I found my love with a search engine, I kissed her on the mouse
In all the possible permutations of ones and zeroes, of DNA and molecular structures, of chance and fate, you might also someday find yourself sitting on the patio of a lovely home in Los Feliz with rising star Carlos Marques-Marcet. In that moment you will be glad that you have your two favorite elixirs to lubricate the conversation: coffee and cigarettes, and your other favorite elixir—your recording device—to catch the waves made by the air expelled from his lungs, formed into vibrations by his vocal cords, and converted to ones and zeroes by your device so you can, in turn, transform your lovely afternoon, via the most potent elixir mankind has created—language—into ink patterns on paper.
Marques-Marcet is the Spanish director who spent the last year cleaning up at the European and American film festivals (Best Acting Duo, SXSW 2014; Best Film, Málaga Spanish Film Festival 2014; Best First Work, Sant Jordi Awards 2015—to name a few) and is now sitting pretty before the wide release of his first feature film 10.000 Km in June. Originally from Barcelona, he has made Los Angeles his home for the last seven years, and, like most transplants, is madly in love with the city, “I try to find the other Los Angeles. We forget a lot, we think Los Angeles is the entertainment industry, but not even 5% of the population works in the entertainment industry. You have 50% of the population of the city that speaks Spanish, and it’s a completely different Los Angeles.”
The ascendant director was kind enough to answer a few burning questions:
What comes first for you, the characters, or the story?
That’s a good question. I think there are two sides; it comes normally from a conflict. The conflict is embodied both within the characters and the story. You know, because it’s like a balance. I don’t like plots, and structure, because plots are a structure when it comes from a pre-establishment of emotions we have already and we fall into this structure because that’s how we are used to telling the stories. But I don’t like to think “I’m going to fit these characters into this plot,” for me plot is conflict, so it’s hard to say what comes first.
The relationship in 10.000 Km felt very real to me. Is that something you were consciously setting out to portray?
Yeah, the long distance relationship is a story that’s been told many times, I feel like it was a story that needed to be told again. So it’s always a balance when you do a movie that you want people to identify with, you have to put these magical moments that you know that people can recognize from anywhere around the world.
How important is the chemistry between the actors to you?
For me it’s basic, who wants to see a 90-minute movie with two actors who don’t have chemistry? You know we’re not going to do the film if we don’t have it. And that’s basically what we work with most in rehearsals and the script is just trying to build this relationship and trying to make it believable that they’ve been together for seven years. I think it’s the basics for everything, like how can you imagine Casablanca without chemistry? How is Casablanca so good? It’s because of the chemistry. And that’s the beauty of movies; some can be really good just because of the chemistry of two actors.
In the end, the characters get what they’ve been wanting and they don’t really know what to do with it. What do you think that says about people in general? Or about how we live in the digital age?
There’s nothing that can substitute the physical distance. There was a psychology test with kids, they set up a bunch of toddlers who were playing in a room, and they set up a bunch of screens around them with people talking around them in Chinese, and they did the same with real people around them talking in Chinese. It’s funny because the kids with the screens, they didn’t pick up any of the Chinese, but the kids with the real presence, they would catch up some of the language, they would understand the sounds, they would understand words, of just having this real physical presence in there, you know, it’s something that, even if you can reproduce 3-D holograms, smell, even touch, there’s something about having the real presence that’s beyond our senses. And it comes back to our animal parts of us that we can’t totally dissociate.