The cinema shares with photography a surprising proposal: permanence in the face of death. But, in addition, it is a realistic art, with some conditions that make it very poor: if I want to show this classroom, I can not fake a different classroom. I can roll with grain or without grain, decorate, but I can not change the site. He is not an heir of the theater, but an armed arm of the novel. The first films have great narrative capacity: they have temporary jumps, they are able to make a close-up of a knife, of someone who cries, and immediately jump to a house. They are resources that were not available to the theater and yes to the novel.
The first writers come from journalism, which emerges long before the cinema but shares its obsession to tell what happens. The cinema inherits from journalism the sensation of immediacy, the sensation of making you believe, of making you see, although it has a branch related to the visual arts.
As soon as cinema begins to be narrative, literary works begin to be adapted. It is a demonstration that silent cinema was also constructed with words. In the first years of spoken cinema, cinema goes through a language crisis until it realizes that it is two things at once: image and word. There is also confusion: the cinema as a literary adaptation or as an original creation. Actually, cinema is always an adaptation. As a language, you need to adapt any idea, story or anecdote to offer it as a movie. Simply, some films are born from a previous artistic or literary work.
A script is the movie told, in the same way that you tell a friend about a movie to go see it. The first obligation of a script is to make believe that the movie exists. As much as there are hundreds of techniques, the intuition and narrative intention of people is superior to any established formula. The manuals take many examples and try to see how they are similar. They reach conclusions that we would reach in a quarter of an hour. There are as many types of narration as there are ways of telling an anecdote. If someone says: “You will not believe what happened to me yesterday”, he raises a narrative resource. But, if it says: “Do you know that I have broken up with my girlfriend? It’s that I have to tell you, “uses another. They are the same resources that directors and screenwriters use.
You have to build the movie with words because cinema is probably the most expensive of artistic languages. In that it resembles architecture more than any other medium. To build a building you have to make some plans and some studies. It is a process of collecting money, which uses seduction mechanisms. Many people believe that what seduces the producer is a script. It is a mistake based on ignorance of the industry. Most of the time the producers are seduced by what is around the script, which often they have not even read. The script is our value when Julia Roberts is not interested in our project, or when our career is not enough to give us a thousand euros for a film. So we wrote a script with words. And we put in them the same thing that Nabokov said about the literary process: “Thought has only one way of expressing itself: action.” In cinema, that has two possibilities: words and images, and their combination. For this are the resources that we have mentioned and the most important, the metaphor. When I studied film in the United States, which seems to be the furthest thing from film intellectualism, the first thing I was taught is that to write good scripts you have to read a lot of poetry, because it is the literary genre that uses the most variety of metaphors and transpositions of images for narrate. Poetry proposes images that have remained almost like clichés: neither the filmmakers nor the photographers invent that sadness is a crystal on which the rain falls, nor that loneliness is a person who walks among the crowd. It was the poets. Good filmmakers generate those resources cinematically.
Cinema needs planning because it is expensive. My brother Máximo was a sculptor and, in order not to waste stone, he drew the piece he was going to make. Why was not a director going to do it? Do you lose spontaneity? Only if you do not know how to add spontaneity to what has already been written. Do you lose invention capacity in the shooting? It will hardly be a place of invention a shoot, because it is a place where everyone asks questions that must be solved in a second and where everyone wants to know when it is cut to eat. Berlanga said: “The script is the Gestapo”, but it was with his script well written. In my experience, when actors improvise, they end up saying what is written. There is some suspicion towards the word in the filmmakers who say: “I do not read.” But many writers do not either. And, what’s more, many can not read as much as they write. Some filmmakers say that they do not know the references, but the references do not come only from what we have read, but also from what they have transmitted to us.
The birth of a movie is like the pop of a match match. You have to rub four or five times. You have to do two things for the match to catch: apply the correct force and that the materials are ready. The idea does not arise from a spontaneous birth, but needs to collide with what you have inside. Azcona told how the stroller was born: he lived next to the Bernabéu and one day crossed the street at the end of a game, and at a traffic light three or four disabled motorcycles stopped. And hey they say: “They’re killed, they do not run, they do not seem to have legs.” That observation of the misery of human judgment triggers an idea in Azcona that transforms into a movie where not even that scene takes place, which tells the story of an old man who wants a stroller and murders his family because they do not want to buy him one. My films are born of something I see and find their partner within the many other things that I have observed. You almost never go looking for an idea; rather she finds you. You always get caught working on something else. When Buñuel and Carrière wrote, they did a great exercise. Every morning they looked for items in the newspaper that would serve them for the film they were making. On the other hand, the search without an address is not valid. One should only look for the movie when he knows the movie he is going to make.
The idea can be abstract or concrete. The executioner of Berlanga starts from a real scene: in one of the executions of Valencia the man with the club is new and the one who is going to be executed says: “No, no, come up here, press here.” That remains engraved to Berlanga and becomes an executioner who is dragged to his task, and a social metaphor. Once you have the idea you must find the metaphor to tell it. The usual mistake is to do it the other way around, like when you hear: “I’d like to do a policeman.” It’s as if they say to you: “We’re going to make a meal with a lot of iron.” Of course, food should have protein, but it’s also important that the lentils can be eaten.
The idea develops in your head. It is important not to take notes, because the written word is reducing: it brings the abstract, the brilliant, the horrible reality. Every idea loses power when writing it. You have to let it grow before. And you just have to start writing down when you think it breaks your memory possibilities, that there are so many good things that you will forget if you do not pass them to paper. In any case, this is an impression that I question: forgetting is the best co-writer.
When the film is mature, I make a list of things that happen: it usually goes from one to twenty and none of the phrases occupies more than half a line of a folio. When you have those fourteen or twenty episodes that the film contains, you discover that what you thought was a great movie is not only not, it is predictable and bad. You break that sheet and fill in a sheet with twenty-four points. When the sheet has forty-eight points, you can start writing. Then the paper itself is the real test: if that run is held, if you see that there are no huge holes of understanding, that everything has a meaning, that each of the points propels the story, there is a movie.
To learn, I’ve done the reverse process with movies that I considered good. I realized that it was nothing more than that, that there is no mystery. To make The apartment or The spirit of the hive nobody has resorted to magic. They have resorted to order, organization and narrative value.
If you’ve done the job well, you never stop when you write the script. People tell you: “It’s just that I’ve blocked myself.” The blockade does not exist. What happens is that you have started writing ahead of time. Of course the movie changes when you write it, but it changes because it went somewhere: it finds a better place, a better metaphor. Literature and cinema are simple trades and should be done in a very structured way.