‘ Red in the Water’ – director Mikel Gurrea
“The legend tells the hero cut off the head of Medusa and threw it to the water. However, the blood of that head became a red stone under the sea. That is the origin of coral. In the early 20th century, a deaf fisherman will bring the myth to life.”
Mikel Gurrea was born in Donostia-San Sebastian, in the Basque country. When he was 18, he moved to Barcelona to study Audiovisual Communications at the Pompeu Fabra University. While finishing his degree, he worked as an Assistant Director and Post Production Coordinator Jr at the production company “Agosto 2006”. After years of experimentation with no-budget microfilms and documentaries Mikel wrote and directed his first short film “Primo” in 2007, screened at Girona and Figueres International Film Festivals. One year later, he directed “The cats on the roof,” screened at Mecal Barcelona International Film Festival. “Red in the water” is his latest short film, written and directed by him.
I had the opportunity to talk to Mikel briefly about his short, film and the future.
My short film Red in the Water (www.redinthewater.com) is freely inspired by the legend of Perseus & Medusa, but it was an image described in that legend that got me obsessed: the blood of the woman becoming stone under the water. This idea, this relationship between essential elements (blood, water, stone) was the source to generate the story of my film. I often get my ideas from visual impulses: an image that I see, I read about or just pops into my mind, even while I am sleeping. There is something special about that image, something that makes it remain in my mind for weeks and makes it stand above any other. That something special is the story, yet unwritten. I take the image and I question myself what is behind: that is how I get the storyline, the screenplay and also the starting point for the visual approach of my film. If I think about it, it makes perfect sense to me, because it is like unraveling a riddle, discovering something that is hidden, which is essentially what interests me both as a filmmaker and as an audience.
2. For you, what makes a film successful or a total failure? Pick your point of view.
In my opinion, a film is nothing without an audience. A great film without screenings or viewers is dead, so the ultimate success for a film is to get screenings as long as it can. It is not a matter of number of viewers, I really think each film has its own audience and, sometimes, they can be a few, but the more it is seen, the more it is discussed, the longest the film lives. That is the main stage of success for a film in my opinion. Obviously, there is also the fulfilling your own goals as a filmmaker. When you manage to tell the story you want to tell, using the elements and the narrative you wanted to use, you know you have succeeded. As a director, I am always trying to learn and therefore, facing new techniques, experimenting is very important to me, especially making short films. I would hate it if I got to the point where I know perfectly how to work one genre or one type of film and had to repeat it the rest of my life. The idea of challenge is very important to me so that I can stay creative. That challenge, that story, is what I want to offer to the audience and I know I have succeeded when they watch it. That is one of the greatest things about film festivals to me: you get to watch your film with an audience in a movie theater. You can feel their reactions, whether they are involved in the story or not. That is when I get the final answer to your question: did I succeed?
3 Future projects after ECU? What’s next?
I have received a scholarship to study a Master course in Filmmaking at the London Film School for two years. I will create my films there and I will collaborate with fellow filmmakers. I never went to film school, so that is going to be a great environment for me. Mike Leigh is curator there and the school has got a long tradition of supporting independent filmmaking. Besides that, I have two short film projects, one of them pretty advanced and the other one in early stages. I was very close to shoot one of them in July, but in the end the location requirements changed and I had to postpone it. I am very patient in this sense and if I have to wait for the film’s benefit I will always do it. In the meantime, I am writing the screenplay of my first feature film and I will start looking for production companies to back me up as soon as I have a definitive draft. It is a huge challenge to write a long length film, the structure and the rhythm are very different from short films, but again, there is the challenge and I have got a story that my whole generation can feel very related to.
Red in the water was recently nominated for best International short film at In The Palace International Short Film Festival and received a special mention for Cinematography and Production Design. Currently Mikel lives in London and he is writing his first script for a feature film.