Ahead of its UK premiere at Soho Horror Film Festival‘s Shockdown Saturdays this weekend, Bloody Flicks caught up with El Cerro De Los Dioses director Daniel Munoz Caneiro –
Tell us about the genesis of the film?
EL CERRO DE LOS DIOSES was conceived during the Sitges International Film festival in 2018 in which I was awarded for Best Promising Director. At the festival I met Itziar Castro, Jaume Ulled, Will Shepard and Mariam Bachir and we decided to collaborate together on a project. A year before I had written a short synopsis for a story about the world of fame and its consequences in which a youtuber, a film director and an actress were invited to a small town under the false promise that they would get an award for their careers. And I have always been attracted to the idea that to be famous it was not worth just having some kind of skill, but that today with a simple pagan ritual, you could get success and whatever you wanted.
How much did you research the myth of Faust when developing the script?
The myth of faust was in my head the whole time. Already from the conception of the original idea I had it in mind, since I wanted the story of EL CERRO DE LOS DIOSES to have something of the mystique, narrative and great characters of classical literature.
What was the writing process like with Borja Figuerola?
Borja Figuerola entered the project at a time when I had already written a first draft of the entire story and since I had to start focusing on the production and direction of the film, I needed someone to help me finish polishing the script and at the same time provide a fresh point of view. Although it has been the first time that we have collaborated together, working with Borja was very easy because we both coincide with the type of stories that we like to watch and write.
This your first directed feature (I believe), tell us the difference between this and working on short films?
EL CERRO DE LOS DIOSES is my first film as a director, but before, as you say, I have directed several short films and also second units for feature films such as ONY KINGS OF THE GRAIL.
For me, the difference between shooting a feature film and a short film I think is basically time and responsibility. A short film can be shot in one to four days depending on its complexity and allows you a lot of freedom when experimenting with narrative and audiovisual language. On the contrary, EL CERRO DE LOS DIOSES was shot in 15 days, which implies that you have to know how to manage your energy and motivation well, otherwise you may end up mentally and physically exhausted on the fifth day, and not being able to continue with the filming.
Shooting a feature is an exercise in patience and commitment for which you must be 150% prepared.
What would be your one-sentence summary for El Cerro De Los Dioses?
What are you willing to do to be famous?
What do you hope viewers of the Soho Horror Fest take from the screening this weekend?
Mainly I hope that the festival viewers have a good time with the film and then that they think for a while about what is and what is not true of it. Since there are several people and stories that are told in the film that are totally true, mixed with part of the fiction of the story.
How stressful was it assembling the cast?
One of the things we gave the most importance to, was having the best possible casting for the movie. And at our level, I think we got it! Having people like Itziar Castro, Alex de la Iglesia, Rossy de Palma, Alain Hernandez, Pepón Nieto and many more was a dream come true.
I can’t say that it was the most stressful thing about making the movie, since we managed to put together all the casting thanks to the collaboration of many people like Itziar Castro, Marta Lacima, Christian Caner and many more. It was a team effort that I am very proud of.
What are your hopes for a wider release in the future?
Well, the most important thing for me is that the film has the maximum exposure and can be enjoyed by the greatest number of people. So I hope that in the future the film will be seen in more and more countries and audience can enjoy it. I think that the story has great potential to be adapted in other countries, with celebrities from each locality, in the form of a remake.
I would also love for the film to fall into the hands of Nicolas Cage, Sam Raimi or Guillermo del Toro, some of those blessed in La Siega. I would do anything to collaborate with any of them! anything like a dark ritual in Fuentelsaz del Campo, you know 😉
How difficult is it for independent filmmakers to get wider distribution post-festival screenings?
This is a great question that I hope to be able to answer shortly, since right now we hope to be able to sell the film internationally and thus have a wider distribution for it.