Jose Luis Montesinos talks Award-Winning ‘Ropes’

After bagging two awards at Grimmfest 2020 Online Edition, Bloody Flicks got the chance to talk to ‘Ropes’ director Jose Luis Montesinos.

Where did the idea come from for Ropes?

I’ve always been interested in surviving characters. Those who use their common gifts to survive ahead in difficult circumstances.
In my first film we have taken it to the extreme. I wanted to talk about how someone who does not want to continue living ends up fighting for the opposite, to survive. That is Elena’s story, the story I wanted to tell.

Tell us about the writing process with Yako Blesa?

Yako and I have worked together for many years. We like to start from the characters, their backstory and then we give them their circumstances and their dramatic arcs. In ROPES we worked as if we were doing a work of engineering, trying to build all the sequences to awaken a tension in the audience, to place them in Elena’s chair. With few elements and very limited mobility, we had to squeeze our brains to find the different situations and solutions.
We document ourselves about the animal world and the disability suffered by the protagonist, both physically and psychologically, trying to give the film realism. It has been a lot of fun, as well as stressful.

Was it always important to show representation of a person with a disability as part of the story?

Yes always. We worked closely with the Guttmann clinic in Barcelona on the construction of a young character who had suffered an accident of these characteristics. We needed a character who had everything to lose in the story … to make the fight more impressive later.

Paula del Rio puts in some performance, tell us about her casting?

At first the character of Elena was to be played by an older woman (30 years old). We cast about 30 actresses for the main character, all of that age, except Paula. Her casting was incredible. We were all excited and decided to change the script to a character his age, 18 years. Paula is a very talented actress. He has managed to give the character a unique essence. It was a great challenge to play two characters, but she took it on with great professionalism and dedication, from the beginning and despite her young age.
He spent 3 months rehearsing on a wheelchair, talking to psychologists about the character’s mentality and working with me side by side. I can only thank her for giving so much for this movie.

Was it difficult working with animals during production?

Working with animals has been quite an experience. We had a great team that made things very easy for us (Mariona Monrós and David Cabrerizo, Espiona’s coaches). With animals everything is based on the game and that’s how we shot. If you listen to this movie with direct audio it becomes a comedy, because we continually played with the dog during each shot. We had to give Athos a dramatic arc as a character, give him personality and I think it was achieved between the work with coaches and the sound.

How long did the shoot last for?

Filming lasted 3 weeks and 3 days. It was very intense and we had to have everything very controlled, because time was short. We practise a lot with the dog (Espiona) and everything was very studied with the director of photography, Marc Zumbach.

How pleased are you with the reaction to Ropes so far?

I am very excited to see how different cultures approach the film. It has been released in more than 20 countries as far away as Japan or the United States and the story has reached the audience in the way we wanted to, so we are very happy. In addition, the film is making a magnificent tour of festivals, winning awards such as Grimmfest in Manchester or recently the best film at Feratum in Mexico, major genre festivals worldwide. I hope that everything that is happening with ROPES helps us to get our next project come true.

Ropes is available on Digital Download now.

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