I bring you here an interview with J.A.Andrés Lacasta, director of the shortfilm “Epilogue of the death Faun”, that is being selected in several dance film festivals. He won the recognition of the “Best National Dancefilm” in my [C]Screen festival this year.
Hello, J.A. Andrés, thanks for accepting this interview. First of all, can you make me a quick introduction of who you are?
Hello, I am from Huesca (Spain) and I am doctor in Sociology of Law and graduated in Work Science. I studied too in the Fine Arts Professional School and I specialized in intaglio printing and audiovisual, after this I did a Master in Screenwriting.
My artistic work basically concentrates on video installation and videoart, and my works have been exhibited in several places, individually and as collaborations, signed with my name or under pseudonyms.
In cinema, I have co-written the script of three featured documentaries: “La Nakba permanente”, “Una mujer sin sombra” and “Tras Nazarín”. I also co-directed “La Nakba permanente” and I have participated in the production and screenwriting of other shortfilms, the last one being “Epilogue of the death of Faun”, which I have also directed.
I want to congratulate you for “Epilogue of the death of Faun”. I think this shortfilm offers a curious vision of the mythological character Faun, how he would feel in the lands of nowadays. Can you tell me where it came that idea and why it’s an epilogue?
Thank you very much.
In reality, I wanted precisely to reflect Faun (in this case Fauna, because it’s a woman) nowadays, and the result is a tired and dying character who is in consonance with the inexorable dryness of the planet and, what I call, the gradual invasion of the trash. The shortfilm tries to put this subject in evidence and denounce it.
According to mythology and the poem by [Stéphane] Mallarmé “L’après-midi d’un Faune” (Afternoon of a Faun), on which my piece is based (and also the original music of Debussy and Nijinsky “Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune”), Faun was a being whose force, seduction ability and power was based in the splendour of a beautiful, wild and unleashed nature.
From that point, my idea to create the epilogue to that prelude was born, where the problem of the environmental degradation looks every time more like a no return journey to a post-mortem fate without salvation. This underestimation and utilitarianism of the nature was what made us incorporate elements linked with women and genre, and there is where the film has its most evident dramatic height.
We can distinguish very well two sides among the characters, their position and their desires. How was the creation process of Faun and the Nymphs? And the clothing?
Debussy didn’t finish the composition of the Symphonic Poem he started the Prelude with and I, naively, dared to think of ending it, musically and also from the point of view of ballet. So, I followed the path of the original compositions to extend the Nymphs and Faun psyche, who were fully built characters. But I obviously introduced some variations, in first place because I changed the genre of the characters: Women-The Fauna and her suite / Men-Nymphs troops.
The Fauna’s group seems to give up, beaten and left for dead; trying to revitalize and recover their dignity in innermost spaces where the plants barely survive, surrounded by dryness and detritus. By contrast, the Nymphs have become hitmen and dry who base their supremacy on the annihilation of the nature, meaning that Fauna’s group is the last stronghold to conquest and submit. The fight will be tough.
Concerning the costumes, we had two important conditions: an obvious one was that costumes allowed us to emphasize the difference between one group and another; and concerning the colors (white-black), they had to be like that because of the contrast that the shooting required to not have cinematographic problems to distinguish the dancers and the choreography details in front of the elaborated and motley backgrounds.
Why did you choose dance to explain the story? Had you worked with choreographers or dancers before?
Like I was explaining, the origin and the sources of the project were born from dance, so the language from where I imagined the film was inexorably dance.
I had never worked with dancers in a film but I had on stage, I designed some scenographies and elements for dance shows. Moreover, at home we are enthusiasts of ballet and we are up to date because my partner was a professional dancer for more than 15 years. The collaboration with LaMov Company and its director and choreographer Víctor Jiménez has been wonderful.
We can see very curious landscapes, specially the mountains of metal and other objects that give the idea of an abandoned and devastated realm, not typical of the mythological Faun we know, but of his decadence. How did you find the location? Did you have to change anything or was the place like this?
For me, a film is always born from an accumulation of experiences and observations that between them were creating your own imaginary.
At the origin, I always imagined the film in a landfill, and not just any landfill, but a very concrete one that is next to my neighbourhood in Huesca where I was raised and I played with the rest of the kids visiting it frequently. Over time, I have visited it on a regular basis, now converted in a modern center of urban rubbish management, because it continues to be a very interesting place for its terrain, closeness and uninhibition of the birds that live there, as the “exciting” and “weird” exercise of sociological voyeurism that the neighbourhood kids practiced and was related with the observation of the people’s trash. And there we shot.
After this main set, I worked hard on searching junkyards, other recycling centers, dry landscapes with plastic wastes moved by the wind… and little by little I was composing the art of the film. Some sets had to be rebuilt so they could be filmed, specially adapt the surfaces so the dancers did not have any risk of injuries; for that, the collaboration with the technicians and grip operators of the centers where we were shooting was key.
What was the most difficult thing of the shooting?
The shooting went very well and very fluid because the coordination of all the team was perfect and we had a great time together. The production and shooting schedule were programmed to the millimeter and we had rehearsed a lot in order to do it as quick and effective as possible.
The biggest problem we found, on one side, was related with the awful heat we had those days, combined with the fact we were in a landfill of organic trash, plastics and other, so the smell was difficult to cope with sometimes. But we were prepared and all the people had a positive and professional attitude.
On the other side, another problem which we didn’t count on was that while we were shooting with ferric wastes, they generated very strong magnetic fields; that made that the drone responded haphazardly to the remote orders of the pilot and it crashed against an enormous, many meters high mountain of scrap metal, but we could solve it.
The low budget you indicated at the submission of this project caught my attention, any note thereon?
For me, an important key every time I shoot or I produce a film is related with a very serious and thorough pre-production work. As a reference element, I like to start from “the most” in the plan and from there I go down in the optimization of the expenses and dispense with something that we would love to have but the budget doesn’t allow. Also, we were sure that we would shoot once we had the required resources to do it and forget asking favors, loans or things like these. I can say that everybody was paid for their job and, I have to add, we could take some things forward thanks to exchanges with other kind of works and collaborations in other productions, as well as the participation of the Audiovisual Lab of the Ayuntamiento de Zaragoza in the post-production.
We can include perfectly your shortfilm inside of the screendance genre, what does this mean to you?
For me, it is a field that attracts me a lot and it has some communication registers that I want to keep exploring and I need to grow and learn. To put it somehow, my traditional profession in cinema and video (and the one I enjoy the most and I am more prepared for) is a screenwriter, and the fact to tell stories without using the word -with the audiovisual language “orthodoxy”-, and with the expressive possibilities that dance leaves at my disposition, is an extremely attractive challenge.
For a lot of screenwriters, the fact to dispense with the word to structure a story is a kind of unthinkable oxymoron, however, for me, it looks like a great opportunity: let’s say that, in the swatches of cinematographic narrative resources, I have replaced the traditional pigments and binder to other, that are not new, of course, but that need to be sewn very well so they can accomplish their function, and from there, generate a new and unique cinematographic grammar. In my case, all this implies (between other things) that I need to meet sine qua non the requirements of the dance discipline and also adapt to the choreographer, who gives the clapperboard order to the dancers once I say that all is ready. In the end, a pleasure.
Do you have a website or social network where we can follow you?
We are still building it because we have just created it but in short it will be fully functional: www.factoryducardelin.com
Thank you very much for your time and your answers, J.A. Andrés. I hope to see more works from you in the future.
Thanks to you and good luck with your festival, we loved to have participated and had our Faun screened in [C]Screen.
Translation to English by Eva Campos Suárez
Correction by David Menéndez Auckland