Spanish filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo burst onto the international genre scene with his superb, haunting thriller Timecrimes, his first feature film. But before that, he had already earned an Academy Award nomination for his short film 7:35 in the Morning in 2003. Through the years, he has continued to make extremely clever and often hilarious shorts, while working in television, developing his own feature-film projects, and acting on TV and in movies.
He followed up Timecrimes with the sci-fi comedy Extraterrestrial, and has recently been working on Open Windows, his first English-language project starring Elijah Wood and Sasha Grey, and also Supercrooks, cowritten with outspoken comic book writer Mark Millar (Kick-Ass). His short film A Is for Apocalypse kicks off horror anthology The ABCs of Death with a shot of good, dark humor.
Movies.com talked with Vigalondo recently about the challenge of making short films, violence in movies, working in the English language, and his first encounter with death.
Movies.com: You've made a number of short films on your own, but this is different because of the format (and because it's part of an anthology). Did you find the format more challenging and/or difficult? Or did it free you up to do whatever you wanted, knowing that 25 other filmmakers were doing the same thing?
Nacho Vigalondo: Every time I´m making a short film, I try to do my best. I want to make something that would make me proud in terms of quality, and also a product that feels like “me,” something you can put next to my features on the same shelf because they share the same themes, the same worries. This time it was a similar situation, but following a tiny set of rules. If I´m free in creative terms (and this anthology was based in creative freedom), I´m fully responsible for the result, and that´s challenging, but as it always should be. Having said that, I can affirm A is for Apocalypse is my third film, after Extraterrestrial.
Movies.com: Recently, violence in movies has received closer attention in the U.S. How is violence in movies viewed in Spain? Has it become a controversial issue there as well?
Vigalondo: Not these days, as we don't have an open debate regarding violence in society at the same level as you. It was different in the '90s, when sensationalism was high in the media and we had creepy crime stories on the front page every week, but things have changed. People are more into celebrities and terrorism these days. That means violence doesn´t bring any economic and political reward for the media, so we get rid of a lot of bullshit when it comes to violence in films. I’m totally sure things will change, as they always do.
Movies.com: You've worked in television, made short films, and also feature films. Do you prefer to work in one medium over another?
Vigalondo: I´m actually writting a graphic novel for a Spanish publishing house, a horror story called Have Sex Now. If this works, I’ll continue writing comics. I have a lot of ideas accumulated, and, being realistic, I have to face the fact that not all of them will become movies, so maybe comics are a good way to explore them.
Movies.com: You've written most of your projects, but you've lately been collaborating with Mark Millar on Supercrooks. What are the challenges of collaboration with such a strong creative force?
Vigalondo: I feel extremely lucky about this, not only because I was a fan of Mark Millar long before we came to meet and work toguether, but also because of the chemistry that worked throughout the process. We have exactly the same kind of humor, and we have similar principles about the working process. The writing was unusually funny and fast, and without a single ego fight.
Movies.com: What can you tell us about Open Windows and working in the English language? Do you feel completely comfortable?
Vigalondo: The movie is kind of the next step in found-footage films. We are not faking a camera, but a laptop. The whole story is followed through this laptop screen in a single take, in real time, through all the windows that get opened, such as webcams, Skype conversations, and streaming videos. Basically, this is an excuse to tell a fast thriller filled with twists, in the giallo tradition I tried to follow in Timecrimes.
I worked with a good team, from the script translation to the kind actors, and I hope nothing was corrupted in the translation. If I failed, I´m so stupid I haven't realised yet.
Movies.com: How old were you when you first became aware of death? What was your reaction?
Vigalondo: What I remember is the night I was suddenly aware of the other's death. I was five or six years old, and I suddenly realised I was getting taller than my grandma. I suddenly got smashed by the fact that time was moving on and, one day she wouldn't be there. I spent a long time devastated by the idea of death surrounding me, rather than pointing at me with its finger. I was living in a small town, in a poor working-class area, and that´s the reason I didn't become an early gothic. I´m afraid of death as anyone else, but every time I finish a film, my fear is 10% down.
Check out the official Tumblr page. http://theabcsofdeath.tumblr.com/
The ABCs of Death is now available on Cable VOD, iTunes, Amazon, Xbox Zune, Playstation Market, VUDU and Google Play; in theaters starting March 8th from Magnet Releasing.