David Marqués • Director
"Winking" at experimental film
by Vitor Pinto
Six years after his directorial debut Cualquiera, David Marqués is back behind the cameras with Isolated, a film shot in digital, with three actors and a three-man crew. A confessed fan of American sitcoms, the scriptwriter and filmmaker has now made a film with a minimalist narrative structure, using the hilarious dialogues between its leading characters as a pretext to jump into the world of thirtysomething men. While preparing the sequel of Isolated, Marqués tells us about his second feature, screened at several international film festivals. The next port of call will be Karlovy Vary, where the film will screen in the "Variety Critics’ Choice: Europe Now!" sidebar section.
Cineuropa: Is Isolated a film made by men for men at a time when there are a lot of female character driven stories?
David Marqués: When we were shooting Isolated, we thought our main audience would be men between 30 and 35 years old. To our great surprise, since the film's first screening back at the Malaga Film Festival, where 80% of the public were women of all ages, the film has been very much appreciated by women too. I must admit we were a bit afraid that the women would accuse us of being male chauvinists, but in the end the female audiences really enjoyed the film. For them was like spying on men's behaviour when women are not around. Some older women came up to me and said "My son is exactly like that". We are glad the film works on all those levels.
If the film works well, it is partially due to the complicity between the two leading actors Adriá Collado and Eric Francés. Is their spontaneity the result of improvisation?
During shooting there was no space for improvisation. I was locked in a flat for three weeks with the actors; working together on the script, adapting the text to make it sound as spontaneous as possible. We wanted it to sound improvised, despite the fact that it wasn't. Isolated is the story of two friends who meet after a long time and talk about their lives. Such a text should never sound theatrical for us. We started playing around with the characters, each one of us suggested new ideas and improvised. As we reached a "spontaneous tone" we reintroduced the original lines and kept the best of those improvisations. During the shooting actors knew exactly what to do, so everything went very smoothly.
Was the film received as well internationally as it was in Spain?
The film was shown in Prague, Romania and London and it has been amazingly well received in all of these places. People laugh at the same times. We thought we had made a personal and typically Spanish film, but we realised it's a universal kind of humour.
Adriá Collado's character says at one point that he wants to make a film where nothing happens and where characters do nothing but talk. According to him, those are the films that are successful at festivals. Ironically that seems to be the fate of Isolated…
We have made an experimental film, in which the plot structure was rather minimalist. As we were shooting that scene we were aware that it was a provocation that might be used against us. At its first Spanish screening, which was a success among audiences, but the film got a bashing from critics because of that same scene. In London, however, it helped to support us. It’s a very funny paradox that the same scene can be perceived in different ways. We were aware people were watching a film in which the camera didn't move for five minutes and that it was focused on two guys talking to each other. But, as Eric Francés' character says, if the film was shot in French or Russian, critics would have supported it. For us it's like winking at the audience and at the critics, it is like saying: "We know what we are doing and we do not want the film to have to prove itself". Isolated is exactly the type of film we wanted to make.
Are you going to shoot the sequel to Isolated?
We have been saying that since we finished shooting. It hasn’t been written yet. I want the second part to happen as naturally as the first one. But I can already tell you that will be called Gratis and it will be a road movie, in which the same characters decide to go to the beach which is just two kilometres away. I am sure we will include a scene which will be a tease to road movies (laughs). I also have other scripts which are already finished and I am negotiating with some production companies. Perhaps the success of Isolated will open new doors.
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