1 de agosto de 2011

Interview: Gustav Hernandez On The Silent House And The Funeral Of Elbert Kurman

Interview: Gustav Hernandez On The Silent House And The Funeral Of Elbert Kurman: "
Gustav Hernandez is the writer-director of The Silent House, a single-take scare film that has a very interesting last minute twist. An English language remake has already been completed and premiered, so you might want to leap right onto DVD and Blu-ray release of the original – out in the UK today.

I was not able to speak to Hernandez in person as, frankly, my Spanish is even worse than his English. Thank heavens, then, for e-mail interviews and translators. Indeed, thanks to the translator for their good work.

1. What came first – the idea to film in one take? Or the plotline?

First of all I imagined the atmosphere of the film and then I visualised the moments. I realized they were long moments, which seemed more real to me. Then I thought of the single take and since then it was impossible to think of another approach. I didn’t want to manipulate time or space. I just wanted things to happen naturally and to be familiar for the viewers.

2. On the film’s visual rules.

A lot of rules.

1) The film should not become a never ending subjective take from the main character’s point of view (and easy temptation to give in to). The camera had to narrate the situations, trigger certain emotions and capture certain moments in a filmic manner.

2) Diversity of camera positions and rhythm. This is very difficult because in order to get a close up you need to justify the movement of the characters or the camera. We realized that the mirrors could help with variety and composition in this regard.

3) The technique should not take precedence over the narration. It should be the vehicle to tell the story, rather than a technical show-off. I did not want complex movements, or a steadycam. I wanted the film to have a human pulse throughout.

3. On the audience’s involvement with the single-take style.

I think they look for that until the first 15 minutes. Then they get involved in the story and no longer care about the single take. They forget about this, as they are dragged by the characters into the story. In my view, the benefits of working without time or space ellipses is that the fear and emotions of the characters become more real and the viewers turn them into a personal event. The main problem is that it’s very difficult to keep the rhythm, although it’ not impossible.

4. Why are haunted house stories so popular?

I think it comes from our childhood, from those stories about haunted houses we were told once and our desire to explore them in order to verify their existence. I don’t know whether The Silent House has contributed to the genre. It’s just a fresh and innovative film that tries to create suspense in a different but simple way.

5. Are the situations and characters specific in anyway to Uruguay?

They are universal. We never wanted to show national or local characters. They are very open.

6. On the audience’s reaction to the final twist.

Some people have criticized the final twist, but as a matter of fact there are already some indications from the beginning, and only very sharp eyes (and ears) can notice actions, phrases, musical choices and uses of light that clearly reveal the ending. Needless to say, these clues are not highlighted. A second look at The Silent House reveals many of these signs, which are there from the very beginning.

7. On the more “traditionally” staged and edited epilogue.

That sequence was filmed after the Cannes Festival. I first watched The Silent House completely finished (with music and sound) at Cannes and when the screening was over I suggested that new scene to the producer. I love it. I think it manages to add information about the characters and to wrap up the film. That scene has a dream-like nature and a quiet look which is very suitable to end the viewers’ experience when watching the film.

8. Will your next film The Funeral of Elbert Kurman be as experimental as The Silent House?

Absolutely! Considerably more experimental. It’s a challenging project that I can’t reveal for the time being. I can only say that both the narrative language and the technique are very contemporary. Not very sophisticated, but natural, exciting and very real. It’s another experiment we’re very excited about, a tribute to horror films from our point of view. I’m dying to tell you more about it, but I can’t.

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