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TORONTO ’06 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW: Daniel Sanchez Arevalo: “I became a filmmaker out of boredom.”

TORONTO '06 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW: Daniel Sanchez Arevalo: "I became a filmmaker out of boredom."

Every day through the end of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as “provocative feature films by new and emerging directors.”

Nineteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions. Director Daniel Sanchez Arevalo is at Toronto with his feature film, “DarkBlue-AlmostBlack,” a film that explores generational politics in Spain through the story of Jorge, who is forced to put his career on hold when his father suffers a stroke.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Madrid on June 24th, 1970.

What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?

Well, I am not one of those that shot films with a Super 8 Camera at a tender age – no, nothing like that. I wish. I became a filmmaker out of boredom. I had just obtained a degree in Business Administration, and in the summer of 1993, while I was looking for a job, going from interview to interview, from insurance company to insurance company, I started writing short stories and short films just to kill time. I ended up finding a job as a screenwriter before I was hired as a sales manager. Lucky me, I guess. I never had any artistic interests before the age of 23. Although I must admit that my whole family is closely related to art. My father is a painter, my mother an actress, my brother works for television and my sister is a ballet dancer. So I guess it ran in my veins, and sooner or later it had to sprout.

Did you go to film school? Or how did you learn about filmmaking?

I consider myself a screenwriter above all. All my background on film is a consequence of my writing of television. After 7 years of writing tv, I had an urge to explore my own stories and to get a formal film education, since I was writing out of intuition. So I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship, got it (on the second try) and went to Columbia Film School. There, I became a director as a natural process following screenwriting – I felt as if I needed to be in full control of the whole process.

What are your goals for the Toronto International Film Festival?

The same as in any other place on this planet: get people to watch my film. Share all these years of hard work with as many people as possible. Get feedback and learn from people’s opinion. See the different reactions in different cultures. And of course, have fun.

How or where did the initial idea for your film come from?

The central image that inspired the film was a guy, standing in front of a store, watching something he longs for – separated by a thick glass, an invisible barrier that keeps what he desires so close and yet so far at the same time.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making and securing distribution for the movie?

As a spectator, what I admire the most when watching a film is the mix of drama and comedy. So as a filmmaker facing my first film, one of my most ambitious goals was to try to write and direct a film that shifted smoothly and in a natural way from drama to comedy. Get the audience into a rollercoaster of different emotions. I hope I accomplished my goal.

What are your biggest creative influences?

I was raised watching and admiring the classics. Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, The Marx Brothers, John Ford, Billy Wilder, Preston Sturges, Ernst Lubitsch. And then, as I grew up: Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Hal Hartley, Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, PT Anderson… And of course the Spanish filmmakers: Jose Luis Berlanga, Pedro Almodovar, Alejandro Amenabar, Julio Medem, Fernando Leon.

What is your definition of “independent film”?

Well, in Spain every film is an independent one.

What are some of your all-time favorite films, and why?

The Gold Rush, The Great Escape, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Apartment, Some Like it Hot, A Night at the Opera, The Bicycle Thief, Jaws, Star Wars, Manhattan, The Graduate, Stand by Me, Annie Hall, Groundhog Day, Do The Right Thing

The reason is always a sentimental one – films that I grew up with.

What are some of your recent favorite films?

Best in Show, Election, American Beauty, Magnolia, Mystic River, 21 Grams, Central do Brazil, Talk To Her, The Sea Inside, Oldboy, Crash.

What are your interests outside of film?

Outside of film? Is there anything outside of film?

How do you define success as a filmmaker?

If after all the things that you’ve had to give up during the process of making a movie the spirit of your story stays intact, that’s success.

Can you tell us a bit about your next projects?

I just wrote a screenplay for another director, Oskar Santos. Also I’m in preproduction of another shortfilm that I’ve written and will be directing, “Traumalogy.” In October-November I’ll start writing what will be my second feature film as director.

[Get the latest from the Toronto International Film Festival throughout the day in indieWIRE’s special Toronto ’06 section.]

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