Mario Alejandro Arias, Gabriela Alonso and Nicolás Martín • Directors of To Have Time
– With their first feature film, of a hybrid genre and the final project of their studies at ECAM, they were selected at the Malaga Film Festival and at the Auteur Film Festival in Barcelona
We met Nicolas Martin Ruiz (21) from Madrid, Gabriela Alonso Martinez (21) from the Canary Islands and Mario Alejandro Arias (23) Ecuador in the Plaza de la Paja in Madrid, one of the many places 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 graduation project at ECAM – Superior School of Cinematography and Audiovisual of the Community of Madrid. The feature film has just been screened in the Un impulso colectivo section of the D’A Film Festival in Barcelona after its premiere last March in the Documentary section of the 25th Malaga Film Festival.
Cineuropa: Was there an idea or a script when shooting (and editing) your film?
Gabriela Alonso: There was no script, we got to know the characters well, we made a schedule with the locations and we filmed there, seeing what was happening.
It was your graduation project… What did you learn at ECAM? How have you changed since you started there?
Nicholas Martin Ruiz: We were lucky enough to take the Documentary Diploma course, which is the most free of all and has the most demanding teachers, as they are the leaders of Spanish non-fiction cinema. We discovered many types of directors and films there. And in terms of making the film, we started with no references, we went it alone, and the film was a lesson in itself because, although we love Richard Linklater, we only worked with the reality and the act of filming itself.
There was still a casting, right?
Mario Alejandro Arias: We wanted to make a film that is close to us. We picked a lineup close to our age and announced a casting call on Instagram. We wanted to tell the story of freestyle and this world; with this filter, it spread on social networks. After meeting several people, we saw Pedro, the protagonist: we liked him a lot because he was charismatic, good at talkativeness and quite photogenic. He introduced us to his friends, and they were all relaxed on camera, funny and interesting.
Because the three protagonists are musicians.
NMR: That was the main thing, letting them play freely with the words and the music, and applying the same process to the film. That’s why the script disappeared during filming, and we worked with them randomly. We let ourselves be guided by their impulses and those of the entire team: more by intuition. There was a fun atmosphere. The filming was very fun and we tried to relieve each other, with a very friendly atmosphere.
You had a great time then…
MAG: The shooting was fun with the protagonists, because we laughed a lot about what happened. 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 was the division of labor of this artistic trio?
MAA: There were always two cameras, we took turns between the three of us and whoever was free had the clapperboard. The three of us rode and we had a two-to-one rule, so if there was any doubt in 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 places.
MAG: I would also point out that there was a horizontal approach to filming, both with the team and with the characters. We were all creating the film together, from the sound engineers to the natural actors themselves. Everyone brought an idea, and it became a reality.
MAA: The beauty of working with non-professional actors is to adapt to them, without the pressure of anything scripted.
But was there any point in portraying your generation? Do you see yourself reflected in the film?
NMR: We entered the film innocently. We wanted to represent them, and we did not intend to create a generational portrait. But, little by little, in pre-production, as we got to know them, we saw ourselves reflected more and more in them and in the shooting, even more. And during the editing we realized what we were talking about. But it’s done out of empathy for them: it was a very invigorating time, with the elections and almost no masks.
MAG: We have been asked a lot if To have time is a generational portrait, but it was not intentional, we decided to film children who have things to say. And then we identified with them, but it was completely involuntary.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)