BARCELONA – “Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island?” is the second directorial outing from Spain’s Jota Linares (“Animales sin collar”) a Netflix Original premiering on Friday, March 22 in competition at the Malaga Spanish Language Film Festival.
Starring María Pedraza, Jaime Lorente, Pol Monen and Andrea Ros, the film is the movie adaptation of a successful play which found remarkable success on Spain’s off-stage circuit.
The director says: “It’s my love-hate letter to my generation; a dramatic comedy about young people facing up to the person they have become. It’s a necessary, yet uncommon generational story in cinema.”
Variety talked to producer Beatriz Bodegas at La Canica Films (“Didi Hollywood,” “The Fury of a Patient Man”), about the film, and the significance of Netflix’s presence in Spain.
You have already tested the story on the stage. What were the main changes for the film adaptation?
It began as a short (“Ratas”) by the same director, and then it was brought to the stage where it became an audience and critical success. Linares was really eager to make a feature from it and we provide some air to the story, with elements that the stage didn’t allow such as different locations or close-ups.
Is the target audience young people?
I think the target is wider in the cinematic version of the story, although the stage version already had audiences of all ages. We hope the target now will be 16-year-olds and many more.
15 to 25 year-olds is particularly a challenging demographic in Spain. Why?
Right now there are fewer productions aimed at these ages. The very young and adults are the targets in our country with the largest offerings. Our movie looks for a kind of audience which not many movies are currently addressing. But, we believe that the story has a universal scope for more general audiences.
It’s a generational portrait with a bittersweet tone.
Yes. It’s a story exploring that time when you must take a step forward somewhere between what you wanted to become in your youth, and what you will actually be able to be.
How did Netflix become involved?
We were shooting Linares’ previous feature and offered “Island” to Netflix. They became involved very quickly. I told them that I really wanted to work in a different way than my usual productions, and I was really excited with the idea of shooting a Netflix Original. I must say that our experience has been excellent; we enjoyed complete freedom to make the feature –in casting, shooting, edition, all the production processes.
What effect does Netflix have in territories like Spain?
If it hadn’t been for Netflix this movie –and many more– wouldn’t get done. Right know it’s been very difficult to make a medium-budget feature in Spain. Netflix gives you that freedom, and this is very welcome. In addition to that, if you know that 139 million of Netflix clients are potential viewers, it gives you a unique confidence for its international reach. Nowadays you don’t have to just make the movie; you have to look for formulas for the audiences to see it. And that is really difficult. Linares and I never thought about a conventional financing model for “Who Would You Take to a Deserted Island?”, because we think that the right exploitation and suitable audiences should come from Netflix.
You also don’t have to depend on the broadcasters and their publicity artillery…
Yes. Netflix allows you to close financing with certain directors and movies that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. You don’t have to worry about the box office. You have secured distribution and you know what reach the movie will have. From there it’s up to you whether the movie works or doesn’t, but you know at least you are going to be available in a huge number of homes. Beyond that, young audiences are consuming massively from platforms, and I really believe that it not only makes them online consumers but could also take them to theaters.
Do you have any upcoming projects at La Canica Films?
Yes, we have a comedy directed by Daniel Guzmán (“Nothing in Return”) and a drama by Raúl Arévalo ( “The Fury of a Patient Man”). Both are actor-directors.