Mario Alejandro Arias, Gabriela Alonso and Nicolás Martín • Directors of To Have Time
"We had no intention of creating a generational portrait"
- With their first feature film, of hybrid genre and the final project of their studies at ECAM, they have been selected at the Malaga Film Festival and Auteur Film Festival in Barcelona
We met with Nicolás Martín Ruiz (21) from Madrid, Gabriela Alonso Martínez (21) from the Canary Islands and Mario Alejandro Arias (23) from Ecuador in Madrid’s Plaza de la Paja, one of the many locations that feature in To Have Time [+see also:
interview: Mario Alejandro Arias, Gabr…
film profile], which the three of them edited and directed as a final project for their studies at ECAM - School of Cinematography and Audiovisual of the Community of Madrid. The feature film has just been screened at the Un impulso colectivo section of the D’A Film Festival in Barcelona after its premier last March in the Documentary section of the 25th Malaga Festival.
Cineuropa: Was there an idea or a script when you were filming (and editing) your film?
Gabriela Alonso: There was no script, we got to know the characters really well, we made a schedule with the locations and we filmed there, seeing what came up.
This was your final project... What have you learned at ECAM? How have you changed since you started there?
Nicolas Martín Ruiz: We were lucky enough to get on the documentary diploma course, which is the freest of them all and has the most challenging teachers, because they are leaders in Spanish non-fiction filmmaking. We discovered many kinds of directors and films there. And when it came to making the film, we started with no references, we went out on our own, and the film was a lesson in itself because, although we like Richard Linklater, we only worked with reality and the act of filming itself.
There was still a casting though, right?
Mario Alejandro Arias: We wanted to make a film that was close to us. We chose a range close to our age and announced a casting on Instagram. We wanted to tell the story of freestyle and that world; with this filter it spread around social media. After meeting several people, we saw Pedro, the protagonist: we liked him a lot because he was charismatic, with a gift of the gab and quite photogenic. He introduced us to his friends, and they were all relaxed in front of the camera, funny and interesting.
Because the three protagonists are musicians.
NMR: That was the crux of it, letting them freestyle with words and music, and us applying that same process to film. That's why the script disappeared when we filmed, and we worked with them in a random manner. We let ourselves be led by their impulses and those of the whole team: more by intuition. There was a fun atmosphere. Filming was a lot of fun and we tried to take the pressure off each other, with a very friendly vibe.
You had a great time then...
GAM: Filming was fun with the protagonists, as we laughed a lot at what came up. The editing not so much: we spent a month editing 30 hours of material and there was a deadline... but it was also a learning experience.
What has been the division of labour of this artistic trio?
MAA: There were always two cameras, we took turns between the three of us and the one who was free had the clapperboard. The three of us edited and we had a two-against-one rule, so if there was any doubt about a scene, the majority always won. And I did the production. It was terrible; I was surprised, but I learned a lot because we met very nice people, who let us shoot for free in great locations.
GAM: I should also point out that there was a horizontal approach to filming, both with the crew and the characters. We were all creating the film together, from the sound engineers to the natural actors themselves. Each one contributed an idea, and it became a reality.
MAA: The beauty of working with non-professional actors is adapting to them, without the pressure of anything scripted.
But was there a point to portray your generation? Do you see yourselves reflected in the film?
NMR: We went into the film innocently. We wanted to portray them, and we didn't intend to create a generational portrait. But, little by little, in the pre-production, as we got to know them, we saw ourselves reflected in them more and more and in the filming, even more so. And in editing we realised what we were talking about. But it is made out of empathy for them: it was a very invigorating period, with the elections and almost no masks.
GAM: We’ve been asked a lot if To Have Time is a generational portrait, but this was not intentional, we decided to film some kids who have some things to say. And then we identified with them, but it was completely unintentional.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)
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