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“I consider cinema to be an international language”

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Paco Delgado • Costume designer


- Cineuropa sat down with award-winning costume designer Paco Delgado at the Visegrad Film Forum to discuss his latest projects, The Danish Girl and Grimsby

Paco Delgado • Costume designer

The Visegrad Film Forum hosted a master class with Canarian costume designer Paco Delgado on the topic of narration through clothing. Delgado has been nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design for his work on Les Misérables [+see also:
making of
film profile
 and, most recently, The Danish Girl [+see also:
film review
interview: Paco Delgado
film profile
. A frequent collaborator with both Pedro Almodóvar and Álex de la Iglesia, he was also nominated for Best Costume Design for both projects at the BAFTAs and was a winner of the Goya, Gaudí and EFA Awards for Best Costume Design for Pablo Berger's Blancanieves [+see also:
film review
film focus
interview: Pablo Berger
festival scope
film profile

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Cineuropa: You are currently attached to two projects: the M Night Shyamalan-directed project Split as well as Pablo Berger’s latest effort, Abracadabra. Can you compare both experiences?
Paco Delgado
: Well, I consider cinema to be an international language. We do more things similarly than we do differently. The main difference is the budget, obviously, but at the end of the day, we all work the same way. When I started working in international cinema, I was fascinated by the way everyone made the same mistakes. When you are attached to an international project, you know there is more money involved and you can do things in different ways. I think I normally work with directors who operate on a certain artistic level – I work on films that have some kind of artistic compromise. Every director is different, obviously, with different sensibilities; it's what makes them different. Shyamalan is really interesting – he makes films about complicated states of minds but comes across as a really funny guy. Pablo, on the other hand, makes all these comedies but is more introverted, and I suppose this affects the way you work with them.

Which director would you say gives you more creative freedom: Shyamalan or Berger?
I feel like I have creative freedom no matter whom I’m working with. I like to work with directors with whom I share a strong visual opinion. I hate it when you work with people who don’t really know what they want, and find it easier to work with somebody who has a clear aesthetic vision. Pablo is the kind of person who comes to you and shows you pictures, costumes and fabrics because he does a lot of very extensive visual research before he starts shooting. I like that as well; you have some points of reference, and I like to work with these kinds of restrictions.

Besides your work on The Danish Girl, in which costumes have greater meaning, you’ve also worked on projects like Grimsby. How did that happen?
I love to work on different projects, and most of my career I have worked in comedy. I love comedy, and I find that it is a very difficult and complicated genre. I think if you are trying to make something funny in comedy, you should make it completely unfunny because that creates a bigger contrast. Working on Grimsby was great because it felt like coming back to the films I used to work on in Spain with the director Álex de la Iglesia. Working with Sacha Baron Cohen is amazing; he is a clever and interesting guy – always coming up with new ideas and new gags.

Did Sacha Baron Cohen have his own opinions on costume design?
He definitely knows what he wants! He comes from a comedy background, and comedians in the UK do everything by themselves - gags, scripts, character development, and they also decide what they wear. So he had an opinion about everything, and that's good.

What were some of your references for Grimsby?
It was mostly about looking at spies and double agents, the 007s and superheroes of the world. At the same time, we were looking at real unemployed people living in the North of England who are deprived of many things. I mean, at the end of the day, Grimsby is a social protest against the gap between the North and the South, and why people in the South think the people in the North are lazy as well, so it is really a social comedy.

Regarding The Danish Girl, was it important that you knew Eddie Redmayne would be taking on the main role?
Yes, it was. With Pedro Almodóvar, I had already worked on a project where a man becomes a woman, and I have to say it was a big failure because Gael García Bernal didn’t really give it his all. He was fearful. As men, we have been trained all our lives to be masculine, to be strong and not to show our feminine side, and I think that, in this way, women are freer than us because today’s society masculinises women more than it feminises men, which scares us. I think Gael was more concerned with that than Eddie was.

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