This Friday, May 20th, sees the release of Guillem Morales’ excitingly cinematic thriller, Julia’s Eyes. I got to speak with Morales about the film last week, and our conversation was both wide ranging and occasionally rather probing. I’ve sorted out some of what we spoke about into Five Things.
1 – On Storyboarding
I used to be an artist. I will work hard on storyboards, get them very precise. My storyboards are a result of studying the location and the set. I need to know all of that, and then I study the movements of the actors in that space, their organic movements. And as a result, there’s my storyboard. I don’t get too attached to the storyboard, though. It has to be flexible.
Building a storyboard is just building a main road, a motorway. But when you have that main road, you’re safe, but you can then take detours and come back to that motorway if you need to.
I have meetings with the crew, studying the storyboard, and then we talk it over again on the set and locations, specifying “This would need this lens, and this would need the camera to do this…”
2 – On Working With Actors
We did rehearsals for three weeks, and individual discussions of the script with the actors. With Belen I spent three days breaking down the script, line by line. I did that with the main actors. And then, when we got that, we had three weeks doing some kind of rehearsal, looking for the truth. The rehearsals were not the time for doing the best performance, but for coming to understand the characters.
The average amount of takes per shot was about six. If you’ve talked a lot about the characters and the scene, then you know everything, so between takes it’s just very precise instructions. If you don’t get it so you can work with just precise instructions on the set, it ends up just a mess.
3 – On Horror And Giallo
I’m not conscious of having an obsession. I do love certain kind of films. Horror films, monster films, films like Don’t Look Now and Rosemarys Baby. I love those kinds of films, ones that are more concerned with creating atmospheres than showing everything to you.
Julia’s Eyes shares some fetishes with Giallo. The gloves! Always the gloves, and a woman in danger. If it happens to be a Giallo, it might be the first feminist one. I remember Giallo as being very chauvinist. It was not my intention to make a Giallo, but as a result, I don’t know. I’m feminist so I know the film is feminist too.
4 – On The Cinematography and Post Production Colour Grading
The 32 is my average lens. The human lens is like a 50, but for me, I prefer the 32. This means that the focus is very narrow. If you out the camera near the actors, the focus is critical. The focus puller did a great job. We need to appreciate the focus puller, but nobody ever notices their work unless they get it wrong. When they get it right, it’s like they’re not there.
The cinematographer’s job is in interpreting the script in light, and then meeting the challenge of how to do the shots on time. We made an agreement to not use digital FX in the light, so everything was created in the set – even the flashes. It was very complicated, but everything is problem solving. But every scene had a new lighting scheme, a new lighting effect. We used a lot of light on the set, overlighting just to reach the density we needed and the graduation between the light and darkness.
We desaturated the colours a little in post production, just a little bit, but not very much. Not as much as we had thought we should do. And we turned the contrast up, and it’s finally very high.
5 – On Working With Universal
When we went to Universal Pictures to pitch Julia’s Eyes we told them “It’s a blind woman vs. the Invisible man” and they were saying “But how? How? She can’t see!”
I went to Universal with Guillermo about making an actual Invisible Man movie but they weren’t interested.