Hello, thank you for agreeing to this interview. To begin, I’d like to ask – how do you think technology influences the way we interact with people today?
Marisa: You are welcome!
It is undeniable that technology has changed the way we relate, and that it often does not contribute to enriching our relationships. We live continuously in a shop window, subject to the opinion of others. And it is surprising what some people do to get followers or likes. I think this thought is quite reflected in our last short, 9 STEPS. The film switches tone wonderfully throughout and keeps the audience on its toes; how important is it to ensure, particularly with thrillers, that you keep the audience unsure as to where the film is going? For us it’s fundamental, not only in thrillers. A lot of our works have a final twist that takes the viewer to unsuspected places. We could say that it’s the brand of the M+M (it’s our artistic name).
Moises: Nobody knows how technology is going to influence new generations. At this moment It give us a lot of contradictions. Some people feel really lonely in their real life and they try to avoid this feeling spending hours and sharing pictures showing a fake happiness with fake friends on social media. It is very weird and sad.
What do you think the film has to say about modern masculinity?
Marisa: Actually, the film talks about classic masculinity and the myth of “men don’t cry”. Both Moises and I had very classic fathers when it comes to masculinity, and we know that this kind of masculinity still exists in many cultures today. But fortunately, things are changing. For example, Jordi, the actor who plays the father, admitted that he had a really bad time when he had to shake the child. Even though Pablo, the child actor, took it as a game. Jordi is a father and did not conceive of talking and treating badly a child who is afraid.
Moises: We are Spanish. We invented the “macho” concept word. Not many years ago, even now, if you are a kid and you are male, you are not allowed to be scared, to cry or to even show any feeling. My father never showed any feeling, never kissed me or was affectionate towards me. He was a “real man”. As authors, we are against this macho culture.
Is there something different, do you think, in the way in which psychological thrillers are produced in Europe and in particular Spain to the rest of the world?
Mairsa: Right now, in Spain, there is a wave of films that are being produced on a limited budget, with an original and risky idea. We think it’s a very interesting moment, especially considering that our next feature film project will also be a psychological thriller.
Moises: I think we could differentiate the psychological thrillers between Hollywood and the rest of the countries where the industry machine is not so big, so the author can take his or her own vision and takes his risks. For instance, I love the Korean movie “Parasite”, it is fantastic. Of course, in a lot of countries they try also imitate American movies, they make a copy-paste script and they can lose the personality.
What was the casting process for the film like?
Marisa: After several castings, we finally found Pablo. He’s not an actor, and he’s never played before. But Pablo is a very talented child. Despite his young age (he was only 7 years old when we shot) we quickly got along with him. We had a lot of complicity. We rehearsed for a month and during the shooting he behaved like a small professional (despite being his first experience in front of the camera).
Jordi is an actor with a lot of experience and with him it was all very simple. They have a great talent, and everything was easy. We were very lucky with the cast.
Moises: 9 STEPS is very simple. The adult actor is professional, and we made a deal easily with him. On the other hand, we spent several months until we found the 7-years-old actor.
What has the reception to the film been like?
Marisa: 9 Steps has won to date almost 140 awards. We are very satisfied with the reception it has received at festivals. But what amazes us the most is the reaction of the audience during its screening. The audience empathizes with the child completely and for 7 minutes we take them by the hand through a dark corridor. Many spectators recognize that they feel again that fear that you only feel as a child.
Moises: It has been the first time we have worked with horror elements and we didn’t know if we could scare with 9 STEPS. We sent a work in progress version in a known horror film festival full of gente fans. The audience enjoyed the film very much. It was like a test for us, we were very nervous, and we left the cinema very happy.
How does this film compare to other films you’ve worked on?
Marisa: 9 steps is much simpler at the production level than our last jobs. For the rest, although all our films are very different, it reflects several of the themes that obsess us most, such as family relationships, and has a child as the protagonist, as in many of our short films.
Moises: Each project is different and has specific difficulties. For a reason that I still don’t understand, all our films have starred children except one… that it starred a dog (laughs). We also try to use few elements, few actors and places, perhaps we have been used to do it for economic reasons. We also work a lot on the scripts trying to surprise the audience. Otherwise, they’re all very different: we’ve directed social drama, romantic comedy, LGTB comedy even suspense or terror.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this film?
Marisa: We hope they have a good time and feel like children again. But we also hope that, after the screening, as adults, they will reflect on the emotional heritage and values that parents transmit to their children.
Moises: As in all our works, we hope that audiences will be entertained, if possible surprised, and that after the viewing they will spend some time thinking and reflecting.
What future projects have you both got planned?
Marisa: Right now, we’re working on the 9-step feature film project, but as it goes forward, we continue to develop new ideas.
Moises: We are always working on projects that are at different stages of development. We shot 9 STEPS the short film as a sample for a feature film that we would like to shoot in 2020. We are also writing other feature film projects. Let’s cross our finger.
With thanks to Marisa and Moises.