Rafael González-Vallinas • Producer
by David González
- Producer Rafael González-Vallinas, the man behind the project Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem, talks about his production process and the co-production deals he signed at Frontières@Brussels
During the 2015 Frontières International Co-Production Market, Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem by Spanish directors David Muñoz and Adrián Cardona was one of the projects selected for the Market Spotlight section. Based on Fist of Jesus, a short film made previously by the pair of directors – which kick-started the launch of a collection of merchandising and even a videogame (find out more here) – the feature is progressing towards the production stage, after being the subject of an Indiegogo campaign, and is being staged by brand-new production house Vallinas Films. The manager of Vallinas, Rafael González-Vallinas, who is making the leap to production following a career in distribution, is behind the movie. Vallinas talks to us about the movie’s development, and particularly about the deals he signed with other European countries during the Brussels-based professional event.
Cineuropa: What was the idea behind the decision to attend a co-production market with Once Upon a Time in Jerusalem?
Rafael González-Vallinas: For us, Frontières has been crucial because the important genre-film producers have become aware of our project. It’s more than a film about Jesus slaughtering zombies; the movie is a respectful blend of Braindead, Life of Brian and Conan the Barbarian. It has a superb screenplay and a concept that makes a really grand entrance and grabs attention at every genre-film event. We came up with it with a global vision in mind: we believe the most important markets are Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United States, Canada, South Korea and perhaps Japan... But not just Spain, specifically because it’s a country that doesn’t have exhibition channels for this type of production.
And you have closed new deals since presenting the project at Frontières last year.
We wanted to get the production off the ground with European co-producers in order to avoid having to cross the pond and look for partners that are unrelated to this type of movie. And this market has been absolutely indispensable in achieving this. We are now in very advanced talks – which we are anxious to finalise – with Vincent Brançon, of To Be Continued, who could be the French co-producer, and also with Jan Doense, of House of Netherhorror, the Dutch co-producer, although there are also more people involved, such as their respective partners François Cognard and Herman Slagter. We have a very natural co-production between France, the Netherlands and Spain. The project has reached the right people. They are both companies that are used to these projects and are in the know when it comes to the key professionals in this genre. We mustn’t forget that although it has a very strong concept, it’s still a genre film, and it has to be treated as such. The original short Fist of Jesus smashed through boundaries and won 90 awards... And people don’t understand why the feature-length version hasn’t been produced yet. Both directors have been trying to get the project off the ground for a long time, for longer than should have been necessary, and we are now extremely committed to getting the best end result we can.
How is the production schedule progressing?
We’re at a very advanced stage. We would have liked to be able to shoot it this year, but the year’s flying by very quickly. Projects like this require considerable effort because they are like an assembly line: we have to assemble the car, and it can’t be driven around with no wheels, even if it has everything else. We’re trying to secure money from the Netherlands Film Fund, through the Dutch co-producer, in addition to funding in Spain (via the ICAA) and France. It doesn’t mean it’s essential in order to realise this project, but it’s an option we’re weighing up. We’re at a very advanced stage in terms of how to make the film, where to shoot it, who the characters are... The locations would all be in Spain, and all the other aspects could be developed in the other co-producing countries.
As a distributor, you have not worked solely with genre films – do you see any particular differences between the way this type of movie is treated compared to others?
What really grabs my attention is the fact that the genre world really enjoys doing something different, something fun. The genre domain is primarily a comical one; it’s brimming with humour. People like that, and it really piques their curiosity.
(Translated from Spanish)