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D'A 2021

Borja de la Vega • Director of Mia & Moi

“I know the actors very well, their fears and concerns”

by 

- The actors’ agent has taken his first turn behind the camera with a family drama recently unveiled at the 11th D’A Film Festival in Barcelona

Borja de la Vega • Director of Mia & Moi
(© Matteo Rovella)

Until now, the name Borja de la Vega (Barcelona, 1975) was linked only with the actors’ agency Kuranda. Now, he’s relaunching himself as an up-and-coming director, still buzzing from the premiere of his first film in the competitive Talents section of the D’A Film Festival: Mia & Moi [+see also:
interview: Borja de la Vega
film profile
]
, a family drama featuring Bruna Cusí, Ricardo Gómez, Eneko Sagardoy and Joe Manjón, scheduled for release in Spain on 21 May under the banner of Toned Media.

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Cineuropa: Before becoming an agent, did you have any experience in other branches of the film industry?
Borja de la Vega:
Yes, I spent nine years marketing video launches for Fox and Universal. Later down the line, I decided I wanted to represent actors. I set up my own little agency just to get started, and I’ve now been at Kuranda for seven years.

How did you come to realise that you wanted to work in such a niche area?
When I was very small, I would tell my family I wanted to direct films, but then life led me down other paths. I studied Audiovisual Communication, but never felt strongly enough about it to try to sell what I wrote. I started working on other things, but I have always really enjoyed obsessively tracking performers’ careers; as a child I would spend hours mapping out (imaginary) career paths for them. Then a friend of mine remarked that I should be a talent scout, and it turned out that he was right.

When did you decide to take the plunge and start directing actors, as well as representing them?
I had been doing some writing and had tried to get a few things off the ground. But with this film, the seed was planted in a half-joking conversation with Bruna and Ricardo. I told them that they should work together, and then Ricardo said, why didn’t I write them something myself. That night, I couldn’t sleep and I bashed out an eight-page treatment, where the two of them play a brother and sister with a special relationship and a secret. It was very similar to what we ended up filming. At 7 am, I sent it to them and they told me they loved it; two months later I had a draft screenplay for Mia & Moi.

Did you produce the film yourself?
Absolutely. Ricardo helped me actually make it happen, because we were determined to start shooting on a specific date and not let the enthusiasm wane.

Does being an agent help when you are directing actors?
I had to get over my self-consciousness, because I knew the actors from a completely different context. A director with a new project establishes a certain working relationship, but I had to reconfigure my existing relationships with people I talk to on a daily basis about contracts, test shoots and auditions. Suddenly I had to forget all of that, and there’s also the fact that my actors had more on-set experience than I did. I felt quite awkward about it, but they compartmentalized perfectly and never made me feel inferior. It was the opposite, in fact — we fell into a rapport quite easily and there was no confusion at all. Certainly, I know them very well, their fears and their concerns; I know how to speak to actors and yes, in that respect my previous experience of dealing with actors was undoubtedly useful.

Of course, I have to ask if there is any autobiographical aspect to your début film...
No, not at all, thankfully! Nothing that happens in the film, nor the kind of family dynamics it depicts, has any basis in my own experience. I set the film in Catalonia, close to where I grew up, and there were times during preproduction when I felt a connection to my childhood. There are some everyday impressions in the film that strike a chord, such as when we see the characters playing cards or monopoly.

Why take on such a sensitive issue as violence and abuse for your first experience as a director?
There was no particular reason, although like everyone I find these issues concerning. I had in my head this character of a girl in an abusive relationship, and when I was writing I started to think about where that might come from. I was interested in how she had been affected by the untold story of her parents; the story I was telling was about two siblings shaped by their childhood. I think it’s important that, when you write about a subject of that nature, you do it with respect and as truthfully as possible.

Were there any films that influenced you when you were thinking about these issues?
I have eclectic tastes, everything from Scorsese and Polanski to Sofia Coppola and Xavier Dolan, but there was one: Sunday’s Illness [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Ramón Salazar
film profile
]
, by Ramón Salazar.

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(Translated from Spanish)

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