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Production Journal

Celeste Carrasco and Gemma Cubero discuss their filmmaking process, shooting on a tight budget and making it work with a crew of two.

POV: Can you describe the film stylistically? What influenced your aesthetic decisions on the film?

Ella Es el Matador: Celeste Carrasco and Gemma Cubero

Celeste Carrasco and Gemma Cubero

Celeste Carrasco: Making this film has been a real learning process. We had so many restrictions, due partly to lack of money and partly to the fact that we are a two-person crew, and that’s very technically limiting. But I also think we used it to our advantage. When we would borrow a video camera that wasn’t so great, we would think about our limitations, and shoot the footage in a way that worked to our advantage. Creatively, I think knowing our limitations ended up being very powerful for us.

So the aesthetic of the film was determined by our limitations — technical and financial. We borrowed different cameras throughout our filmmaking process, and each of those cameras gave us an aesthetic. We shot in the alley around a bullring where the bullfighters stand, and that alley is very narrow, about a meter and a half wide. There, you can’t have a big camera, a boom or even a tripod! So I shot footage without a tripod, and that’s why the film looks the way it looks!

During shooting, I was trying to get very, very close to the characters so that the viewer can almost smell them. Getting close and seeing all the details can tell you a lot of things. I wanted to capture all the contradictions of bullfighting — there’s a very delicate side to bullfighting, and you can see that in the details of a matador’s outfit, but there’s also a lot of brutality in bullfighting, and I tried to capture that with my shots of the animals.

POV: It’s just the two of you in the field. Tell us a little bit about how you work together and what your roles are.

Carrasco: I worked with the camera, and Gemma helped me with the sound when she was next to me. But much of the time she was taking care of many other things. It’s just the two of us, and we’ve played all of the filmmaking positions! We’ve directed, produced, done sound and camera, driven, worked as production assistants and so on. But on this film, mostly Gemma interviewed the characters while I operated the camera.

Gemma Cubero: We’re a two-person crew! I think we work really well together and I think we complement each other. When we’re on a shoot, I take care of the production stuff, like access and being with the character, and she shoots the material. What’s amazing is that when we look back over the material, the two of us don’t have to discuss it much. It’s an intuitive process between us, and it’s hard to describe. But for sure, she is more technical than I am. For example, during the editing process, Celeste sat with the editor the entire time, and I worked on getting other stuff done. But then I would watch what they did together and provide a separate perspective.

I think that’s been one of the surprises of making the film — we never thought we would just be a two-person crew, but we are both committed to doing whatever it takes. We didn’t have the funding to pay a full crew, and we wanted to finish, so it was just the two of us and we realized during the production that that brought out our best work.





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