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Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopeña • Directors

From TV comedy to suspense films and maths

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Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopeña • Directors

Genre films dominated Spanish cinema in 2007, with titles that included The Kovak Box, Timecrimes [+see also:
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interview: Alejandro Miranda
interview: Nacho Vigalondo
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, The Orphanage [+see also:
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, REC [+see also:
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interview: Jaume Balagueró, Paco Plaza
interview: Julio Fernández
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, The Oxford Murders [+see also:
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interview: Álex de la Iglesia
interview: Gerardo Herrero and Mariela…
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, The Zone [+see also:
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]
and Fermat’s Room [+see also:
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. With its simple ingredients (five actors, a shrinking room and a series of puzzles) and very limited budget, the latter film achieved excellent box office results and has sold to 30 countries across the world, including the US.

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Cineuropa met with directors Luis Piedrahita and Rodrigo Sopeña in London, where their film will screen as part of the London Spanish Film Festival, before it travels to the Karlovy Vary Festival (July 4-12), where it has been selected in the Europe Now! section.

Cineuropa: You both made your debut as comedians on television. Do you find it strange that your debut film is of the suspense genre?
Rodrigo Sopeña: We ended up doing comedy because people on television essentially either work in comedy or do news programmes. TV comedy is based on improvisation and fresh gags, which is very difficult to translate into film. We didn’t dare try it. We preferred to make a genre film, in this case a mystery film, because it’s a form you can grasp.

The cast includes new talent and established veteran actors. What was it like working with such a diverse group?
Luis Piedrahita: For each role, we chose the best actors available to us. They immediately formed a close-knit group and they wanted to be present for all the scenes, including those that didn’t involve them. There was an unusual atmosphere of camaraderie, more like that found in the theatre, despite the fact that the shoot ran into numerous difficulties. But they do say that suffering unites people.

The strange thing is that when trying to sell the project to production companies our main tactic was to emphasise that it was a very easy film to make, with only five characters and one room. Our idea was that the room would actually shrink in size, so we had to move all four walls at the same time. We didn’t have time to practise this and it was somewhat complicated. Only those people who really needed to be there could stay in the room: technicians, actors and nobody else. There were anxiety attacks, fainting fits and accidents.

Where did you get the idea for the film, which centres on the rather uncinematic subject of mathematics?
R.S.: We started with the idea that we wanted just a few characters in one single room, which had to be as rich and interesting as possible. Then we came up with the idea of a changing, shrinking room that is a character in itself. Who can go inside this space? Mathematicians – people who combine coldness and passion. They’re passionate about their work, but cold and rational in their study of an objective science. As the film unfolds, they reveal their more passionate side.

What are your upcoming film projects?
L.P.: We’re working on a new screenplay, which will be completed before the end of this year. We don’t yet know when we will be able to start shooting. The new film will be in the same vein as Fermat’s Room: an ingenious plot, just a few good actors and not many locations. But in this case, the film will centre on a bank robbery.

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