“We tried to make an American-style film, but with a Spanish budget”
by Alfonso Rivera
- David Serrano, writer of hit films The Other Side of the Bed and its sequel, has directed his third feature, another musical, inspired by Jacques Demy and Woody Allen
Cineuropa: Is summer a good time to release musical comedies like Una Hora Más en Canarias [+see also:
interview: David Serrano
interview: David Serrano, director of …
film profile] ("One More Hour in the Canaries")?
David Serrano: Let’s hope so… Well yes, it’s a good time of year to release a comedy: a light-hearted, unpretentious film to while away the time.
Do you plan to one day make a pure drama or do you prefer making people laugh?
I really like making comedies. It’s what I enjoy most and for the time being I intend to continue making them. I really enjoy them as a viewer and it’s what I feel like doing now. I don’t know, perhaps in a while I’ll make dramas. I follow my instincts, but I imagine that in a while I’ll change.
Do you like taking risks?
Very much so. My films may be good or bad, but I’ve always taken a lot of risks. The Other Side of the Bed was the first musical comedy to be made in Spain for many years and my screenplay did the rounds of all the production companies in the country before someone dared to take it on.
We filmed Soccer Days almost as an anti-aesthetic documentary. Days of Cinema was a crazy idea, an experiment, blending drama with farce.
And now I’m trying to go further with this parody of musicals, a genre where the characters don’t want to be: they are irritated by the songs and the fact that people start dancing when they’re focused on something else. And the musical numbers are more beautiful and ambitious than the intimate ones in The Other Side of the Bed.
The film is a co-production between Spain and Colombia. How did this collaboration work?
It came about very naturally: the co-production was set up because I wanted to work with two Colombian actresses, Angie Cepeda and Juana Acosta, so once they were involved in the project, the possibility arose for a co-production. Colombia is open to this kind of collaboration, it has a good tax relief policy for those who invest in cinema. Moreover, it’s essential for our market that we make this type of co-production and have a Latin American star system, with actors who are famous both here and over there, because with all the difficulties we have in securing budgets, it’s essential to be able to co-produce.
What look did you go for to create that rather crazy tone, with characters who fly?
We aimed to give the film lots of colour, also in the night scenes, so that they had a magic feel and the whole film was almost like a fairytale. However, we didn’t want it to be a pop film, but for the colours to be incorporated in a subtle way, like in Jacques Demy’s The Young Girls of Rochefort, a film with lots of yellow and violet.
Why did you choose to shoot in the Canary Islands, which have been appearing a lot in Spanish films lately?
Following the script, the film needed an island or faraway place. The Canaries was a good option, besides the co-production agreements, on account of its facilities. Shooting in Madrid gets more and more complicated: not only due to the permits needed and the costs involved, but they also ask a fortune for filming in a house or a bar.
Over there in the Canaries, we had the support and help of an entire village; whereas, whilst shooting on location in Madrid some people threw a bucket of water near the camera and a man insulted us. I think it’s a better and better idea to avoid filming in Madrid and if they give us financial backing elsewhere, eventually we’ll all end up doing this.
How did the actors prepare for the singing, dancing… and flying?
Only two actors sing. The rest is dubbed, and we looked for similar voices so it wasn’t noticeable. They also rehearsed the dances a lot and Juana Acosta put up with spending a lot of time – ten hours – suspended from a harness. We tried to make an American-style film, but with a Spanish budget.
This is your third film. What have you learned from these three "intensive lessons"?
Curiously, I think I learned the most on this latest film. It’s the first time I really felt like a director. After Una Hora Más en Canarias now I know what filmmaking is and I’m starting to know how to use the camera. We did more interesting things with the editing, sound and images. I learned a lot with this film. On seeing your mistakes you learn about everything you mustn’t do.