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How I Made It: Non-Living (2021)

Alex and Natalia reside in an isolated rural house. They have achieved worldwide success as authors of children's stories, but everything falls apart for them when they lose Jonah, their only son. Five weeks after the afternoon when the child's condition worsened and they left the house in a stampede, they return home for the first time, with different purposes: Natalia, packing the basics and moving on on their own; Alex, trying to convince her to reconsider her decision. The discovery of a message from Jonah, inviting them to embark on a treasure hunt game, upsets their plans and tests their nerves.

87 Mins | English | Horror, Drama | 2021 | Spain

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, Diorama brings you the experience of the Director of the film - Agustín Rubio

Why this subject matter for your film?

There is no matter more universal than death, and the mourning of parents for their child constitutes one of the greatest fears, or enigmas, for every human being. How to overcome it? Is this possible to do? Is it as simple as "looking ahead", or do you have to do some kind of exercise, of exorcism? As someone raised in a Catholic culture, I am obsessed with guilt, and it strikes me as one of the richest items to play with, especially in the horror genre.

Where did you find the story for this film?

The story is the result of thinking a lot about how to make a film with as few elements as possible (two adult actors and a child, and a house), to lighten the production and thus guarantee that I could carry it out by myself -and my producer. There is a very topical element in the film, almost a MacGuffin, that I can not mention because it would spoil a surprise twist, but that makes the film, which was shot in June 2019, anticipated some of the ramifications of the pandemic that we are facing right now. In this regard, I was inspired by the observation of the reality that surrounds me: as a creator, I am convinced that you must have the radar permanently in operation to capture the air of the times, not in an opportunistic way. I read the press daily -I never spend less than an hour reading the newspaper. I think that leaves a residue that, even if unconsciously, ends up emerging when imagining stories.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

Shooting the movie was as difficult as it was fun. It is based on very long shots of up to fourteen minutes, in which the two protagonists (and, in some shots, also their son) walked the house from top to bottom. We had a tight filming schedule of ten days and a very limited budget, so we had to get a shot every day. We couldn't fail. So it was an ongoing challenge and a constant source of learning, both from a technical and disciplinary point of view.

Did you face any problems in releasing the film?

We continue to face them! Right now, we are doing the festivals route, and we are doing quite well. At the same time, we continue to negotiate the distribution in different territories. We have high expectations and we are optimistic, but distributing a first film, produced 100% independently, is not a bed of roses.

What was your background before making your first film?

I studied the Audiovisual Communication degree at the University more than twenty years ago. I made a short and a medium-length film, both with very little means. Afterwards, I started teaching, which is still my main livelihood. Two years before Non-Living, I decided to go back to practice, so I shot two fiction short films, already fully professional: The Landing (2017) and Wrapper (2018). Both helped me to regain my rhythm and gain the trust of a first-rate team of technicians. Thanks to the support of that environment, it has been possible to carry out the film in the conditions in which we have achieved it.

How do you think filmmakers like you can overcome common challenges like finance and distribution?

Those challenges are the same ones that have always existed, and they will continue to be there. It is true that circumstances change for each generation, some for the better and others for the worse. For example, the reduction and improvement of technology is a fact that undoubtedly favors us. On the contrary, the competition is enormous nowadays, the standards of production (and demands of the audience) are only increasing, and it is much more difficult to mobilize illusions in an altruistic way. Due to my way of being, my experience, and especially my age, which is more difficult for a producer to bet on me as if he were doing it for a promising young filmmaker, I am more and more in favor of being possible and autonomous, and keep shooting. Whatever: tooth and nail, although the result may not be perfect. But always keep going.

Official Poster: Non-Living

How to Reach the Director

Agustín Rubio





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