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Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi • Directors

“Our work is very much part of our daily life”


- SAN SEBASTIÁN 2017: Spanish directors Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi are taking their first turn behind the camera with the musical adaptation Holy Camp!

Javier Calvo and Javier Ambrossi  • Directors
(© Lorenzo Pascasio)

Javier Ambrossi (Madrid, 1984) and Javier Calvo (Madrid, 1991), partners in art and in life, started their careers in front of the camera, later branching out to direct a successful online series, Paquita Salas. That was before Enrique López Lavigne of Apache Films persuaded them to adapt their hit stage musical La llamada for the big screen. The film version of the production, which has been running successfully for some years now in theatres all over the world, will be introduced to international audiences as Holy Camp! [+see also:
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Cineuropa: How did you divide up the work during filming?
Javier Ambrossi:
It was half and half. We share a life, a bed, friends, dogs, a house... everything So our work is very much part of our daily life and we bounce ideas off each other all the time, which we later work into the screenplay. When it comes to directing, we work intuitively and talk everything through together, like a team.
Javier Calvo: As we go, we learn where each of us feels most comfortable and we each know when to take a step back. We’re still discovering new things about each other, but I perhaps tend to joke around a bit more whereas he works more closely with the actors. We divide up the work, but we also get involved in what the other is doing. It’s 50-50.

Did the online series Paquita Salas serve as something of an experiment or classroom for you?
It was like the short film that directors make before their first feature — it’s just that it ended up turning into something bigger than we had planned, but we were really keen to learn. We’re very hard-working, and afterwards we threw ourselves into making the film without any trepidation.

Is Holy Camp! very similar to the original stage production, La llamada?
It’s fairly loyal to the original, but it goes a little further — you see things that you don’t see in the stage version but that are important to the story, because the theatre is a unique setting where you have people describing what is happening or is about to happen. There are also a few new characters. We also took out the odd joke that didn’t seem funny to us any more, or other things that didn’t work so well once we got to editing. It was always our intention to tell the same story, but four years on; we’re different people now and our perspective is more mature and nostalgic.

Would you say your humour was local or universal?
Humour is always local, but specific situations are the only really universal ones. To tell a funny story you need to be specific; it doesn’t make you any less likely to be understood. I don’t think our humour is particularly niche — in fact La llamada has been performed in Mexico and Russia to great success. We get compliments from all different countries.

Was it thanks to the prompting of Enrique López Lavigne that the film got made?
Enrique was like a visiting god, who came to us one day and offered us the biggest adventure of our lives. He’s one of the last of a certain breed of producers; he’s someone who really wants us to do well, to get better, and he understands us because he still thinks like a twenty-year-old. He doesn’t try to take credit where it’s not due and he’s not at all controlling — he loves film and the respect he has is incredible.

What’s next for “los Javis”?
We’re not sure yet. We have a lot of faith in the film and if it’s a success, we might make more. If not, then we’ll see what else we might turn our hands to in the future.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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