AMAT ESCALANTE ON MAKING VISUAL EFFECTS IN CPH04 Jul 2015, Posted by Uncategorized @en in
The cornerstone of one of the films, that already can be labeled as one of the most anticipated at next year’s Cannes Film Festival, was layed in Copenhagen a couple of weeks ago. It took place, when Mexican Amat Escalante, who got an international breakthrough with the award for best direction for “Heli” in Cannes in 2013, was in town to start work on his next film “The Untamed”. Copenhagen Film Fund has invested in it (read more here) which made it possible for several Danish filmworkers to contribute to the film on central positions.
Director of Photography Manuel Alberto Claro, who is shooting the film, and visual effects-wizard Peter Hjorth have both worked on Lars von Trier’s last films. The Copenhagen-based visual effects-studio SODA is also contributing to the films visual side and Katrin Pors from Danish Adomeit Film is co-producing.
We met up with Amat Escalante who is one of the most interesting directors on the international filmscene right now, when he was in Copenhagen, to talk about his coming film, which is set in his homeregion of Guanajuato, Mexico, his new Danish collaborators and the creative process.
What is your coming film ”The Untamed” about?
“It is about people struggling to liberate themselves. Especially liberating yourself as a woman which can be tough in Mexico. Like in the rest of the world men have taken control over society. Not just in Mexico City, but also in the smaller towns around the country, where I come from, the city of Guanajuato. The most vulnerable people are women, and this film is about a woman who is liberating herself from the oppression of the society and machismo.”
Where did you find the inspiration?
“I was inspired by an article in a magazine. Every city in Mexico has a weekly magazine that is showing very graphic pictures of all the accidents and is putting them on the cover to sell more. It is very morbid. There was a picture of a man, who had drowned. The headline said: “Little faggot dead”. It was shocking to see, and I read the article. He was a male nurse who happened to be gay. He was murdered and drowned. The magazine could have written: “Male nurse drowned”. But they didn’t, and that says a lot about the society and the mentality, and that inspired me to the story in my film. It is very savage, and the Spanish title of the film is “La Region Savaje”, “The Savage Region”.
”I don’t think that people anywhere in the world would want to see a picture of a local dead guy. But in Mexico I see that kind of pictures on the cover every week, and sometimes I even know them. It affects me deeply and has an influence on how I portray violence in my films.”
”The Untamed” is using quite a bit visual effects, because a mysterious creature plays a key part in the film. Therefore, it is important to have skilled people to do that task and the rest of the films visual side.
”I knew about Manuel Alberto Claro beforehand. I had seen his name, that is Spanish, so I got curious and researched him. I saw “Melancholia” and “Nymphomaniac” (directed by Lars von Trier, editor’s note) and “Reconstruction” (directed by Christoffer Boe, editor’s note), and I was impressed. I reached out to him without knowing him, and that is how I came in touch with Peter Hjorth. It is very important to prepare the film’s visual side before shooting. Peter Hjorth has 30 years of experience doing that, so it gives us a lot of creative freedom.”
How is your collaboration going?
”I have worked with Peter Hjorth and Morten Jacobsen (from SODA, editor’s note) for a week now, and it has been very interesting. In all the time I have been making movies, I have never worked with anybody like them. I don’t know yet, what the creature should look like, so it is developing, while we are work. We are sketching and drawing. And I am not telling them, how it should look, we are finding out together. If you are in a rush, you can frustrated, because it is not easy. These things develop slowly.”
Why are visual effects so important in the film?
“When I started making films, I wanted to do documentary. But because of my personality I had a hard time to get other people to open up to me, and that frustrated me. When I began making fiction, I mixed it with documentary. I always use non-actors, that I find in the street. I thought, it would be interesting to use sci-fi-elements to hit an even more real note – something that is out of this world. That is why, the visual effects are more important in this film than in my other films. That is why, I am working with Peter Hjorth and SODA. They are really good and will bring a lot to this film.”
”The Untamed” is expected to premiere at Cannes in 2016.