The worst thing a film can do is bore the audience
Spanish film maker Oriol Cardus studied filmmaking in ESCAC (Barcelona, Spain) and started directing TV commercials and writing/directing short fiction films in 2006. He talks about making his first short fiction film 600$, which was part of the Jagran Film Festival amongst various film festivals in the world and is winning accolades for it’s fresh and engaging story line.
Please tell us about your film 600$.
The idea of this film came to me a few years ago. While on a trip, I met some people from Colombia and Mexico and befriended them. They shared several stories about hit-men and violence in their countries. These stories shocked me because luckily, we don’t have these kind of things happening where I live. And even though the idea for the script didn’t come to me until a year later, I knew there was something worth telling. The names of the film’s characters are also inspired from the names of my Colombian and Mexican friends. However, after I had written the script, I still had to wait a few years to shoot it, until I got the money and the crew. It’s been quite a long process but I feel it took the time it needed.
Have films on gangsters and the Mafia always attracted you?
It’s not that Mafia and gangster films are my only favorites, but yes I definitely adore them, especially, The Godfather trilogy, Goodfellas, Casino, Un prophète, etc. The stories in these films fascinate me. What I look for in a script is a good story. If I think I’ve found one then I don’t care what genre it is.
You have played with ‘conflict’ in the whole film. Every few minutes there is a turnaround in the story. Comment
I think the most important thing in a film are the characters, and characters need conflict. That’s why I like to work on that and know what is going on in their heads all the time. What are they fighting for? What are their goals? What makes them angry, scared etc. So the film becomes their path to get what they want while facing their fears and problems. The other thing I love in films (both as audience or director) is not being able to anticipate what comes next. I think the worst a film can do is bore the audience so I try to keep them engaged to the story and keep surprising them. This way the audience is thrilled and they get involved with what they see, so watching the film becomes an exciting experience.
600$ though a gangster film is more about friendship than about guns. You don’t see blood, guns, violence in the whole film except the first few seconds. Instead you use humor to terrify. What was the thought behind it?
I love dark humor because it let’s you talk about serious things in a funny way and that’s what I tried to do in 600$. I think the short film talks about some serious (sometimes even dramatic) stuff but at the same time the audience has a good time while watching it, and I think that’s great because they get the message while enjoying the experience. And yes, I think that the real story of 600$ is not violence but redemption, friendship and what value we give to lives and that’s why I focused more on these subjects than the violent part. Violence and Mafia are the environment, but the main story is about this man called Julian and what makes him change the way he lives.
Your film has been selected in around 40 film festivals all over the world and has also won various awards. What does it mean to you to have non-Spanish speaking countries appreciate your first film?
It’s something amazing and completely unexpected. Even though I think it’s a universal story, I was not sure that the humor of the film would work well everywhere. Sometime differences in culture, language and things alike, can make something funny in one place and completely offensive in the other. But luckily that’s not been the case with 600$. We have been selected in many festivals all around and the reactions from the audience have always been great. I guess this is what makes cinema so universal and I’m very happy it’s been this way!
What motivates you to write and direct? Tell us about your background as a filmmaker.
I studied cinema in Barcelona (at ESCAC) and, as far as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make movies. Since I was a kid I’ve always loved films and wished that I could make one someday, so I’ve always been working towards that goal. Now, mainly I work as a director of TV commercials but I keep writing scripts. And whenever time and circumstances permit I direct the script I write. A good idea motivates me to write, and then a good script inspires me to direct. If I have an idea that I think is worth telling and something the audience will enjoy and love, I go for it. Making films is that instinctive to me.
Tell us about your experience of making a small budget gangster film. How did you build your team?
Luckily I have lots of talented friends from the film industry (both from cinema school and TV commercials) who are as passionate about cinema as I am and that made it easier to build the team. The entire cast and crew got involved in the film as partners and that’s why we could shoot it with the little budget we had. Also some companies helped us by lowering their prices. However, it was not easy to make it and we had some delays (with more money all the process would have been faster), but in the end the passion of the whole team was strong enough to deal with all the problems. We faced things together and I feel that was the beauty of making 600$.
Who are the filmmakers from the world that inspire you?
There are many filmmakers I really like and lots of films I love. I like contemporary as well as classic filmmakers. It’s difficult to pick and list some names (and I can’t name all of them here) but Tarantino, Woody Allen, Scorcese, Coppola, Kurosawa, Chaplin, Hitchcock or Rohmer would definitely be in the list.
Can you talk about your future projects?
I am writing a feature film right now and a short film is in pre- production stage. Though the dates are not finalized I hope by next spring I’ll have the short film ready. But the feature film will probably take longer to go on floors. They both have some dark humor and I hope they are liked by the audience as much as 600$.