INTERVIEW WITH JAIME DEZCALLAR

LA MIGALA

a film by Jaime Dezcallar

Do you remember the moment you realized you wanted to make films?

No, I don’t. As a teenager I was very lost regarding my future. I didn’t even think I could become a filmmaker. In my family there’s a lot of diplomats and lawyers so I studied law, and I didn’t like it, so I signed up for dramatic arts in the evenings to take away the stress from “the serious classes”. I started to make all kinds of projects with friends. I mostly wrote stuff and acted in very cheap and very fun experiments. Then, when I got my degree I got a job, not at a lawyer’s office, but in TV. Working there and after a couple of years of seeing directors and actors work I realized that what I wanted was to be behind the camera. That I wanted to make films. But it was a very gradual realization.

What are the early film watching experiences that had the most impact on you as a filmmaker?

As a kid I had a couple of films that I could watch over and over again. They were “Taras Bulba” with Tony Curtis and Yul Brynner and “Objective, Burma!” with Errol Flynn. I guess they were movies my dad had at home and I was allowed to watch whenever I wanted. I loved them. Then, when I was thirteen, I watched “A Clockwork Orange” and it blew my mind. I became concious of how much a movie could do to a mind and I fell in love with movies. That was a decisive moment.

The theme of heart break is obviously universal, but I was wondering if you see anything particularly Spanish about your work.

I love spanish cinema, just yesterday I was watching Calle Mayor by Juan Antonio Bardem (Javier Bardem’s grandfather). It’s a masterpiece. So human and so cruel. I watch a lot of everything and I think I have many different influences. I tend to think that I mix a lot of Europe and the USA in how I try to develop rythm.

La Migala is a short story by mexican writer Juan José Arreola. I adapted it to “my life”. To what it would have been like if it happened to me (I’m from Madrid). So it’s set in a typicall apartment in the center of Madrid and all the cast and crew were spaniards. I guess everything about it is Spanish, but not in a folkloric sense.

How loyal is your film to the original legend of the Migala?

The voice over in the film is basically the short story. I mean, the real lines writen by the author. All the action surrounding them are invented. It’s a page long story. I made it into a 14 minute short. It’s an amazing story. I thought that if I messed around a lot with it I could only make it worse. So I tried to be very loyal. At the same time, I tried to make it my own.

There's a lot of tension in this film. Where there any films that you were looking at from a technical point of view to help you achieve this kind of atmosphere?

No. Some friends and people at festivals talk about Polanski or David Lynch. I didn’t know. I just knew that I wanted to direct it in a very austere and raw way. Not trying to make it fancy but going to the point. Telling the story with the fewest images I could. In my day to day life, I watch a lot of very bad films. I watch a lot of cheap horror and the like. I guess I learn a lot from them too. I see mistakes and I learn about how not to do things.

What was it like to direct a spider?

It was hell. She had no dramatic education. She was never ready. I would say “action” and the spider wouldn’t move a leg.

The first take we shot was the spider eating the cockroach. We had 9 different spiders and the first one catching its prey would be the star in the film. They hadn’t been fed in some days in order to have them hungry. Well, none of them wanted it. It took us about 4 hours to try and get the shot. In the end, one of the spiders reacts to the cockroach and it looks like it could have bit it. That’s the spider we got for the rest of the film, but the cockroach got away perfectly fine. We just added sound in post-production to make it look like it’s crunched.

This particular spider’s bite wasn’t very poisonous, so when it felt that it was in danger it would throw (as a defense) its own hair, which was poisnous, into the air. Very itchy. We were 20 people working in a closed room in July in Madrid with no air conditioning. So at some points we had to turn on a fan to get some fresh air. All the poisonus hair would fly into the air and everybody would start scratching themselves. I think I still owe them a drink or two.

What are you working on at the moment?

Lots of different projects. I currently work in advertisement and I do all kinds of things. I love shooting and I’m helping out some friends with their projects too. As for fiction I’m working on another short film that I will shoot early in 2015. I’m very excited about the idea. The script is in the oven. Almost done. In the meanwhile, I’ll keep reading and writing.

I was born in Madrid in 1981 and I grew up listening to fantastic stories and watching (my home was a special place in that sense) the most incredible people pass by. The magical realm was something I truly believed in as a child. As that faith disappeared I replaced its emptiness with films and literature.


I was strike twice at the same time with The Clockwork Orange and The Time of the Hero, a film and a book that I probably shouldn’t have watch so young. They were followed by other directors and writers that I have come to admire deeply such as John Huston, Dostoyevsky, David Lean, Alexander Dumas, Bob Fosse, Julio Cortazar, Luis Buñuel, Kurt Vonnegut and so many other talented narrators.


I entered the world of theater at the same time as I was in law school, a degree that I completed knowing that I would not dedicate to professionally. I started working in television instead. After three years I decided to move to NYC to study filmmaking and I learned there everything I could before I returned to Madrid where I carry out my projects nowadays.