Monday, 13 July 2020

Interview with filmmaker Fran Martin

La Estrella will premier at the Straight-Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

How did you get into making films? 
At the age of 12 I was diagnosed with mononucleosis, a disease that forced me to stay locked up in my house because of the severe symptoms I had and the possibility of infecting my friends. For a month the only thing that kept me entertained were my toys and a digital camera that with only 512 Mb of memory allowed me to portray them in heroic and risky poses. I asked my dad to buy me a Telgopor template to make the streets of a city to scale, adapt shoe boxes to make the buildings and look for my big brother's toy cars. I made up a short story where my Spider-Man doll had to face some villains. With the camera I made an improvised attempt to capture him in action. I downloaded the pictures to the computer, manually synchronised the music of the original film and, passing photo by photo in the digital viewer, I showed my relatives the final result. Without realising it, what had kept me busy all afternoon was called StopMotion. At that moment, I realized that I wanted to make movies. During the following years I tortured my friends to be actors, extras or directors of photography for the short films I wanted to produce. Even though, as they were made by 16-year-old children, they lacked an outstanding quality, one could already appreciate a certain sense of composition in the image, a concern for continuity and editing, but fundamentally a willingness to narrate through sound. None of this is casual, I was raised in a cultural family. A sister an actress, another a designer, a brother a philosopher, mother a visual artist and father a storyteller and above all an excellent observer and listener. Films were always present in my life, through classics (El ciudadano Kane, Casablanca), national directors (Lucrecia Martel, Carlos Sorín, etc), international ones (Hermanos Coen, Alejandro Iñarritu, etc). 

What inspired you to make your movie? 
The project originated in my fourth year at the university. My older sister (who has a degree in theatre), after having starred in several plays, told me that she wanted to star in a film and that I should write a script for her. I kept in my memory a character from my childhood "The Star", a house painter who worked fixing the openings in my paternal grandmother's house. "The Star" was a very particular character, whom I deeply admired. He was apparently rough, short and with big hands, muscular in spite of his age, about 50 years old. He didn't have the hands of a painter, but he was very delicate and meticulous. He used to tell me legends of mythological animals while drawing them on paper and pencil in perfect detail. One day, when I arrived at my grandmother's house he was waiting for me and asked me to beat him up. I couldn't understand what he meant and he insisted that I hit him. I stood in front of him and threw a very clumsy punch. He easily dodged me and put his fist very close to my face. That day he confessed to me that he had been a boxer, but that because of a betrayal in his last fight he had decided to quit the sport. My little head at that moment exploded, how could anyone go from being a boxer to a house painter? Being a boxer was the closest thing to being a superhero and a painter... well I was a painter. For many years I treasured that memory. It was time to take that story to the movies. A small but complex story. I imagined that the path of a boxer should be much more complex than that of a boxer and even more so if it was a mother-boxer. With these triggers I began to weave the threads of the story. 

How has your style evolved? 
Usually when we think about the “style of an artist” we put our selves in a place of hope. We hope, as viewers, that our speculations or respectability to that artists get satisfied when we consume his art. I always say that I will or could talk about my style as a movie director in the future, probably when I be an old man waiting for death. I the meantime I would try to make the movies that I would like to see and not worried about an “aesthetic line”. Although I understand what we mean when we talk about the “artist style” and I can talk about things that I like or inspire me. I have a strong commitment with the things we try to name “reality”. That´s why when I make “The Star” I try to get involved with all the boxing mood. I know that the line of making art that I´m (TRYING) to fallow it´s a political one. We have a world that we need to change. 

Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film? 
The project already had approximately 90 pages of script when I met Mario Pereyro, a 60-year-old boxing trainer in charge of the most important gym of the Civil Association of Boxing Technicians in the province of Córdoba. He would be the one designated to train the actresses in the techniques and choreography that would be part of the film. At the same time, I met with a professional actor whose physical characteristics attracted me to the character of Miguel, the trainer in the film. However, as the training of the actresses advanced, in which I also participated by training, assisting the teachers or collecting anecdotes from that immense world, I saw how Mario surprisingly presented several of Miguel's characteristics. One icy winter night we met in the gymnasium to shoot the movie teaser. A very simple scene where Victoria would be training and her son sleeping in the stands of the gym. The actor who plays Miguel didn't show up due to certain circumstances. Julieta, my sister, Victoria's actress, approaches me and proposes to offer Mario the character of Miguel. Mario had never in his life stood in front of a camera, but I trusted him and his responsibility. We offered him and he automatically said yes. From that moment on, and thanks to that small decision, the project acquired a freshness and a very big impression of realism. Where the professional actors and actresses who shared (or did not share) the scene with Mario, felt revitalised and challenged to relate the naturalness of words and actions with which Mario performed. 

The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto brings what to mind? 
The thing that i really like about this manifesto is that it tries to bring a way of making  films thinking out of the industry. And it´s connected with my last answer. Manifestos must exist and they take place in their being. They are a way to talk and discus and thats why we are here. The Pink8 manifesto it´s also like a recipe for making movies but I would like to say something about it. To really understand what this (and all) manifesto it´s talking about, we need to know and understand the other ways of filming. This is the kind of question that i would love to answer it in a bar drinking a bear. 

What can we expect from your next film? 
This is a very difficult question to answer my friend. Right now I´m making my second movie. This time a documentary. It´s a movie that I´m making since 2016. Here I´m gonna let you the synopsis but I can´t talk no more about it because… I just don´t know where I´m going to, but I love it. In 2016 

Daniel Mollani, a former guitar concert artist and music teacher, they diagnose cancer. Daniel, on the verge of turning sixty, had been my teacher guitar for five years and one of my mentors in the artistic field. Paradoxically, his excellence with the guitar had not given him recognition, on the contrary, society had forgotten him, confining him to his home and his poverty. However, Daniel never lowered his arms and remained firm in the composition of works, writing in newspapers and novels never edited, always fantasising about the idea of shooting your own movie. For the next 4 years, Daniel ran away from his reality, began to ramble on time travel, with the ability to connect with your ancestors through of archival materials and I even have conversations with his pocket watch that he recorded with his new camera. I accompanied him teaching him to post produce his images, to think about your camera settings and to make your ideas come true. When Daniel showed me what he had been working on I couldn't believe the simplicity and sensitivity of their achievements. He had recorded the subtleties of life, the aromas and flavors that the rest of us could not capture mired in our work daily. Through cinema, he had found a new meaning in his life.