DIRECTOR’S NOTESLejos del Mar
In 1995, after finishing the cycle of DíasContados, I began working on a new project, provisionally titled La Casa del Padre, for which I even did location work on the Costa Brava. But the film, like so many others, remained in the projects drawer because at that time there were neither the conditions nor the circumstances to tackle that kind of subject matter: the deep, intimate wounds caused by violence that reopen in the medium and long term. I needed perspective.
Twenty years later I rescued the subject, because I believe we now havethe beginning of the minimum conditions that will allow us to look into that precipice and try to reflect on the hatred, revenge, repentance or madness generated by those years of violence. And probably some more years will still have to pass before we can also talk of forgiveness and forgetting.
If, before, the action was going to take place on the Costa Brava, I have now set it in Cabo de Gata where I filmed Bwana, also in the 90s. That landscape, so beautiful and so terrible in its ruggedness, envelops perfectly the sterile, brutal meeting between our two protagonists, Marina and Santi.
We all know the importance of the actors’ work in a film’s result. It’s obvious. But at times it happens that there are favorable circumstances and they join your film even before the script is written or when you finish the first draft. And then, they generously offer you their work, their hopes, their obsessions and also their fears so that you can gather them up, reshape them and incorporate them into your project. And they become your accomplices. And you feel them there, at your side, and you bleed them dry on this voyage of discovery which developing a film becomes. Fortunately that has happened in Lejos del Mar. With all of them.
I admire, for example, the effort of someone who prepares conscientiously for a casting audition, going to Almeria to work on his character’s accent and then losing a huge amount of weight to get closer to him. And what can I say about the two protagonists on whom the dramatic arc of the film constantly pivots, and which they have built day by day, always looking for any opportunity, however small, to dress their characters in a range of colorsthat we had barely sensed while we were writing the script. What a privilege!
Also I’ve had the privilege of shooting my last films in isolated locations far from where most of us usually live. At time, I even wonder if in my subconscious that quality isn’t a priority when it comes to choosing a project. In any case, that circumstance has always improved communication and team work. In the case of Lejos del Mar this effect was multiplied spectacularly as for most of the time we were mainly concentrated on a beach, with its accesses and surroundings, of which we were the absolute lords and masters during a wonderful autumn, working of course from sunrise to sunset. I’ve always tried to make each and every member of the team accomplices of the story we’re telling, but I think that in this case we reached very notable levels of reciprocal involvement thanks precisely to those external circumstances which favored it.
Exactly the day after finishing the first draft of the script, I coincided at a film event with the Andalusian producer Antonio Pérez. I told him that I had just finished a story set in Andalusia and he asked to read it. Two days later he rang me to find out what the situation was with the project and four months later we started shooting the film. Unheard of!
If you add to this that Daniel Cebrián and I had started writing the script three months earlier, it turns out that there were barely seven months between the start of writing and the beginning of shooting when the idea of making the film had been going round in my head for almost twenty years. Incredible!
I’ve always believed that cinema and the circumstances surrounding it need some good doses of magic so that projects can flow, but in this care reality clearly surpassed my expectations.