Monday, September 29, 2014

AN INTERVIEW WITH JAIME FALERO

Jaime Falero is a Spanish-born filmmaker whose career is on the rise. His tastes run from personal, historical films to action films and horror movies. Working outside the established filmmaking routes of his native country, he has endeavoured to learn and progress quickly and find financing through private means, attracting actors of the calibre of Eric Roberts in his second film, the current PROJECT 12: THE BUNKER (2014).  

Where did you grow up?
I’m an Islander. I was born in 1976 in Tenerife, the larger of the Canary Islands. It's a  paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, that belongs to Spain. I grew up in La Laguna, which is a monument city listed in the UNESCO heritage. It's a quiet place, full of great people. My mother was a modern housewife, despite being born in 1936. My father was a sailor. He was born in 1933 and is a well-traveled person. Both are now retired and still live on the island.

What are some of the strongest memories of watching movies as a child?
My best memories come from my father. Every evening, since I was 7 or 8 years old, he rented movies from a neighborhood video club called 'Cosmos'. He
was a big fan of movies made by Cannon Films, and liked movies with strong actors like Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, Burt Reynolds, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Stallone, Jack Palance and Eric Roberts. I have seen most 80’s and 90’s action films, thanks to my father. These simple but entertaining movies taught me a lot.

 When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Honestly, I don’t how it happened. At the age of 12 my father purchased a small videocam and I used to meet friends in my neighborhood to shoot short movies just for fun. At the age of 14, I started high school but I dropped out a few years later and started studying acting at EAC. I graduated at the age of 23. I then moved to Madrid to look for acting jobs but in less than 10 days I realized it was useless. So I returned to my island and with my girlfriend, I put together my first short film, OTHER ARTS. We were just working as actors in it until we discovered that we were in the need of a director. I offered to direct the film as well. That  short movie pushed me to develop a 'self-learned' career as a movie director. I never had a formal education as a filmmaker. That short film won a local prize and I started to think directing as a profession.

Which films or filmmakers influenced you in becoming a filmmaker?
The first BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) is one the most wonderful movies I have ever seen.
Funny, exciting, moving, entertaining and very commercial. It has it all! Besides BACK TO THE FUTURE,  I love Robert Zemeckis’s FORREST GUMP (1994) and Clint Eastwood's MYSTIC RIVER (2003).  I also love most of Scorsese's movies, and admire James Cameron,  Ridley Scott. Michael Mann and the mastermind Spielberg, as well as some of Coppola and George Lucas’ works.

Can you talk about your early short films and the first films you directed?
I guess I have never been a good director of short films. I always made short movies that always went long, like 30 minutes. I realized this trend after my second short film THE LAST BUSINESS in 2004. I used that film as a gateway to demonstrate my skills to investors and producers , and move up in the film industry. My strategy worked well. No short film makes history in the industry, and no director can make a living making them. I was however very fortunate with my shorts. I worked with top actors like Maribel Verdú, José Sancho or Carlos Bardem, and learned the ropes about directing films.

How easy is it to make films in Spain? Has it changed since you started making films?

The film industry in Spain is crap and full of corruption. Filmmaking in Spain is controlled by politics. Official funding in the Spanish film industry is based upon a subsidized grant and credit system. The scheme doesn’t work and is highly manipulated. Most products are mostly crap movies that get no commercial release. My projects were declined funding several times through the official funding channels, so I opted to go private when looking for funding, let’s say the American way. Private investors funded my projects, which was extremely difficult in a country like Spain were 99% of the films are financed and funded through government grants and credits. That makes a big difference. Private investors look at my projects evaluating the quality and marketability of my ideas, not like the official government grants that are approved based on personal and political favors and where the return on the investment doesn’t make any sense. Most government funded projects never got any return in Spain or elsewhere in Europe. Private investments demand returns. It's a business world, and I love the challenge of being funded by private investors. It seems to be working for me. The subsidized government scheme will come to an end soon in my opinion. Getting funded by private investors in Spain is hard work as the economy is stagnant here.

Who are some contemporay filmmakers you admire?
I admire J.J Abrams and Danny Boyle. I have seen many interesting contemporary movies lately from unknown directors from all over the world. It is sometimes difficult to remember all their names.

Can you talk about your first films POR DINERO NEGRO (2006) and EL CLAN (2012)? What inspired the stories?
POR DINERO NEGRO was a short film designed to be a tribute to 70’s movies. It was also a  rehearsal for making long films. EL CLAN was my first long movie. The script was based on a real story. It was inspired by stories of my mother during her adolescence, and in fact, the lead character's  name in that movie was my mother’s real name. The story was inspired by a family photograph, taken the same day my aunt was killed in a traffic accident in the 50’s. I wrote the script in 2007,  developed the project in 2010 and filmed it in 2011. We shot it in only 21 days with a very limited budget, averaging 35 shots a day without late hours. It was a great project to learn what not to do in the future. The production designer, Juan Carlos Sánchez Lzcano, was a great help to get that project done. Despite the difficulties we experienced making it, I'm proud of the final film. 


How were the experiences of making those films? What did you learn about filmmaking from them?
Filmmaking is magic, a dream come true. But without professional help, it can become the  worst of your nightmares. EL CLAN was a difficult experience , but I had a much better one making my second movie, PROJECT 12: THE BUNKER. I don't watch my weight but I lost  12 kilos in in 21 days making EL CLAN. I added 3 kilos  shooting “Project 12 The Bunker” I add 3 kilos to my belt during principal photography on PROJECT 12. 

Why did you decide to make PROJECT 12 in English?
Markets are more open to English language movies. My goal is to make great productions that are shot in English. Shooting in other languages cuts my options as a director.

How did you put together the story?
It came out of nowhere. It was something that just showed up in our heads. It was an unbelievable challenge. We wrote the script in only 14 days. We had the investor commitment before the script or sales work was done, so we worked hard to start filming ASAP. The film was shot, went through post-production and was released in less than eight months. I’m proud that the movie will be distributed worldwide by Spotlight and released in the U.S. soon.

How did you come to cast Eric Roberts? What was it like working with him?
We worked a lot to try and get the best actors available. I have a good team working with and it worked okay. Working with Eric Roberts was somewhat special. I watched him in so many 70’s and 80’s movies, and I was now directing him. He was a bit cold at first, but we get along well as the shoot progressed. He's a great actor. I also enjoyed working with James Cosmo from BRAVEHEART (1995) and TRAINSPOTTING (1996). He's another great actor.  I’m grateful to them for joining the cast, and I hope to work on more projects with them in the future.

Was it challenging shooting in a foreign language?
Yes it was. English is not my first language. My written English is much better than my spoken English. I expect to become fluent in the immediate future. During principal photography, I used a translator to communicate with the cast and it actually worked well. After that experience,  I now feel comfortable directing actors in any language. Language was not a barrier or a real problem while shooting.

Tell me about your partnership with Joaquin Sanchez. How did you start working with him?
Joaquín is an actor who also works in the financial sector in Barcelona. This is how we started talking. About film funding. He was in charge of putting together the investors with this project and I’m very satisfied with the team that we have created with him. He is a great actor with a great voice, and his help was paramount raising capital.

What projects do you have lined up next?
My next project is YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE. I think it's my best script to date. It's a loose but respectful vision of the Apocalypse and Jesus Christ's crucifixion. I wrote the script with my best friend Carlos Velázquez. We have a letter of intent from Eric Roberts, Spotlight Pictures and Filmax Pictures. Two top Hollywood actors are considering the project right now. We are working the casting and distribution deals, and are opening to investors now.