Interview with Daniel Guzmán, Special Guest
2016 Spanish Film Festival
Daniel Guzmán Daniel Guzmán

Actor and director Daniel Guzmán is this year’s special guest of the Spanish Film Festival. He is presenting "Nothing in return" (A Cambio de Nada'), his first film, which took close to 10 years in the making; he regrets nothing. Humble and extremely approachable, Daniel welcomes us only a few hours after landing in Melbourne with tired eyes but a big smile. Talking to him feels like talking to a friend from childhood.

Synopsis: 16-year-old Darío is struggling with his parent's divorce. His neighbour Luismi is his saving grace, his unconditional friend. Together they navigate through their adolescence, going for joy rides on motor scooters and spying on girls. An unforgettable, un-missable coming-of-age journey.


- First time in Australia?

Yes, it is. I'm only going to be here for a bit over a week but it's all good; it means I'll have to come back to discover more!

- You have written, produced and directed your film "Nothing in return", by yourself for close to 10 years. You may have put a lot aside in order to concentrate on this journey; after you finish with this international promotional tour, what do you look forward to doing most?

Many things: to spend time with my family and friends; to recover both emotionally and physically; to travel and to keep on learning. I definitely need more 'me time'. However, I can't stop creating; I'm always writing, exploring new ideas. It's something you can't simply stop doing when you've been in the industry for so long now. I have the need to keep on making movies, to keep on telling stories. I am already working on my next film...

-  With this film you won two Goya Awards (Spain's version of the 'Oscars') for Best New Director and Best New Actor. Is this the film you envisioned when you got started 10 years ago?

Yes, I have definitely filmed the movie I wanted to do from the very beginning. I haven't compromised a thing and that's probably why it's taken me so long! I feel liberated and extremely satisfied with the finished product.

- During a time in your life, you took part in boxing championships. What experience did you bring from those boxing days?

The hard work and the discipline, and to not throw the towel when things get hard. I'm also very stubborn... so I guess that helps (laughs).

- What's the main difference between acting and directing?

I have been acting for over 20 years, which I think gives me some means and resources. As a director, I'm more in control as I can cherry-pick and therefore I can establish a relationship between my choices and the results, the good and the bad ones. I enjoy taking credit but also full responsibility. Also, I deeply respect the actor's roles; this understanding allows me to mix professional actors, teenagers literally taken from the streets, and with my 94 year old nanny who has no acting experience whatsoever. Undertaking the casting was probably the longest process involved.

- Which one was the hardest actor/actress to find?

It was definitely Miguel, the main character, as I was looking for an actor with a very specific physique, amongst other things. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. This film is based on many autobiographical stories from my teenage years; deep down, I was looking to find myself to fulfill the main character really.

- You also did the shooting in the flats where you grew up. How could you do that in less than 50m²?

Ha ha ha... Well, I chose those places because they would give more authenticity and strength to the film. While we were shooting, all the team had to wait in the hallway except for the actors, the director of photography and myself. In between shots, the rest of the team had to take it in turns to get into the flat to do their job. Truly team work. The neighbors were glad to see I was finally doing something worth doing instead of getting into trouble!

- Your grandmother Antonia, now 94 years old, has acted for the first time in your film. You have a very close relationship with her that shows. Is she aware of the success of the film?

Yes, she is very proud and happy for me. Although she is sick of being 'famous'! (laughs). She is the cutest: I told her they stole my Goya Award at the after party of the ceremony and she was really worried about it... I gave her the award live on TV during an interview with her and she was really surprised. I love her to death, I wouldn't have been able to finish the film without her. She gave me the strength to continue until the end.

- We wish she were here! Does she know how far away you are right now?

In fact, yes! We have relatives who moved to Australia decades ago. I talked with her yesterday and she asked me if had seem them at the premiere. She can't wait to have me back in Spain.

 

Interview by Sara Bosch

Watch 'Nothing In Return':
www.spanishfilmfestival.com/films/nothing-in-return