SineScreen speaks to Ana Murugarren, director of Three Lies
What made you decide to pursue filmmaking as a career?
Telling stories has always been my passion. I started writing, and when I arrived at Bilbao from Navarra, at 18 years old, I met a young bunch of creators with the same concerns including Joaquin Trincado, Enrique Urbizu, Alex de la Iglesia, and Luis Marias. We jumped at the chance to make feature films. In 1986 we shot “Your girlfriend is crazy” (Tu novia esta loca)… We were kind of crazy, ‘cause we got really very little money. Then came “All for the money” (Todo por la pasta). The film became a classic of modern Spanish cinema and after some feature films I started directing. I felt absolutely comfortable. I guess it was a logical evolution from editing. This job is like tightrope walking, always on the wire and financial risks breathing down your neck – but I wouldn’t like to do anything else.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I guess inspiration is a mix of thinking and intuition, and of course, observing reality. Many times I change the shooting planning on the way, because new aspects always develop during rehearsals before shooting. I let my instinct carry me on.
My main cinematography influences are American comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s; Hawks, Lubitch, Capra…Films I never get tired of. I also like Rob Reiner, Woody Allen… British films, contemporary and of Ealing’s time. It seems that I’m a little classic, but [I feel that] the script and the performances are above the technical questions. I want to believe that my movies are full of sensibility, and also, as a good editor, full of rhythm. [Laughs]
The scene where Sister Inés forces Inma to whip Lucia is very dark, and very harrowing. How did you build up the intensity of the scene before filming?
As mentioned, I rehearse a lot with actors and actresses before shooting. The way I resolved this scene was shooting it completely in a general shot without cutting, letting the actresses find their own intensity and climax. For the crew it was tough to stand the action of the lashes. Sor Ines took out her whole nasty side and Inmaculada her innocent anguish, while the suffering Lucia was lying down on the table, screaming in pain. Once I had the climax build up, I did shot all the short shots.
The chemistry between the lead characters is fantastic. Was the dialogue between Angel and Violeta, Inma and Lucia, etc. entirely scripted, or did they occasionally improvise?
They all are great actresses and actors. I’d be stupid not to take advantage of their talent. I let them insert their own lines without getting away from their character. I´m very tough with that, or at least that’s what they say. I think the script of a film is something alive and transformational. We have to kill the script to see it reborn, like the phoenix.
What was it in particular about Luis Marias’ script that made you want to take on Three Lies? Was the project easy for you to visualize before filming?
I wanted to direct this film and Joaquin wanted to produce it from the very beginning. The drawing of the film was done before Luis started writing the script, so I feel it’s mine too. Visualization-wise, I had clear that the tone, the kind of shots, the light, would be different in each epoch. The gloomy flat where the young pregnant girls live with that nun had to be darker than Violet’s universe, which has more movement, hand cameras, and light. In this film, I rehearsed a lot at the same sets, especially at the girl’s flat set, and that was a luxury.
SineScreen speaks to Joaquin Trincado, producer Three Lies
How did you first get into film production?
When you want to be a moviemaker, what you really want is to create movies that you feel should be done for one reason or another; to be made and screened for the biggest audience possible, to entertain them and thrill them. Although I’m also a film director, as producer I can imagine a film from the tagline to the final copy. Production is an absolutely creative work. You make screenplay decisions and assess the look of the film, the casting, etc, always in total collaboration with the director, who takes all pre-film work in her hands and shapes the film with her talent, her sensibility and her know-how. Then they give the movie back to you for final edits, before you place it and defend it in the market.
What was it about Three Lies that made you want to produce the film?
To find out that those young pregnant girls in Spain during the ‘70s and ‘80s were obliged to give their desired children away for adoption, happening in the downtown of a modern city like Bilbao, was shocking. I thought there was potential to make a tender and courageous movie that reminds us how awfully women have had to suffer, even up today.
What do you find is the trickiest part about producing a film?
The shooting time. Three main ingredients to surf with guarantee: you need to get into it in total complicity with the director, the possible financial gap has to be under your complete control, and the artistic and technical crew must understand the kind of production they’re in. Treat them right and learn to say no!