“Let´s have a film industry that talks about what´s going on”

Things we can learn on a Friday night (and that can change us forever):

  1. Never say never. 20 years ago, Sevilla was one of the worst places for films. Nowadays, Manuela Ocón and Alberto Rodríguez, successful producer and director of national and international renown, are filming in their own city. Double success.
  2. Streaming movies, YouTube, series… We can no longer talk about Spanish films, but rather “Spanish audiovisual material”, said Casimiro Torreiro.
  3. Alberto: “These are strange times, nobody seems to know what’s going to happen next. There’s a TV series bubble worldwide, that, if we’re realistic about, is probably going to end up bursting. One thing that won’t change, is that we’re going to keep on telling stories; and we need people to narrate them, write them and tell them first hand…”
  4. What do you need to be a film professional? “Passion, energy, and in my case—said Alberto— having what someone needs at the right place in the right time”. That’s what happened with VHS of El factor Pilgrim.  “That’s how it all started. Imagine how random all of this is”.
  5. Manuela speaking, one of the best production directors in our country: “The State and the economic forces have yet to know how we want to set up our film industry, it’s never been clearer; first one law and then another…”

  1. María: “Strangely enough, nobody goes to the movies to watch Spanish films. And that’s a pity. The French do that very well, they love themselves, we don’t; we don’t appreciate Spanish films. If there were more Spanish films, a fair share of them, people would go”. 
  2. Some films go unnoticed. We don’t even know they exist. Alberto: “During the post-production phase, when you finish editing, there’s no money left;  no money for advertising”.
  3. A comment: the car industry is much better sponsored than the film industry, said María. Manuela added: “It’s not only about grants, it’s about protecting a cultural industry that should be considered important for a country”.
  4. “Goddard said: ‘There’s no film industry anymore, from now on there will be movies’, meaning that the film industry is no longer the popular show par excellence; even so, the Spanish film industry is the most precise tool used to talk about the Spanish society”, said Casimiro.
  5. For instance: La isla mínima, explains the times of transition in Andalucía better than a history treaty. “It’s extraordinary. Let’s at least have a film industry that talks about what’s going on, what we don’t like about our society. There’s plenty of subjects there to talk about!”.

  1. A shared fact: current politicians are not very interested in the Spanish film industry and culture in general. “A porn magazine having lower taxes than a movie, is a declaration of principles”, dice Casimiro.
  2. In 2017, there were 250 films made in Spain. 
  3. And what about scriptwriters? Alberto knows where he stands: “First I write, and then I direct. If the script isn’t good, it’s impossible to come up with a good film. If I don’t believe in the script, filming isn’t worth it”. For a long time, Rafael Azcona was the only full-time screenwriter in the Spanish film industry.  “He used to work just with scriptwriting, but other scriptwriters were also employed by banks, or worked as make up artists”, said Casimiro. And this problem still goes on.  They don’t get paid much. Around 15% of them only write. The rest need another job, sometimes unrelated to the film industry, to make a living. María: “Without a story, there’s no movie. We don’t value and respect screenwriters as much as we should. Overall, jobs in the film industry are poorly paid. If I were to work out the hours worked, sometimes 12 hours a day, and compare it to the salary we get… The film industry gives a different impression because of the red carpet. But it’s not true: the dresses are on loan, the car picks you up and then picks up someone else…”.
  4. Editing.  “Filming is something that happens between pre-production and editing, said María. Alberto added: “Editing is the last writing. The final decision is made about the efforts made by many people. That final moment is so important that Rafael Cobo, regular screenwriter, comes to the final cut and we wonder: ‘Is this the film we dreamed of when we got started?’ Sometimes is not, but it’s actually better. There are so many factors involved…”
  5. A whole. “Making a film is combining many different things. Without a script, or actors, or a good art direction, or a good photography director,… we might as well go home. Films are made of a mix of so many things!”

  1. How did you get started in the film industry? Alberto wanted to be a journalist, but a friend of his father put him off the idea. When I was queueing up to enrol, “I tossed a coin and I got audiovisual communications”. What Alberto really liked was to tell stories and it was at the university when he fell in love with what the film industry had to offer. “Up until then, I was the opposite of the Cinema Paradiso kid, but once I realised…  it was like it had to flow, I said to myself, ‘I have to do this, no matter what’”. María loved pictures and stories, games and play pretend… “One day, I put it all together and I said to myself ‘that’s the movies’”.  Her father laughed. Before wanting to be a film director she wanted to be the captain of a ship and a truck driver. What Manuela was sure of was having a driving licence. She worked documenting at the Film Archive in because she loved investigating; until one day, they were looking for unpaid interns… who had a car.
  2. Production. “It’s sort of the dark side: you never really know what it is. I got involved in production without unknowingly; until I found out that it’s the most beautiful job in the film industry. You take part in the whole film process, you get to travel, meet people, organise the team work… But it’s hard. If you’re not sure, don’t do it“.
  3. A comment and some news: this year, the Pancho Lasso Art School has inaugurated its first Audiovisuals cycle.
  4. Alberto: “I’ve been working with the same people for 20 years now, and we are friends. Without them I wouldn’t be here. Films are made with team work. María: “In my first film, the producer was a friend of mine, from school. The human aspect leads to beautiful results. Not only friends with common interests, but true friends”.

  1. Some advice? “The film industry is not a profession for people who aren’t patient, it’s quite the opposite of the Facebook ‘I like’; is for people who are determined. It involves so many people that you must be really patient”.
  2. The beginnings. María used to work as a director’s assistant and went to Los Angeles: she wanted to get into the American Film Institute, where only five non American directors get in every year. People from all over the world can apply. “My level of English was quite poor, they offered me a job in Danny de Vito’s production company and I thought, ‘the American dream truly exists’.  I had an appointment in his house and it turned out that the job was as a cleaning lady at the beach house. I cried and cried as I ironed. I said to myself ‘in Spain I was a director’s assistant…” But María persevered. “I wanted to get into the school. A friend of mine said to me: ‘Have you done everything you can do?’ That night I wrote a letter to Danny de Vito: “I am your maid but I want to be a film director”. Also, Almodovar wrote a recommendation letter. With the letter in hand, she arrived at the American Institute. The first thing they asked her was: ‘Do you know Danny de Vito?”. She got in the American Film Institute.

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