Neto Villalobos’ ‘Untamed Helmets’ Casts a Light on Male Friendship

Costa Rican Glam-Rock Music heats up the soundtrack

SANTIAGO DE CHILE  — A deadpan comedic ode to male friendship and budding adulthood on the streets of San José, Costa Rica, Neto Villalobos’ “Untamed Helmets” (“Los Cascos Indomables”) is among the eight rough cuts participating at SANFIC’s work in progress section.

Armed with a degree in sociology and subsequent studies in film direction from Barcelona, Villalobos used his investigative field work skills to identify a set of non-pro actors to play the band of motorcycle messengers in his film. Just like in his feature debut “All About the Feathers” (“Por las Plumas”), only the female role is played by an actor. In “Untamed Helmets,” theatre actress Daniela Mora plays the girlfriend of lead character Mancha (“Blotch”), named after the wine-colored birthmark on his face. Glam-rock music plays an integral element in the comedy.

“Helmets” was developed at the Cannes Festival’s Cinefondation Residence, Puertos Cine, Paris Co-production Village, Produire aud Sud, the Br Lab and the Cinéma Développement program of the 27th Toulouse Cinelatino Fest. Financial backing came from Ibermedia, the now defunct Costa Rican fund Cinergia, Costa Rican arts fund ProArtes and state fund El Fauno. Its producers are Pacifica Grey, la Sucia Centroamericana and Dominga Sotomayor’s Cinestación of Chile.

This is your second film, what was your feature debut “All About the Feathers” about? 

It was about a security guard whose life changes for both the better and the worse after he secures a fighting cock. It also has a deadpan comedic tone. It premiered at Toronto’s Discovery sidebar and New Directors at San Sebastian in 2013.

What did you do between your feature films?

I’ve been working on an experimental feature film, “Jamón,” which is backed by the Tribeca Latin America Fund, where I’ve been tracking a couple for one day a month for some three, four years now. I don’t know when it will end. I also co-wrote and co-directed a short, “El Gran Libano,” with Lebanese filmmaker Mounia Akl, who studied at Columbia U. It screened at Directors’ Fortnight this year.

How did you find your lead actor, Arturo Pardo, and the rest of the cast for “Untamed Helmets”?

I wanted to find someone with a familiar-looking face, someone we can all identify with. Pardo’s actually a folk singer. I met with a number of these motorcycle messengers and asked them to join the cast. For Mora, this is her film debut.

You’ve said that glam-rock will be an important element in “Untamed Helmets.” How are you planning to achieve this?

I’m working with Pablo Rojas, who is pretty well known on Costa Rica’s indie music circuit; he’s certainly the most talented. He’ll be composing and performing the glam-rock music in the film, a first for Costa Rican cinema. I’ve directed video clips of his band.

How is the state of Costa Rican cinema these days?

It’s a small country of just four million inhabitants, but more films are being made, an average of four to eight a year. There are various film funds to tap, including ProArtes, and the two-year old state fund, El Fauno. Cinergia, which backed my film, is now gone.

What is your next project?

I’m focusing on completing “Untamed Helmets” at the moment, but then am also moving to Atlanta with my wife who is getting a PhD there, possibly by September or October. We have no kids yet; the films are our kids. With all the movies being made in Atlanta, I hope I find new work opportunities there.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content