We have a very special guest! A very twisted and brilliant one at that. Emerging director Marc Martinez Jordán is here to break down his bloody debut shocker: FRAMED.
I just finished seeing and reviewing the grisly new horror film Framed, which was the centerpiece production at the heart of the Portland Horror Film Festival. This was the young Spanish director’s first feature-length film, after having directed a couple of short films and some music videos, and you wouldn’t be able to tell that this was his first offering. Folks, Mr. Jordán graduated from film school in 2012. He’s a prodigy! It’s a confident, gorgeously shot film, and filled with some truly disturbing moments. You can see the Scariest Things review of the film HERE.
The morning after I posted my review of Framed, I was greeted with a Facebook request from Marc, and we exchanged our mutual appreciation; me for his movie, and him for my review. How cool is that? So very cool! I was also grateful that he read into my critique that though I thought some of the visceral terror that he put into the film made me, a hardened horror fan queasy, (which says as much about me as the film), I nevertheless believe that we have a bright star of a director working out of Barcelona. We are lucky that Mr. Jordán agreed to share his thoughts on his film with us, so without further ado…
To the interview!
TST: Congratulations on completing your first feature film! After seeing Framed, I have to admit that you have produced one hell of a debut feature. How would you describe the effort of putting a film like this together? Did you ever feel overwhelmed by the scale of what you were trying to achieve? How prepared were you for the logistics of making a feature-length film, compared to the commercial and music videos you have done?
MMJ: Thank you so much for your review of Framed, as I said to you previously, from my point of view it’s the most clever review ever made about my movie, so thank you so much!
Raising a movie like Framed was like learning to ride an airplane in one single day, looks impossible but if you are crazy enough maybe you can just learn to do the basic stuff in 24 hours. All the crew had never before been involved in a long feature film, it was the first time for all of us. I can absolutely confirm that I felt overwhelmed every single day during the production process. From writing the script to the final edition, every day was about making decisions and trying to make the right ones, this is probably the secret of good directors. Of course, I made right decisions, but I also made wrong ones. The short films or the commercials cannot prepare for the experience of shooting a long feature film, especially when it’s a very low budget movie. I think that nobody is prepared to shoot his first long feature, the key is making the right choices during the production stage and survive to the whole process, and of course, finishing the movie. If I can give some advice to anybody, it would be to prepare the movie as much as you can, storyboard, working with actors, etc… It will save time during the shooting.
TST: You managed to get some terrific performances out of your cast. Many first-time directors utilize their friends and family to assist with their initial productions. How well did you know your players going into this production? How did you decide on the casting?
MMJ: The actors and actresses of Framed have so much talent that probably directing them was the easiest part of the whole shooting process. They are so experienced that the characters they perform in the movie were practically built by themselves. I was aware of this talent so I was more focused in giving them technical indications than trying to build a background for the characters. Alex Maruny, who is a good friend of mine and also the main antagonist of Framed, helped me find the right cast. We search for young actors that had worked on tv and short films and would probably be interested in performing in a horror movie.
TST: The story hinges on Alex’s decision to leave Barcelona, and to have this fateful farewell party. It seemed clear from the introductory scene that the assailants liked to prepare for their victims. How did Alex Maruny and his team of crazies know about this party? Was this somehow an inside job?
MMJ: Hahaha, that’s a good question! Alex Maruny performs a character that is probably half meticulous / half crazy. The antagonist always gives some space to the improvisation, it’s important because you never know exactly what is going to happen when you try to torture some innocent people and streaming it online ;). Initially there is no clue to think that the invader had some information of what’s going on inside the house, but the location of the house itself is pretty cool to make a gory party inside (in the middle of nowhere, with few chances for the guests to escape and ask for help, etc…).
TST: You clearly had a strong take on the power of streaming media to be abused, and you also emphasized the sensational nature of how the news media can’t stay away from something horrific and end up enabling people to be more outrageous. Was there a moment or an event that drew your inspiration for the backbone of this story?
MMJ: Dude, I really believe social media is making people more and more stupid, and we have a problem here, because Einstein told once that the universe and the stupidity of humans are both infinite, so probably this decrease of intellectuality won’t ever end. I hate social media, but the world is actually configured in a way that if you don’t have an Instagram account you don’t exist, this is the problem, you can’t choose, the system doesn’t give you the chance to choose, because if you choose the wrong way, you are ignored. And this is only the beginning, our movements are being controlled, what we write, the posts we like, where we go, etc… This means manipulation, you don’t know anymore if you do something because you want or because the systems had convinced you to do this (in a very subversive way). We are fucked up, really. I disapprove of the way modern society is being built, the internet is the best invention every used in the worst way, we need to reset this shit man.
TST: I’m assuming there are services that will add subtitles to movies. Do you get any input or editing ability over the translation of the subtitles? Being that this was a Spanish spoken film, I found the dialogue very easy to follow, and never really noticed the subtitles. Hong Kong movies, for example, can have some really odd interpretations of the original script.
MMJ: Well, adding subtitles to a movie is a very harsh process. As a Spanish director, it’s so difficult for me to know if the English translation is well made and still preserves the “essence” of the original Spanish dialogues. In the other way, it´s also difficult to find out if the translation is made in a way that English spoken people will find adequate and natural. In conclusion, it’s an art that I’m not able to manage, so I let this part to a real professional, the translator hahaha!
TST: International horror films often times share personalities. J-horror (Japan) has a distinct way of handling their scary productions. Italy famously with their Grand Guignol stylings of the 1970’s with Fulci, Bava, and Argento. When I think of great Spanish horror, I think of Guillermo Del Toro and Balagueró. How do you think Spanish culture influences your particular brand of horror?
MMJ: Of course there’s a Spanish style of horror cinema, the cool thing about it is that every Spanish horror director has his own style and it’s practically impossible to put them in the same label, but for this reason, Spanish horror cinema is so well known. In my particular case, I feel that my influences are coming more from USA that from Spain, at least when we talk about horror as itself. The Purge, You’re next, or Evil Dead’s remake are some of my referents when I faced the creation of Framed. However, when we talk about the tone of my movie, for example, the comedy, is completely based on the situation that probably people from my country will find more funny that in other places. The psychology of the characters also was made in the Spanish way. It’s cool to use external references to make your movie, but I felt important to preserve something from my country to avoid the creation of an impersonal movie, a movie that doesn’t belong anywhere.
TST: Along those same lines, is there any single director who influenced you the most? Is it even a horror director?
MMJ: Whow, this question is kind of cruel dude! Stanley Kubrick is probably the director whose work I appreciate the most, it’s a genius, the shinning it’s an absolutely stunning horror masterpiece, and if someone does not agree with me, well, go fuck yourself! Anyway, Paco Plaza, James Wan, or John Carpenter are also some of the artists that I take as an absolute reference.
(Eric stands and applauds the Kubrik reference)
TST: Clearly, from your short films, (Particularly Los Inocentes) you got a chance to try out your gory special effects and your scare tactics. And folks, there are a LOT of gory effects in this movie. What was the most difficult of your special effects to pull off? Was that the most satisfying scene, or was there another one that is your favorite?
The cool thing about having fx in your movie is that if you make them feel realistic, the audience just freak out and the movie reaches a high new level of quality. The bad thing about fx is that you need money in order to make gory effects feel real. If you are like me, and you are immersed in a low budget production you are going to have a very “funny” time with that process. So what I did was talking an planning the shoot with a clear storyboard reference together with David Chapanoff (fx specialists) in order to define in the most possible way from which angles and how close the shoot is going to be. If you don’t define at 100% that, you’ll find during the shooting that the fx are not working properly and your movie is going to feel unreal. (I talk from the experience dude). The fx I feel more proud is when (spoiler alert) Sara eats his own arm. In this shoots the fx and the light of Yuse Riera matches perfectly.
(Eric winces in memory of the self-cannibalism moment… ohhhh that was rough.)
TST: I find it clever (or ironic, take your pick) that you named your film Framed. Something you have a real knack for is the framing of a shot, and you opened up the full crayon box of colors to use in the film. I really appreciate that instead of going for the found-footage route, with “shaky cam” cinematography, you opted to go the route of treating the movie like a painting. It would have been so easy just to shoot the film from the camera phone perspective, and you resisted that temptation. How would you describe your stylistic goals?
MMJ: Exactly, when you think about making a horror movie involving social media it’s so easy to conceive the story as a found footage feature. It’s cheaper and probably easier to shoot it in that way. However, the director of photography and me decided to push the image of the film to a particular look. We decided that we wanted an electric aesthetic, giving to each scene of the movie a predominant color, it’s like the characters are living in a world full of neons, something that reminds us to the classic Instagram filters, something extreme and characteristic. I’m so proud of how visually cool the movie is, Yuse Riera it’s a name you have to remember, it’s going to be a great cinematographer in the near feature.
TST: Framed is still working its way through the Film Festival circuit. Where can people next catch your movie? What are your hopes for a streaming release date, or better yet, a theatrical release date? What do you have coming up next?
MMJ: For now, as you said, we are focusing on the festival circuit, it’s our way to “promote” our movie over different countries, waking up some interest on the audience and some possible local distributors. Jinga films, a sales company located in London, is the ones who is actually taking care of the international sales of Framed. We expect by the end of this year to have some definitive news about when and where Framed will be available and in which countries you’ll be able find it. I hope to achieve a theatrical release in Spain, however, as a director, my final goal is to make Framed available for everybody in the best possible way. (I want a goddam fucking audience like the bad guy of my movie)
TST: Is there anything that you would like to share with the horror film community, while you have this platform? The written stage is all yours (at least for the next paragraph.)
MMJ: Of course, for everybody interested in our movie, on the next link you’ll be able to follow all the news related with Framed, follow us to stay tuned! facebook.com/framedthemovie.
TST: Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! I look forward to being able to hear how many people peed their pants watching this movie. It’s not for the faint of heart!
MMJ: Thank you so much Eric! It’s been a pleasure.