New Talent: Pedro Díaz
Growing up in a small village near Santiago de Compostela, director Pedro Díaz has come a long way from his childhood, when he spent his days chasing footballs in the Galician countryside and avidly watching Dragon Ball Z. While studying under the tutelage of Spanish film director Enrique Urbizu, Pedro discovered his love for film and cinematography, and decided that it was his destiny to direct.
Now signed to LaCosa, LBB’s Liam Smith caught up with the rising director to find out how he honed his craft and what the future holds for him in 2018.
LBB> Tell us a bit about yourself. Where did you grow up, and what kind of kid were you?
Pedro Díaz> I was born in a village close to Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. The place is called Proupin and it’s in a beautiful valley with a population of approximately 60 people. I lived there until the age of 18. We were a group of children, similar in age, that spent most of our time with the older generations and sadly, most of those people are no longer with us.
It was amazing. I grew up attached to a football, a bicycle and when the rain came - not unusual in Galicia - I'd spend the afternoons watching shows like Dragon Ball Z, Oliver and Benji and Doraemon.
LBB> Where did you learn your craft?
PD> I decided I wanted to direct when I took my first lecture in cinematography and storytelling with Spanish film director Enrique Urbizu during the last year of my degree in Madrid. We began with Broken Blossoms and we ended with Full Metal Jacket and Carrie. We'd spend a whole week analysing the composition, the light, the editing... people were even standing up during the lessons!
This then took me on the path to study at Luis Aller's film school in Barcelona two years later. The lectures really ignited my curiosity but I later found out that the cliché of 'learning as you shoot' is completely true. You need to make mistakes, learn from them and know how to take on the pressure of being responsible for a crew who are awaiting your guidance and direction before you really feel that you're beginning to learn.
LBB> Your recent spot for Movistar is really stunning. Can you tell us a little bit about that project?
PD> Thank you! The truth is, that was a beautiful project. One of the advertising projects I've enjoyed the most. We aimed to create a tone and an atmosphere rather than focusing on any specific content. The concept revolved around the mystery hidden behind every single one of us, and that was portrayed through the character of Javier Sierra. Javier grew up in the ‘80s and this allowed me to experiment with a certain look and references that I feel really comfortable with - at the same time, I was given so much support and flexibility from the Movistar+ creative team.
Despite this, the shoot was a tricky one. But I was able to bring together some of my most trusted crew members, which is so important to me. We recreated a forest on set, used flaming torches, a boy, green screen, fog and seven scenes with different set changes - it was madness!
LBB> What's your opinion on the Spanish advertising landscape at the moment?
PD> I really like the opportunities that the internet has created as this is allowing a lot of younger creatives to thrive. I really hope that we slowly continue to see more people innovating and breaking the rules that sometimes limit new talent.
LBB> Who are your creative heroes and inspirations?
PD> In advertising I really enjoy the aesthetic aspect combined with scene setting and the cinematography. Some of my inspiration and film references come from Xavier Dolan, David Lynch, Damien Chazelle, Leos Carax. Any input can be a source of inspiration in any particular moment. A comic book, a photograph... I will always remember my first ever visit to the Reina Sofia museum when I was nine years old. I went with my auntie and it was my first time in Madrid. I remember being engulfed by Dalí's surrealism. I couldn't understand any of the things I was looking at, but I couldn't help but stare at them. When we left the museum my auntie Chus bought me a print of ‘Uranium and Atomica Melancholica Idyll’ that has been hanging on my bedroom wall ever since.
LBB> Which projects are you most proud of and why?
PD> Aside from my last one which we just discussed, I had a blast filming the 2015 EuroLeague campaign. It was a project that landed on my desk on a Wednesday and by the following Monday we had a Barcelona football player travelling to Madrid. It was a mad shoot fuelled by adrenaline.
However, my favourite projects are still the ones for the #0 campaign. They're probably the ones that truly reflect my work. They were two projects with high creativity thanks to [Creative Director at Movistar+] Iñaki Martikorena's team and were very rewarding. We experimented with lighting, colours, angles and used very bizarre characters - what a treat that was.
LBB> Outside of work, what do you like to get up to?
PD> I'm a big football fan. I tend to watch fewer of the matches where the team I support isn't playing and I'm not that interested in the stuff that relates to football. However, football has that emotional and slightly irrational side to it that makes it beautiful and easy to get attached to. Hugging a friend or your dad when your team has scored a goal is an amazing feeling. I also try to go to the cinema once a week and do as much travelling as possible.
LBB> What are your aims for next year?
PD> The same resolution I had set myself for 2017: finishing a feature film that I'm co-directing and that we've been working on since 2015. Projects like these are long and hard but also beautiful and stimulating at the same time.
LBB> And what are your top five tips for budding filmmakers?
PD> Surround yourself with the best and make sure you're always learning from them. Never stop believing in yourself and your skills - don't try to be the best but be who you want to be and how you want to be. Since working in advertising I've also realised that our work is simpler than what people make us believe. My grandmother used to say to me that I ‘made films’ and it's true. Stay humble.