Director, screenwriter & produceR, Spain


“How did I become a director? It stems from a feeling that, I must admit, is pretty base: jealousy. When I was young, making films mainly seemed like a totally impossible dream and hopelessly out of reach. It was like being an astronaut. I thought that it was something only gods would be capable of becoming.

I have always been fascinated by this genre [fantasy films] because it is not a reflection of reality as we know it. It transforms reality and allows us to create other universes. [With Witching and Bitching] for budgetary reasons, we used digital effects to bring it to life, but I tried to give it a feel of those old fantasy films I love, in which the monsters were animated frame by frame. Today, you can have digitally-created creatures that can move around very quickly, with a dynamism that is often excessive. [...] But I love old-school monsters that walk slowly and you can feel their whole weight in every step [...].

That sequence was constructed like a kind of homage to fantasy cinema during that period. We did some motion capture tests, but I wasn’t happy with the results. It was too fluid, too fast. I didn’t get the feel of manipulation that I like in old-fashioned monster movies. So we decided to use pure animation.

And although the technology used is digital, the monster’s movement is closer to the big old monsters from the films of my youth.” “In a shot, just when you start to understand or to see the whole thing, I cut it. […] That creates a real feeling of unease, and that’s what I’m after. Before, I used to try to create beautiful shots, and I’d really linger over them. I’m not so interested in doing that now. When a shot is done, we move on to something else.

[…] When shooting a chase scene, you usually ask the actors not to run

too fast so you can follow them for enough time.

[…] On Muertos de Risa, I broke a camera. At one point, the characters had to fall on some rocks. Someone said, ‘Don’t put the camera there, it’ll break!’ I replied, ‘No, it’ll be fine. And if it gets broken, I’ll pay for a new one!’

And it broke, and I lost half my wages. [On 800 Bullets] we found the best way to work with the children was not to tell them what they were going to be doing. If we gave them too many details, it created tension and we lost any spontaneity. We had to put them in the situation the precise moment things were going to happen. […] What you have to be able to do in films is to generate your own universe. […] You mustn’t try to make Paris or Madrid pass for New York. It doesn’t make the film more international. It doesn’t work.

[Shooting a film in the US] is a whole other thing. I had to lose a part of myself. […] I really had to do some self-analysis and tackle things in a different way. I tried to integrate personal things, sometimes just hint at them, through puns and insinuations.

[…] It’s true, I do have a tendency to make films that end up somewhere high. […] Symbolically, films set in high places make me go crazy. I feel like because the characters are up high, they can only speak the truth. And then, when they fall, they are purified. I think that’s wonderful. […] I did it once, and people liked it. Twice, and they said I was copying myself. Three times and they said it was part of my style. And given that I’m still doing it today, I don’t even know where I am anymore!”

Selected Filmography

1991 MIRINDAS ASESINAS – court métrage *
1993 A CTION MUTANTE (Acción mutante) *
1995 THE DAY OF THE BEAST (Le Jour de la bête – El Día de la bestia) *
1997 DA NCE WITH THE DEVIL (Perdita Durango) *
1999 DY ING OF LAUGHTER (Mort de rire – Muertos de risa) *
2000 COMMON WEALTH (Mes chers voisins – La Comunidad) *
2002 800 BULLETS (800 Balles – 800 Balas) */**
2004 FERPECT CRIME (Le Crime farpait – Crimen ferpecto) */**
2006 FILMS TO KEEP YOU AWAKE: THE BABY’S ROOM (La Chambre du fils – Películas para no dormir: La Habitación del niño) – TV *
EL CÓDIGO – court métrage
HITLER LIVES! (Hitler está vivo) – court métrage *
2008 THE OXFORD MURDERS (Crimes à Oxford) */**
2008-2009 PLUTÓN B.R.B. NERO – TV *
2010 THE LAST CIRCUS (Balada triste – Balada triste de trompeta) *
2011 A S LUCK WOULD HAVE IT (Un jour de chance – La Chispa de la vida) *
2013 WITCHING & BITCHING (Les Sorcières de Zugarramurdi – Las Brujas de Zugarramurdi) *
2014 MESSI – doc

* also screenwriter
** also producer