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Interview with Alex & David Pastor - August 2013

Alex & David Pastor - August 2013

Among the myriad of summer blockbusters that invade our screens, Pastor brothers offer us an intelligent end of the world movie, intimate and committed, "THE LAST DAYS", featuring Quim Gutiérrez, José Coronado & Marta Etura in a Barcelona plagued by a strange epidemic of agoraphobia.
Interview with Alex & David Pastor, who already directed another apocalyptic movies, "CARRIERS".
Oh My Gore ! : "You already referred your way of working, the fact that you do everything together without one or the other having his preferred field. Is that working between brothers who probably know each other perfectly, is an advantage or can it cause problems that you would not have with a simple colleague?"

David & Àlex Pastor : "It's definitively an advantage. There's trust and confidence in the other, without rivalry or jealousy. To have a partner, an accomplice even, to tackle the huge endeavor that it's a movie, it's a privilege, but, in our case, because we grew up together and we share a very similar sensibility and special understanding, we feel twice as lucky. There's a silent communication that makes the work much easier and fun."

"The 2 films you directed take place in an end of the world context. Is it something you particularly dread? Maybe an obsession? Are you afraid about the future of mankind?"

"We are obviously interested in this particular genre. It allows you to put regular people in extraordinary circumstances and see how they react, how the best or the worst of them comes out. We also feel that we are in a very insecure moment in history. There are many threats to the way we've been living until now (climate change, the global economic crises, terrorism) and that makes you wonder how much for granted can we really take the world around us. Having said that, you also have to understand how the film industry works. Putting together a movie is very difficult. You develop many different kinds of projects, the majority of which fall apart or get stalled, and only one eventually turns into an actual movie. In this case, it was a coincidence that both were post-apocalyptic. Our second film could've been a love story, a children's movie or a western."

"Are you particularly fans of post-apocalyptic movies? If yes, which ones?"

"Of course we are. Some of our favorites are "MAD MAX" (the first one), "TIME OF THE WOLF", "PLANET OF THE APES" (spoiler alert! It was Earth all along!), "DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS" (the novel. There was a British tv show when we were kids but we have very vague memories of it)."

"You talked about Luis Buñuel with his fantastic "EL ANGEL EXTERMINADOR" and Alfonso Cuarón with "CHILDREN OF MEN". Is George Romero's "DAWN OF THE DEAD" also a part of your influences?"

"This will be a little embarrassing to admit to the readers of OHMYGORE but the truth is that we had never seen the original "DAWN OF THE DEAD" until a few months ago, when we were editing the movie. We had seen "NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD" and "DAY OF THE DEAD", but, for some reason, not the second one of the trilogy!!! When we finally saw it, though, it was like we had seen before, because there are many many things that other films that we'd seen have borrowed from Romero's movie."

"In "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS", you call to a lifestyle closer to nature, a return in healthier values, in more authenticity. Is it a personal commitment which means a lot to you, something that you apply to your everyday life? If yes, how does that translate concretely ?"

"To be totally honest, we are closer to Marc, the protagonist of the film, at the beginning of the movie than at the end of his journey. Like him, we live very modern, sedentary lives, always surrounded by screens, very disconnected from nature. So the movie is our way to question ourselves and ask if we are making the most of our lives, if we are living in the most fulfilling way possible."

"Since a few years there are many extremely interesting projects in what is call ‘collaborative consumption'. Do you think the movie can help people to adopt a more united state of mind?"

"It's hard for us to think that a movie can truly change people's mind. What it can do is to dramatize and give shape to those inner doubts, those thoughts in the back of your head that you are not fully aware of. By putting them in front of you, you become more conscious, more aware, and then, maybe, just maybe, more likely to do something about them."

" "CARRIERS" deals with the lowest instincts of man. In "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS", man becomes better over his journey. Finally do you have faith in humanity?"

"Like anybody else, we have good days and bad days. Days when we feel hope for the world and humanity, and days when we open the newspaper and the only thing we can do is get furious. And our films reflect that. We like to say that both movies are opposite sides of the same coin. In the case of "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS", the movie is hopeful because the characters find redemption and fulfillment through a more natural way of life. They regress to being hunter-gatherers, to using their bodies in the ways that were always intended (to find sustenance and shelter, not to sit in front of a computer 8 hours a day). But there's also a dark side to the film, because the world before the apocalypse, the modern world that we, the audience, live in is portrayed as cold, numbing and soulless."

"Except the fact that shooting in Spain must have considerably reduce the production costs of "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS" to finally obtain a more ambitious result than your US movie, "CARRIERS", what does it mean to you to come back shooting in Spain in your mother tongue after your American experiment?"

"When you shoot in Europe, or at least in Spain, you have a great more deal of creative freedom than in the US. And that comes from the trust and confidence that the producers and financers have in the filmmakers. They are involved in the creative process, they have their opinions, and you don't always agree, but they are more willing to listen to you, to try to understand and respect your vision. The relationship is more leveled. On the other hand, when you work for an American studio, they own the movie completely and, if there are disagreements, they will try to impose their opinions on you. The process becomes much more political and you have to learn to navigate it diplomatically."

" "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS" has already been released in Spain. How was it received?"

"It was great. Of course, you can't please absolutely everybody, and I'm sure some people didn't like it, but, as much as we know, the buzz online was really positive and we had some really good reviews."

"What do you think of Spanish cinema and Spanish fantastic movies?"

"Spanish cinema right now is going through a very paradoxical moment. On one hand, from a creative point of view, it's in very good health. There's a great boom of talent, with very exciting directors making very different kinds of movies (Bayona, Balagueró, Plaza, Morales, Paulo...). As in the rest of Europe, Spanish filmmakers are taking American genres and subverting them, revitalizing them through a darker, more subtle European sensibility. On the other hand, in pure economic terms, it's terribly ill. There's been a constant decline in the Spanish box office for the past 10 years, and 2013 is being a disaster. Spanish people are not going to the movies for many different reasons (the VAT increase, piracy, the recession...) and that's making very hard to produce a film in Spanish language. The future will be English-language projects that you can sell all over the world, and that's a loss of cultural and cinematic diversity."

"With authors such as Carlos Ruiz Zafon (and filmmakers like Pedro Almodóvar which takes us into popular areas of Spanish cities), Barcelona is highlighted, celebrated. Was it a real desire to shoot in this city and making it a character in its own right?"

"Absolutely. We were born and grew up in Barcelona so bringing the apocalypse home was a pleasure for us. Like we always say, when the world ends, it will end for everybody everywhere, be it New York, London, Paris, Tokyo or Kiev... and we wanted to be the first to destroy our hometown. Also, setting the movie in Barcelona allowed us to focus on regular people immersed in a huge catastrophe, having their personal story of survival, instead of having to show the Pentagon trying to find a cure to the global pandemic. Nobody really expects Spain to save the world!"

"What are your next movie projects?"

"Well, this year there are two movies being shot written by us, which is a new experience for us. There's "OUT OF THE DARK", a haunted house movie directed by Lluis Quilez (they shot it in Colombia in the spring and are currently editing it) and "SELF/LESS", a scifi thriller directed by Tarsem Singh, currently in pre-production. They'll shoot in the fall.

On the other hand, as directors, we are developing "STRANGE BUT TRUE", a dramatic thriller about a family who lost their teenage son, Ronnie, in an accident. Five years later, the son's girlfriend reveals that she's pregnant. She only had sex with Ronnie, the night he died, so he has to be the father somehow. It's a mystery with incredibly rich characters that explores the way people grieve and overcome loss. In this particular case, we didn't write the script. Eric Garcia wrote it, based on the novel by John Searles. Fred Berger, the producer, sent us the script and we immediately fell in love with it. We knew we had to direct it. We didn't write it, but we wish we had written it. It's the first time we would direct someone else's script, but we're completely open to that. We know that there's people out there who are better writers than us, and we want their scripts!"

"Thanks for this interview. One last word for the French audience?"

"I would ask them to please, keep going to the movies. In France, you have a healthy, rich and diverse film industry and the only way to maintain that is by having a faithful audience that sustains and supports it with their tickets. And of course, I'd invite them to come and watch "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS". It's an apocalyptic movie full of adventure thrills but also heart and hope."

Read our french "LOS ULTIMOS DIAS" movie review.
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