With her first feature, They Are All Dead, Beatriz Sanchis filmed in her home town of Madrid. She talks about her love of film and the lessons she learned on set.
I don’t think Spain is a good place now for any filmmakers. It’s a hard time there. It’s difficult to make movies, I think it is a little more difficult for women but it’s bad for everybody.
The hardest part was writing the film, it was my first screenplay, you are alone. It’s the most important part, to have a good script means you are able to get the actors and the money you want. During the shoot, we shot it in 5 weeks, it was very challenging; I looked at the schedule every day, the amount of sequences, it felt almost impossible.
My film is humble, a small film, but ambitious. It’s difficult to combine ambition and a small scale production. You have to think so fast and you have to rethink your original ideas, be flexible.
We had a month of rehearsals, I wanted to rehearse a lot, working with the actors is important for me. We rehearsed in the same house where we shot the film and we all created the space together. The art department created the set around us as we rehearsed; it was a beautiful process.
I love to try different things. There’s a scene in the film where the grandmother is high and she is telling a story to her son about what happened to him. When we started rehearsing she was playing it very serious and dramatic and sad, emotional, and I said try laughing, because you’re laughing at yourself, you’re high and everything you think you knew and did was wrong so you laugh at yourself. She laughed and it was perfect.
I come from a modest family so I couldn’t study film, it costs money. So I started working in film, I have worked in wardrobe, the art department, editing, production, all over. I started directing little pieces of video art, little shorts with no budget and finally I entered a competition for a car brand and they chose my script and my film won the contest.
I found a production company who was interested in me and my work and I made my first short documentary and it was great, we won awards – I was nominated for the Goya’s – like the Oscars for Spain.
It was a long road to get to this point. I know all the roles on a film set and I’m very involved with the music and I take acting lessons as well. I love it; I love everything to do with film, every role. To me everything in film is incredible.
Women’s characters in films are almost always “the wife”, “the girlfriend” “the mother” and I think there are actually huge stories for women. When women grow older especially, they become nothing, invisible.
I started telling women’s stories with this film, it was not intentional, but I want to continue writing women stories, of all ages, I think it is important. I have a woman producer and she supports me all the time.
I’m now writing a new feature film; a story of women but with an element which I love which is friendship between women.
My advice is let it flow; see more of what’s around you and what’s happening there at that moment. Don’t focus so much on what you planned. The times when I did that on my movie it was perfect. You know sometimes you are stressed and frustrated because the thing you have on the schedule you can’t do but when I left those stresses and that state of mind behind and became more present it was better.