Andrés Muschietti • Director
“Guillermo del Toro seeks talents to produce”
by Alfonso Rivera
- Mamá, directed by Andrés Muschietti and supported by Guillermo del Toro
Guillermo del Toro is supporting the feature length directing debut of Andrés Muschietti, a 39-year-old Argentine who has been living in Barcelona for over a decade. The filmmaker was trained in advertising and thanks to this terrifying story on maternity starring Jessica Chastain, he is now at the top of North American box office charts.
Cineuropa: Congratulations on the success of your film after its first weekend in the United States.
Andrés Muschietti: Thank you. It grossed $33.1 million. The film cost $20 million to make. We went round movie theatres to see how the public was reacting. There were many teenagers. There was a lot of anticipation for the film in the United States, perhaps because of the trailer, which was played in a number of different mediums. The public seemed tense from the first second: they were screaming even when nothing was happening. It was incredible.
In spite of the familiar tenebrous aspect of your first feature length film, you work side by side with your sister Barbara, co-producer and co-screenwriter of Mamá.
We talk a lot because we are very different, but we compliment each other when it comes to work. She is my associate in the Toma 78 production company.
How did the coproduction with Canada work?
They took care of 70% and Spain 30%. The alternative was filming the movie in Spanish with a national production or making it more international, filming it in English, with foreign partners.
Is it true that Mamá is more appealing to a female public?
Yes, although it wasn’t something that was sought when the script was being written. The film’s sensitivity connects more with them and their maternal instinct: it narrates a struggle between mothers, the only man quickly disappears.
What was the most complicated moment when it came to Mamá’s production?
One of our biggest preoccupations was finding credible girls, because they were the film’s main characters and the film really depended on them: girls in a wild state who are brought into a city, one reconnects with her past and embraces her human side, the other doesn’t. Another difficulty was to get intense emotions out of them. Most of them had already been in films, except for the youngest who was very disoriented. We also needed to create a terrifying and credible monster: we combined a made up actor (Javier Botet) with digital effects.
Mamá was born from a three minute short by the same name. How did it grow to become a feature length film?
The short left a lot of questions unanswered. Those questions needed to be answered. Why did both girls call the creature mother? What is the relationship that ties them together? When we were filming the short Mamá, there was no story, it was just a sequence devoid of reason. That’s where the concept of the unexpected arises, which fascinates me. This idea unlocked the story and took it in a very clear direction.
Guillermo del Toro saw the short in Sitges? He is a regular there…
No, the short created a racket at the festival in 2008, but he didn’t see it until months later, when his assistant sent it to him. Guillermo watches a lot of shorts, on the lookout for talents to be produced.
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