Review Fix chats with Review Fix chats with 9 Steps’ Marisa Crespo to find out what inspired the film and more.
Review Fix: Why is the subject of this film important today?
Marisa Crespo: The film deals with universal themes that almost all viewers identify with, such as the fear of darkness and parent-child relationships. One of the messages we want to transmit is the non-material inheritance, often we are not aware that one leaves a non-material legacy, a series of values that are transmitted from generation to generation, it is very possible that if a father is cruel to his son, he ends up becoming a cruel person. “You reap what you sow”. We also seek to draw attention to the new generations’ use of technologies and networks, and the obsession with getting some fame through them at any price.
Review Fix: What inspired this film?
Crespo: This film is very autobiographical (laughs). When I was a child I was afraid of the dark. We spent our summers in a big country house in a small village in La Mancha, and I had walk along some dark corridors in the house in the dark of the night to go to the bathroom that was quite an adventure! On the other hand, my father was always a very demanding man who wanted his children to face the difficulties by their own so that in the future we would be prepared adults. I never woke him up to take me to the bathroom, but surely, if I had, he would have behaved like Saul’s father.
Now my father is seventy years old and I am sure that if my nephew, his grandson, asked him to accompany him to the bathroom at night, not only would he turn on the light, but he would carry him there in his arms, especially after seeing 9 steps (laughs).
Review Fix: How hard was it to make this film?
Crespo: We had to overcome two challenges: finding a corridor with the characteristics we needed and finding a seven-year-old boy who could act our story. For the corridor we had lot of offers, it is curious how many apartments with long corridors there are in Valencia. Regarding the main character, after several castings, we were beginning to despair because we could not find the Saul of 9 steps. We met Pablo Muñoz in the last session. He was accompanying his brother to the casting. We invited him also to participate in the casting and as soon as we saw him through the camera, Moisés and I looked at each other and at that moment we knew we had found the protagonist. Of course, we had to rehearse and prepare the character, but Pablo made it very easy for us. He’s an extremely intelligent and sensitive kid and working with him was very simple and fluid.
Review Fix: Tell me about the cast.
Crespo: Regarding the main character, after several castings, we were starting to despair because we couldn’t find the Saul of 9 steps. In the last session was when we met Pablo Muñoz, who was accompanying his brother to the casting. We invited him to also participate in the casting and as soon as we saw him through the camera, Moises and I looked at each other and at that moment we knew we had found the protagonist. Of course, we had to rehearse and prepare the character, but Pablo made it very easy for us. He’s an extremely intelligent and sensitive kid and working with him was very simple and fluid.
His father plays Jordi Ballester, a professional Valencian actor we already knew. We liked his physique very much, and he also shares features with Pablo, in fact some of his colleagues thought that Pablo was one of their sons.
Review Fix: How was the sensation on the set?
Crespo: The filming of 9 steps was very special and left us so good memories. Despite being shot in one day, we were able to shoot all the shots and we finished on time. We chose to work with a small team and that was a success. Each professional was totally focused on their task and an excellent atmosphere was created. We finished the shoot exhausted, but with a great feeling of euphoria, each and every one of us had given our best and enjoyed it.
Review Fix: How did the audience react to the 9 Steps?
Crespo: The public’s reaction to 9 Steps is excellent and is backed up by the more than 30 public awards it has won to date. 9 steps transmits in a very short time a great amount of emotions, dosed millimetrically in the 7 minutes that the short lasts. The public projections are very gratifying, we love to camouflage ourselves among the spectators and to feel next to them. While they enjoy the short, we enjoy their sensations. It’s a symbiosis. At the end of the screening many tell us that they have felt like when they were children, that this is one of our goals, and we love this.
On the other hand, as we did 9 steps as a sample for a long project, the great acceptance it is having gives us security on the feature film project. Well, that and the large number of people who, after seeing the short film, claim to be “wanting more” and ask us about the long project.
Review Fix: Which films inspired you the most?
Crespo: Consciously, we weren’t inspired by any film. It was very clear to us that we wanted the viewer to feel like a frightened child again, and we were inspired by those feelings. A couple of critics have told us that they think it’s a “very Kubrick” film, which has made us feel very proud of our film, because we consider him to be a genius and we both admire him deeply.
Review Fix: What have you learned from yourself throughout this process?
Crespo: I have reinforced the idea that if you work hard and believe in what you do, you can achieve your goals. When we shot 9 steps we were aware that it was a simple short film in terms of production and concept, but when we saw the team fully committed, leaving all their energy in the project, and when we attended the first screening and felt the enthusiasm of the audience, we realised what we were dealing with. I have always believed in teamwork, and with 9 steps I ratify my dogma.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Crespo: We have several feature film projects at various stages of development. One of them is 9 steps, in fact, we shot the short as a sample for this feature film project. I hope this will be next.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Crespo: We conceived 9 steps as a story for adults, but, surprisingly, there are many children’s festivals that are programming it. Kids love it. Recently a psychologist contacted us because she thinks it’s a very interesting story to use as therapy with children to deal with the fear of darkness. 9 steps never stops surprising us.