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ECAM Incubator Participant Daniel Castro on Catfish Comedy ‘Old Man in Love’

For his second feature, Navarre’s Daniel Castro will adapt a true story of international catfishing and drug-trafficking to construct a protagonist that inspires empathy and a load of laughs

MADRID — As far as film genres go, comedies often have the greatest difficulties in traveling abroad and translating in a meaningful way to foreign audiences. But, by the very nature of its narrative, Daniel Castro’s “Old Man in Love,” and upcoming project and part of the ECAM Incubator for Spanish films in development, will to buck that trend.

An intercontinental “love story,” “Old Man in Love” follows a too-trusting professor in his 70s across the globe as he looks to track down the four-decades-younger girl of his dreams.

Carlos, who teaches at the University of Navarre – one of Spain’s most prestigious and conservative Catholic universities – has all but given up on finding love as his online endeavors to court someone less than half his age have so far proved fruitless.

Just as his hope runs out, the genial geriatric is contacted by a young swimsuit model in Argentina named Claudia, and things quickly move forward between the two. In what audiences will see right away as a clear catfishing situation, Carlos pours his heart out to the young lady who refuses to send photos, as she is looking for someone who loves her for who she is, rather than what she looks like.

Carlos’ friend Marcelo, the sole voice of reason in this picture, convinces Carlos that this must be a scam of some sort and in lieu of any proof of her identity, Carlos finally cuts off communication with Claudia. Shortly thereafter Claudia reaches out, offering to pay for Carlos to come visit her on a commercial shoot in Chile. Convinced that this is the verification he has been looking for, Carlos sets off on a transatlantic series of misadventures and missed connections that end about as well as one might expect.

The film has a projected budget of €1.3million ($1.53million), and will be the fourth feature produced by Spain’s Jaime Gona through his company Gonita, its first in co-production with Latin America. Shooting is planned to kick off in September 2019 with release the following spring.

Castro discussed the upcoming project with Variety in a trio of interviews held with participants in the ECAM Incubator.

Comedy often springs from tragedy, and your proposed protagonist is truly a tragic character. How do you plan to make his plight funny in the face of such a pathetic tale?

The truth is that I always write tragedies. Terrible movies with characters disconnected, alone and deceived. But I like to take that tragedy to a point where it becomes funny. Take the character to such a degree of pathos that he becomes loved by the spectator. I think it has to do with the look and tone in which it is told, so that the viewer does not feel led to judge what he sees, but to understand and laugh with it.

How flexible are you with filming locations? You are taking liberties in fictionalizing the story, so it seems you could film almost anywhere!

We would like to shoot half of our movie in Spain, hopefully in Pamplona, my hometown, but the second half, could be shot in almost any Latin American country. Of course, I would make some changes in the script in order to make the story fit the location.

What is the state of the project in the moment? Is the script finished?

Yes, I just finished my third draft. I think Mar Coll’s and Diego San Jose’s remarks (they were my mentors at “The Incubator”) have been really useful. I’m really happy with this last draft.

Have you started casting? I imagine you will need a strong lead to carry this film as he is the one constant we will see throughout.

Yes, the protagonist is in almost every scene of the film! I usually tell stories that follow a main character all the way, so, as you say, we will need a solid actor. Luckily for us, there is no shortage of Spanish male actors in their fifties. Right now my producer and I are thinking over every option.

What did you learn on “Illusion” that you will bring with you to this film?

“Illusion” was my first feature, a no-budget film which was surprisingly successful on the Spanish independent movie scene (if such a thing exists). I learned a lot about everything movie-related with “Illusion.” I was the protagonist, writer, director and producer. First of all, I am learning there are things I’m not good at: Producing being one of them. Luckily, now Jaime Gona will do that. Another thing I learned from “Illusion” is that I am able to tell stories about clueless, narcissistic characters and make them funny and even tender. I hope I can do this again, this time in a more professional film.

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