Pain and Glory with Pedro Almdovar and Kenneth Lonergan (Ep. 247)
Hello and thanks for tuning in to another episode. The director's cut a podcast by the directors guild of America featuring today's top directors sharing behind find the scene stories that the latest films and insights into the craft of directing. Please take a second to subscribe to our show. Wherever you get your podcasts in this episode Director Pedro Almodovar takes us behind the scenes of his film? Pain and glory. This deeply personal film from Spain tells the story of Salvador Mayo. A depressed director. who is thinking of leaving filmmaking? Because chronic health problems a a series of encounters both real and remembered leads mile to reflect on the choices. He's made an ruminate about creation and the difficulty of separating it from one's own life pain and glory was screened as part of the DJ's Global Cinema series which aims to spotlight landmark foreign films for DJ members and guests are presenting screenings of contemporary temporary classic and independent films as well as conversations with their directors. Heynen glory earned Mr Almodovar's upon door nomination at the two thousand Nineteen Nineteen Cannes Film Festival. And Spain's official Academy Awards entry for best international feature his other credits include the feature films. Hulu Aetna the skin I live in women on the verge of nervous breakdown and Mata door. He received an Academy Award Nomination for best director in two thousand and two for his feature talk Dr Her had won the Best Director Prize at the Nineteen Ninety Nine Cannes Film Festival for all about my mother which also took home the best foreign language film Oscar in two thousand following the global cinema series screening of the film at the theater in New York. Mister Almodovar's spoke director Kenneth Lonergan about filming pain and glory. Listen for their spoiler Phil Conversation. Thank you thank you. Thank you so much thank you okay got him that we need to trust. Nate me indicates that I that I don't know how how to say something in English which is very often. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for asking me to do this so I did right down some questions in case I didn't think what to say. Okay you can ask me anything you want. Thank you about about every movie. I'll also allowed my bribery live. I want you these women of my life. I don't hide anything. Okay well the film is just. It's just beautiful the second time I saw it and I just love it. I think we were talking backstage about the construction of the film. I wonder maybe you can. I was GONNA ask ask you even before we were discussing it. The different memories the character revisits the different characters from his life. Is that something that you can. You just talk about how that came to be. Structurally when you were writing the film a little bit did you start with the idea. For what did it start out as such a personal Nov film that they did it start out as separate pieces of the narrative that went together. Can you just discussed that a little bit. Um I think I think it's impossible to it. You write are kind. These kind of creeped right away. One I mean show ah I I used to write. They often without upper pufus guest because sometimes these into they knew for me. But I'm not taking diary because I don't but I have quite a little small pieces. Set Pieces Dot dot when I ride in that is I don't have any intention for them. Yes myself The in these he's a creep that they appear three pieces that it was written before on when they found the right place for this for this character because untargeted cities have few Baker on a writer. So Oh the three of them feed them very well that this is it was one thousand pages that I wrote about the Ave. You funny and Witty on meeting. We want an old artur that I work with but I'm not I made that I like I like short team also. It was already done it. The I wrote for for one actress in light changed the gender but a that was like memories from the eighties from Lommel Vida. You know the movement very important in Spain they were painful memories that I that I win. Perhaps fifteen or twenty years ago it I wrote that on the third one it was the first desire the orders. You know the Saria on in these in that case I I I wrote a thing because they asked me to make consort a movie to put a in the last unease movie that it was may laugh. The Three Musketeers from you. Go through sketches underneath made one a won't cut away the other one. That's the one they asked me to the third one and I thought that the the the I desire I don't know I don't remember why the last minute or hours not completely sure about teal and I kept it in my desk on the shooting star writing in I mean I wrote specific moment of my life. I after being a they're making us Sergey of my book. A Anita was a a moment that I had a lot of pain my back so it was a somber moment anyway. Well I. I stopped writing about an image that I used to that. I used to to have very often often that summer that it was when I when I saw the swimming pool under the water the dust the saints of no gravity. It was the only moment or the life when I have a muscle muscular tension on the because I I'm I'm almost always not all not every day in every moment movie theater on after doing these union civil days and then I thought I ask someone to make up a queue of me under the water yes to see that could be the start breath of something then. I saw that the image was. Interestingly Enough Shaw stopped writing that Eh immediately immediately after that in the same water get me to another two award of their river. Titled You'd have not runway like water soap him mm-hmm and then appear a real memory. which is I mean? Because he's not precise memory of my childhood that he was one of the more of the happiest moment of my childhood on and it was just go with women into the river on to see the none too listening to then. Ah the gossip about the place that we were leaving or show song fifty for me on. That was a wonderful memory. Only that I came to my mind moment and then you know that was the key of them of the of the script. I didn't want to write something about myself on on about my own pains. That was the last thing that I wanted to buy. When I discovered that I could combine with memories of my childhood it then I thought that these other nuncia alternating back and forth between them? That was the key for the inauguration. and Ed I'm then I kept on writing about about myself. On my memories from my childhood combining with three different defriend set pieces on shoulders descript McCain quite fast after after to after missing. Mississippi's when you saw the whole thing together to the content of the material surprise you after you saw how they fit together in some way Did did they change in your mind or your in your in your your perception of them. Because you've written the three pieces separately when you saw how they fit together with the with what you just describe describe was I have to change my nephew's three feeding three pieces. I mean I couldn't would then I wrote. I'm usually the internal internal See what what the inside of them the because when I watched the film It seems like the each each story is A. It's something that he lost and that he feels he has regrets about but he's also sentimental in any way he's I try not to. Oh you're never sentimental but he's he loves everyone in whether the whether the relationship ended badly or well he's he's someone who love very much and they all they're all different in that way but he's there's all in each one of them there's something he feels he he feels bad about that. He's revisiting and I just wondered if that was something that something that I noticed. I don't know if it strikes do that way but it is. I mean the identity of the pieces. Did they reveal themselves to you in a surprising way when you put them all together. It's always a surprise in a mystery that they mix well with a material that is an conceived many years later it bid oak you we left so but those three set pieces were about my life and general larger pieces also about my life so there's a way in which they just fit together naturally do you. Can you describe a little bit. How the how you just as a writer and as a director I guess how you make the structural connection between one piece and the the next? Because it's it's for instance. He's the man sits down in the in the restaurant to play the piano. And then we're back with a with a children's choir and and the The story without Berto more or less end Senate leads next into the story. With Frederick grow it so elegant and and natural the way they combined but I know possibly might have taken some work to get them that way she is head up me Beta e that was in fact my my greatest intention in my in my biggest desirous Chris when I when I wrote the script and shot the film. It'd be seamless up. So the idea. Is that all these different pieces. In the back and forth in time would flow just as water flows through the river fifty five up and stuff so it helps helps that character is very passive and therefore the fluidity the back and forth could work well because he can just kind of receive them and receive back import Cedar and so he wasn't just sort of resting on a couch he might have been passed out from drugs. And that was something that also allowed me to introduce elements from the past so so hereon in this case does play the role of course as a painkiller on the film but it also has a sort of subtle element of suicide because a man in his sixties starts to take care in is quite well aware of the risk that he's taking so it's something that doesn't really have anything any kind of connection to reality but in and those moments where he's dragged out from hereon. I let those moments be what opens him up towards his past. Yeah it's really sort of in the in the planning for the film and the actual shoot. It was planned out that way because otherwise you can't just edit it back together if it wasn't planned ahead of time it's one thing that strikes me always about your films as the generosity that the characters have for each other even when they're angry with each other or they're in pain there's and the films of the spirit of a so there's a loving quality to all the interactions which I find to be extraordinary when you watch one of your films you feel almost as if the filmmaker loves you the audience or would love you if you knew us and it's a very unusual and it's a wonderful feeling and but it seems to me that the other thing I noticed this is maybe more of a comment that question question but they're all ready to engage with each other almost no matter. What the very rarely like this was each other? They're very embracing of the situation. And even if the situation is unpleasant painful and I don't know if that's anything you think about consciously but it's comes across very strongly to me he ju- cooking you. You'RE GONNA kiss so I mean on. The one hundred characters have already met each other. They know each other from the past but it also has to do is also has to do with the spontaneity of Spanish culture in general including the spontaneity fight. If that's what's necessary yes I was gonNA gun talk. Israel should allow allow the NBA. But I love the audience and in this film the characters do know each other but I've noticed many of your other films that characters who have not met before immediately connect and form relationships very quickly in a way that would be very unusual in American fillmore in American life. Possibly I always wondered if it was a very Spanish characteristic or if I was just yeah it is about this way. You're right into because I mean I don't behave like that in my mind. I'm not I'm not that as tiny. Se My reliable. I remember his first movie. Eddie someone other it was kind of a motor. That went to talk to someone a on this. You know how to approach. Show see approach the other lady on the that my characters for example in this scene covering modern approaches this woman just out of the blue starts to talk about how she likes what she's wearing And my my character in that sense are very are very off forward. They're not shied. Just approach people. Yes I I know I I envy them and this is how Quality Davis is quality. But will sometimes I took it to the streaming when you either in the writing or the directing acting. Do you have a You know how to say a an aesthetic guide of some kind like you described to always have a you have the three pieces that that you put. Maybe you've answered this already but let's ask visual question for this static once it's when you're filming our when you designing the film. Do you have for each film a guidelines or or star that. Your steering by or something like that to help you kind of that feels natural to to follow one when you're putting together the whole film as a director if amputated threaten eviction And yes of course confessed to you the thing about the three pieces but I always strive for the film to be a seamless possible. This look like a Frankenstein. Monster in the joint and as far as the visuals are concerned. I don't really think about at the mall in writing the script I really start start thinking about once a script is done and even though this is a sombre character. He's not baroque like some of my other characteristics. He's he's a solitary. Sorry Man I also then there for the narration USA fuel more steer more silver as well that with on. I've felt very very interested in that show on these movies roadshow title of Yes to rate story. It really thought of but despite the fact that the story is quite somber. One thing that I have not changed the Palette of my callers I still I still use who still rely on the same kind of colors that are bright and cheerful frightened strong colors. And so what I think with my filmmaking is. I've always tried to pursuit. The caller said are the colors of films of my childhood which are those of technicolor seen. It ain't Sheila and when I started making films it was impossible to find those colors anymore in the laboratories laboratories is primarily. So what I do I said what I do is say I put in front of my DP the the range of colors that I want him into use it. I want him to think about throughout the film. I put it in the furniture and the clothes in in in the on the floor on the walls And then I I then worked as a painter accepted I'm working with three dimensional objects and it takes me a lot of time. This is not that I I guess his talk with the talk. I do it by myself. I mean he has his knee on the. I mean the so. I'm on. I am a nightmare. For for the out of you'd explode because yeah I mean I not only asked one type of chair I asked many shows on I put it in an. I asked many different quarters and a A. I'm putting everything after I sit down with the doctor on after I decided they closed on the corner on the side of the clothes. And then I eh I then I see the whole picture on a I really I do it like like upping. She's the very beginning. And how so how long. And how much detail do you personally make. Sure of to. What extent do you do that? Do that for the whole home for each room for each character for each costume or do you have a pick some things and then give the rest of the designer to discuss with it. I do each of them. Depending on who the character is so the decor is not only speaking about my own personal taste but also those of the character for example. This film is full of books. And I don't let my art director. Just come in and fill out a book. He's actually pick out every single one of them books myself. How many books that come down Kamini total? So if it's the end establishing shot in the cameras far away Not I don't I have not necessarily picked out all all the books but let's say that if we're a little bit closer to my character dot about one hundred of the books that are behind them in the same goes for DVD's in blue. As I actually think them from my own collection And I and I put them in the background and it's not necessarily anything that anyone has meant to see. You might not even be able to read what the titles are but if you were to be able to zoom in and close up on on the DVD's you would realize that they all go with the character that represented Puerto Kailua whom decaying unum cleave in those individual and for example. I can't even stand if we have a desk. And it's even a messy dusk. I can't even stand the fact that there's a clip on this that I have not chosen. You know that kind of obsession about it. I feel much more secure on March nut confortable more secure that everything is related to the character and yet your films have this incredible free alive feeling to them. There's not the obsession is is on is not inevitable except in the result which is very there's never feeling of constriction quite the opposite even now everything is so carefully chosen so obsessively worried over. I wonder is there something. It's a big question but your relationship to making films now. Oh you've made thirty five films. Something Twenty one twenty one. I read thirty five so thanks a lot. I thought it was a lot. Perhaps thirty five viscount Mike. Count The mini Super Eight millimeter movie. That I did. Yes well when I looked up and I said that in thirty five or whatever twenty one twenty one is a lot so do you do you work. Do you feel when you first start. You're you're you're you're you don't have you don't have an identity as a filmmaker when you're young you're just yourself and you're doing what you WanNa do when when you're trying to put it out there now that you're such a well known filmmaker and you've done so many films and you've worked on so many films never mind. The audience is just what yourself. I wonder if there's some change in your relationship to writing and directing. That's a surprise to you now that you're on twenty one. Yes yes all the time no everytime we need you are repeating. I hope that I'm not repeating myself. But every tiny any something new or this is his time at the moment you are doing 'em show in you know at the beginning. I didn't know anything about about the cinematic language show. I made the first two movies. They were very underground movies. Because what I obviously Baba's I mean my intentionally was just to Feeney's one is Florrie. I'm also that was something that I have a very concerning we on to could be understood. Act as me. Why would I always thought that it was important for my movies? I guess to be understanding on the idea even in non very awkward way since the beginning in about the this is what I try. I mean we the third movie I remember. It was Dr Hobbits that I that I have as a IBM about because the other the first two it was no budget not movie then. I fell in love with the language of cinema because I can have trouble in icon have aw would have there is that everyone has it needs to be done and I was completely in love and I discovered that I'm with a trying to UC's to use it as much as possible. But I'm movies Charlie Hustle Price on a movie shawl was big adventure I know that sees the beginning. I was recur net recognizable because they were already themes that I developed the other movies a baton but is always something at least I need to have the feeling that something new or me I mean for the simple I mean when I when I wrote to this with enough these twenty one movie into first movie. I never had the impression appreciate that. I know enough that I can be sure that the movie is GonNa work. This is I mean. The uncertainty charity is is word defined for me the cinema. You kind of know what he's going to happen. Even if discrete sleep is very good. It's an iron irony scrubbed. Even this cost is good but everything is alive. You know it when you are shooting you on them which is which is good. Because he's always on the people that make the movie undescribed at some sometimes. Not Interaction goes in other direction than what you want you to be there to know. Hello in to get us to redirect it in the direction that you want ee And that's always an adventure e caught up in every actor. The participates in the film is also an adventure. Because I never know exactly what reactions they will be having and this is very exciting and it also fills me with a lot of doubt. I'm going to put. The Dow is also part of the excitement. I E situation with Albert. Oh I don't usually just in terms of cinema in terms of working with actors. Have you had experiences. Where the which are which are like the Salvadoran Berta where the where the actor was that far away from what you had conceived but he was on the year she was on the set and in the movie? And you had to. You had to somehow work with that. The difference yes. I was really lucky in my career because I mean in the ninety five percent eh the cases I was very lucky. I'm not to have these big problems but I remember the more than these list unidentified. I remember three movies on three October. Is that Congress to really. They Must Mugabe who knows I had really be problems. A preliminary vsel almost sack psychiatric problems north of Kostov to walk into the Baruch Evil and in some cases. A psychiatrist actually had to intervene so that we could keep shooting in in in all three cases. I really insisted that we kept shooting the film making the film because it was actually in doubt whether we would be able to actually finish the him but he the lips and because of problems were always personal problems actors at actually when they came in contact with the character had a psychological reaction to him that was sometimes almost verging on dangerous Reaction Not just for the movie but for themselves themselves as well and the only solution that I found other than you know you occasionally have to stop the shoe and these kinds of things is that I actually wrote some of these characters or such that. I could adopt the to the particular situation that I had at hand and for example I couldn't really watch some of these films one of these films in particular. I couldn't even see for twenty many years and then I was forced to have to see it because I had to present that somewhere and when I revisited the film I realized that it had actually it actually had become part of the film and that was an interesting new intervention. The film and I came to accept it as such and so really. The key is to continue to adapt to the new situations that are alive and in front of you and to renounce announced to ideas preconceived ideas that you had about how you wanted things to turn out and throw in the towel so you're films are so theatrical. Also they always sincere in emotional but you. The love of theater is there and you often show theatre and music performances and performance in the film. And I've just curious if you've ever. What your personal experience with the theater is have you ever? Have you directed theater. Do you want correct as this is not something you want to do because you love it clearly. Yeah absolutely a and I just said often using my movies a one St ah on Abkhaz ruin aplly. No I never did the bottom fascinated about on the case. I think it was risky. Yes to introduce a monologue movie because what. I`Ma doc very anti cinematic but in this case I took advantage of that monarch to explain. Elaine what is going to happen after I mean I through the monologue. The addiction I gave to whisper to potato information about the past of the character of Antonio that I'd even say on he's not going to say anything show. I mean what I what. I'm what I've eaten in this. This case is yes to use the theater. Komo Look Camargo. Commitments Hero for that which it was created which has to be a messenger in his Gospel and in this case it works as a messenger for for that equal to learn thinks that he did not know about salary and then it also works as the conduit through which the two characters get to reunite. And I'm also quite fascinated about the relationship that two actors develop in a in a play. Billy Clubs Komo all about Eve or opening night and so for example in films like all about Eve an opening night I'm quite interested did In the relationship between these characters who then have to share a stage and in particular the relationship between the director the writer and the actor EC they must have in this sale horrible. Yeah and then if you add the desire to the mix even better in and for example do this listen all about my mother around The Group of women of actresses who are interpreting street hardening desire And the characters are the participate in that in that also have relationships absolutely and so. I'm not really necessarily interested in doing theater. But yes I'm very much interested in the relationship between the people onstage and offstage and how they have to Oh olive with each other for three four months and for example that in just a suitcase in this particular film and it was also the case with law desire about education. I'm interested in the moment of creation an end the relationship of the creator with that moment of creation. How hit Al Gore? Ghani Cook it up with into near North on luggage and I also want to build something. That's organic that everybody can understand. Not just film directors look because otherwise it sounds to theoretical. I want to ask you about the cave in the film first of all. It's hard for me because the cave is much more beautiful than than my own apartment. The three s which is a very nice apartment. I I don't want to. It's a perfectly nice apartment but the case that's what I want to ask you. Because the way they make it ends up being very beautiful but did you grow up in a cave like no no. You didn't know then but nobody. I knew enough about that situation in that cave I wishing level that gave because when I was really I mean I was looking for rotations for the body location you said in innovate close to him. I this Cogan. These these more places full of case on team Kim these that they would have like a premium space wonderful on very weird on fantastic in more than once on and I thought that one day I will to shoot on. That was a moment. Four paid on cloudy but I didn't. I didn't leave Cave Bot what I knew what means for family. It leaves so precisely at that moment. Nine hundred sixty is being was Abba bacterial for Spain. We would've leaving in postwar period and there were a lot of ah for families remind on in that moment we have to migrate to other place some of them. They will to Germany's another to Franz. Those are the two catalunia on. We went to our region in eastern Madura. A close I mean here I mean I wish more in Amanda on this model as like two hundred minutes from Seattle and we went with my family to leave in place. It is that he's missed completely wild in Las Casas it on the of it. He could undo motocross one in. Ah The houses were made out of Dobie. And they were just sort of strewn in no particular order along the street you come into so there wasn't even say a street. St made up dirt there were sort of blackboards put on the ground. And that's what we would have to walk on. Trade was really reminds me. We must be Coppola's of of misbehave missing meteor full of dust on the MoD. But you know what you are guy. I of nine years old doesn't affect you but I knew that my mother was offered. It tried to clean that House that never it was impossible to Show I I knew what meant to lead in that precarity but what. He's really about the situation that it or the St wicket caught his three buddies. It was not a street but the families that they were leaving there. They alert wonderful families and they were very generous to us on. The My mother stopped reading then the letters because all of them all the families would would I literally the then. I used to write because I have a better life letter to write the letters on the the the next step it was that my mother invented the fact that they were all of them. I literally is. He thought. Yeah Mickan Meteo in my. My mother turned me into a teacher from one day. To the next She told the parents of these eighteen. Twenty year olds that worked out in the fields. That I wouldn't be the teacher in that. I would be teaching them how to read. Write and and the four rules that was really did that. Looks Really Real. That was real and I remember I have more than one pupil and and I have like five or six on the I was nine years old on my mother. The funny the way she said in say to me they come dresses if they were going to the doctor which meant they were wearing their best clothes e liquid of them. You get a quarterback. It's you would remember recall. And she would say to me that when they left they would say to her. He's really a tough teacher. Where all the love of anyone it didn't? I was not always about Roy older than you. The students always older. Yes I was nine and they were like eighteen gene from eighteen to twenty. How did he salvador texts to it? So naturally did it was difficult for you. Did you take to it as easily as he did. And did you enjoy. Teaching did not require the Nice thing I do remember and I don't recall it being difficult to actually I thought it was pretty easy because also the things that I was teaching them. Were fairly basic what. I don't remember that it's sort of surprising to hear that I was that Demanding of them fourteen in Colorado. Because in any case that was a nine year old boy used on home they were men almost yes. But you're very demanding with the set decorators and and I'm being told we have to stop it. Correct that's correct. I'm sorry I could go on all night from what I would say that. I still have many these to say about. Scooby Salinas thanks for listening to another. Dj Qna Rene. You can find past episodes of the director's cut wherever you listen to podcasts. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more episodes including our meet the nominees series which will feature panel discussions with Edgy Award nominated feature film and documentary directors and be sure to subscribe rate and review. US We'd love to hear your feedback and you can help fellow cinema fouls on the show. Thanks again for listening. And we'll see you next time. This podcast is produced by the directors. Guild of America. Music is by Dan.