SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - What is an international film festival without its foreign films? Violet comes to us from Spanish filmmaker Luiso Berdejo. Interestingly enough, the film takes part in Santa Monica, CA, and some parts were shot right in our own backyard...Los Olivos, CA.
Violet is a story about a young Spanish man, Alex, who lives in Santa Monica, and along with his best friend "5", share a curious taste for old Polaroid photographs. But when an old Polaroid picture of a young, beautiful woman surfaces, she soon captures Alex's heart. An obsession and determination to find the woman in the picture ensues. Against all odds, Alex embarks on a spiritual journey that may very well change his life forever.
The film grips the viewer from beginning to end. The lead character will surely have a cheer section in his corner with audiences wanting him to succeed in his search, even if it defies all common logic. But maybe, just maybe, the tenacity and courage that Alex displays is enough to give him a renewed sense of life that will lead him straight to the girl in that old Polaroid picture.
Violet contains such a refreshing plot and it is an exceptional film. Berdejo took some time to shed a bit more light and depth into this great film.
Where did you get the idea, your inspiration and motivation, to make such a film?
I learned from Dr. Vicario, founder of the Medicine of The Soul Foundation, about the power of our inner strength, will and intentions. That inspired me to write a story about a guy who chases a dream believing in his chances to make it a reality despite all reasoning and common sense.
How much of the film was inspired by your own personal experiences?
Everything that a writer delivers is based on personal experiences or knowledge. ‘Violet' maybe looks more personal than a zombie movie that I could have written in the past, but I always find everything that I do to be personal and somehow, even too intimate.
In a digital age, the use of Polaroid was prominent in Violet. What was the reasoning behind using this form of technology as the lead character's tool for photography art?
Violet is a love statement to the photochemical process of shooting a movie. The movie has been entirely shot on film: 35mm, Super 16mm and Super 8mm, and this love and admiration for the celluloid is somehow a metaphor of the celebration of palpable life, the permanence in time and the reminiscence of the people who left.
Out of all colors or names that could have been chosen, why did you choose violet?
Because violet are the sunsets in my beloved Santa Monica, and because I believe that violet is the most spiritual color out there.
Without giving away too much, Why did you decide to go with the ending you did? And start the film the way you did?
The fact that the main character in the film, Alex, learns how to shape his journey as he pleases, gave me the idea of building the film as if it were one of those inspiring ‘Choose Your Own Adventure' books we all read when we were kids.
I understand some of the film was shot in Los Olivos, CA, a well-known location to everyone that lives in this region. What attracted you to this location?
We needed a magical lake to finish our film. We searched for the right one all over the State of California until finally the producer Dario Troiani found Zaca Lake. We saw some photos, we read about its history and we loved it. We drove to the lake; we kayaked to the platform, and when we experienced the incredible energy that comes from its bottom we knew that we had to finish our film there.
What were the challenges of making the film? Do you have a story or two you can share with our readers?
Believe it or not we did all the pre-production in 6 weeks, including everything you can imagine: casting, locations, hiring the crew, flying some of them from Europe, renting, buying, working, drawing, painting, rehearsing... I still cannot believe it when I look back to those days.
Later on, since we were three small-scale producers, we worked on the film as funds became available, so it took us quite a long time to move forward with some of the processes. For instance, it took us four months since we shot the film until we were able to scan the negative and watch the footage. Can you imagine that... for a filmmaker!? I am not complaining at all though, I love the movie and I'm grateful for the experience of making it just the way it happened; but it's undeniable that money issues turned the trek into a challenging one.
What were some of the most enjoyable moments of shooting Violet?
I love my actors and I truly enjoyed working and playing with them. Starting the editing was another huge highlight. Seeing that everything starts to look like a film and that your story is being told on screen is a great moment of happiness.
If there is one message you want audiences to leave with after watching this film what would that be?
I respect the audience too much to even pretend to give them a message. I just hope they will feel they have invested 90 minutes of their lives properly. That's a huge responsibility for a filmmaker!
How does it feel to have your film screen at the acclaimed Santa Barbara International Film Festival?
It is honestly an honor and personally, a dream come true. Making a film as personal as ‘Violet' and later on having the respectable audience of the SBIFF watching it is a beautiful challenge.
Is there anything else you would like to discuss about your film that I haven't asked?
I would love to recognize the work of my producers Dario Troiani and Daniel Vicario. They both took care of me and of ‘Violet' respecting the creative process from the first to the last day, and for that and for their immense love towards us I will be always thankful to them.
Violet makes its Santa Barbara International Film Festival debut on Friday, February 7 at 10:30 p.m. and will subsequently screen on Saturday, February 8 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, February 9 at 4:00 p.m. All screenings will be at the Metro 4 Theater.
For movie schedules and other film festival information, visit www.sbiff.org