the light of day and ends up finding its way. It’s not easy, but the television channels and the official bodies do meet their obligation to support the best stories and projects.
What attracted you to That Was Life enough to persuade you to get involved in its lengthy production process?
RG: First of all, the script: the story and the voice of its main character, María, who’s played by Petra Martínez. Also, the need to tell this story and to share it with others. María represents that generation of women who were born during the post-war period, who sacrificed everything and have disregarded their own desires in order to meet the needs of others. The film talks about an eye-opening coming-of-age journey that leads to an awakening in the life of the protagonist, which is both emotional and sexual. We simply had to tell that story and share it, given that cinema is a social tool with which to spark debate and tear down the barriers surrounding taboos, such as female sexuality above a certain age, for instance. And, secondly, the creative team behind this amazing story was a big draw.
What were the advantages and disadvantages of shooting in Almería and Ghent?
Damián París: Almería is my homeland, and I love filming there, besides the fact that it has some spectacular locations and light. For this film, we had support from the provincial government and the Almería Festival. The disadvantages would be that Almería is not yet well connected in terms of transport, which means that journeys are long and expensive. Also, it doesn’t yet have enough technicians or suppliers to enable you to shoot there without having to bring them in from other cities.
Shooting in Belgium was a wonderful experience: Ghent is a cosy, pretty city. And it’s really not very far to other places in the country, which means you can work with great professionals and rely on having all of the services you need. Initially, we thought that filming in Belgium would be more problematic than it was in Almería because we didn’t know the situation on the ground very well. But in the end, it was quite the opposite. This was also made possible thanks to the support and the associate-production activities of a Belgian production outfit, Raised by Wolves, which made everything so much easier for us.
Did you attempt to make the movie as a co-production with other countries?
DP: We would have loved to co-produce with France and/or Belgium, but owing to several incompatibilities with the ICAA regulations, this wasn’t possible.
What have you learned from this feature, on a professional as well as a personal level?
RG: On one hand, the fact that there are still stories and voices that have not yet been brought to the big screen. In Spain, we are lucky enough to have a huge pool of talented screenwriters and filmmakers who have new stories in store for the audience. In addition, we are living at the perfect time – a time in which the audience is demanding new perspectives and approaches. During its journey through the Tokyo, Seville, Málaga, D’A and Almería Film Festivals, among others, That Was Life has been received enthusiastically and with great affection. It has connected with viewers, and so the market is clearly demanding new narratives, approaches and languages that generate a new focus. The sector is changing, but so is the audience, and it’s imperative that we make progress in the way we approach society through cinema.
(Translated from Spanish)
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