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[Interview] Director Nacho Vigalondo On How Normal People Face The Apocalypse, ‘Extraterrestrial’ And ‘Windows’

Focus World will distribute Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Nacho Vigalondo’s science fiction comedy Extraterrestrial in partnership with Tugg this Friday, June 15th. The movie will be released in theaters and via video on demand (VOD) and will also be available for audiences nationwide to create their own theatrical screenings through the Tugg platform. It’s a great little movie, a very charming look at what a group of people would do when faced with what might be the end of the world and how they try to go about their normal lives.

I recently hopped on the phone with Vigalondo (who also directed Timecrimes) and found him to be a delightful interview. We talked about the concepts behind the film and one of its’ core truths – when faced with destruction, most of us wouldn’t be the hero.

In the film, “When Julio wakes up in a strange apartment after a night of partying, he’s pleasantly surprised to discover it belongs to a beautiful one-night-stand he can’t remember – Julia. What’s already an awkward situation is made even more so when they discover a giant flying saucer hovering above the city, which is now deserted. Now Julio must contend with a jealous ex-boyfriend, an eccentric neighbor – and very possibly the end of the world!

In addition to the Tugg campaign, Extraterrestrial will have initial theatrical releases in select cities including Brooklyn, NY (at reRun’s Gastropub Theater) and Seattle, WA (at the Uptown Theatre) on June 15th; North Hollywood, CA (at Laemmle’s Noho 7), on June 22nd; and in Texas (at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema locations) in June.

To request a screening through Tugg, visit Extraterrestrial On Tugg. Head inside for the interview.

What was it like moving from Timecrimes to Extraterrestrial? They’re quite different. I’s almost like a Woody Allen movie. Was it you wanting to get out of a darker space?

I wasn’t trying to make a less dark film. What I tried to do was make a story more about characters rather than a complex plot. I wanted to make a movie that was purely driven by them. Because my next film, Windows, is a thriller action movie with lots of twists. And I don’t want to be this director that pushes the same button again and again. I wanted to have totally different mechanics.

You’ve got five actors total in the film. And only four of them really interact with each other. What’s it like trying to find the four people you’re hinging your entire movie on?

I wanted to work with casting and I wanted to have a community feeling during shooting. So all of the actors are people I’ve worked with before. I knew these people so most of the roles were written specifically for them. I wanted to really explore their chemistry. I knew from the beginning that it really needed chemistry of the whole group and I was really careful in that sense.

Where did you come up with the idea? Did you want to explore what people would be like under a specific set of circumstances or did you have the image of the UFO in your head from the beginning?

I just wanted to focus on the character not being the guy who saves the world. That’s what most of these movies focus on, the guy who is really useful and saves the day. Instead of focussing on that character I wanted to focus on all of the other people. The ones who aren’t so useful. Instead of talking about the hero, I wanted to talk about us. I’m pretty sure if the aliens come most of the people are just going to wait around for things to get better. I’m pretty sure that all of the reactions I would have would be the opposite of useful. We always see horrible tragedies on TV and instead of diving in we’re making jokes or commenting on the internet. So I wanted to make a joke about ourselves, the 99% (laughs).

I think that’s what makes the movie so relatable. All of the drama these people had in their lives beforehand, it’s still playing out. The character of Angel isn’t snapped out of his day to day drama at all.

I really like to respect characters. I don’t want to judge them or treat them as devices in a plot. I wanted to give all of them a chance to be really nasty on screen. To be liars. But all of them also have to change to show their weakness. I just wanted to give each one of the characters the same chance to be lovely and hateful. If you have a bad toothache before the aliens invade, you still have a bad toothache after. If you’re really in love with a girl before the end of the world, you’re still in love with her after. So he is still pursuing her. Some of the characters do nasty things, but none of them are evil.

I assume this film was shot on a fairly low budget, but it seems like you got everything you needed.

Too often on low budget films you see people committing the mistake of writing the script without keeping the size of the project in mind. And then they think that they can use production tricks later to shoot a movie that they wrote at a bigger budget. That’s a mistake. You have to really focus on the size of the film. I just wanted to make a movie that used all of the limitations as part of the natural charm of the movie. For example, from the flat they are not able to see the whole spaceship. But we stay so close to the characters’ point of view that when they aren’t able to see the whole spaceship, we make the joke about them drawing the rest of it. I wanted to take advantage of all the limitations and make a small movie that never felt cheap.

What’s your next film Windows like?

It’s a bigger film. It’s my first film with an average budget. It’s a twist on Hitchcock’s Rear Window, but it’s my first movie that won’t feel contained. It’s going to be an action film, it’s a thriller with a lot of action sequences.

What’s your ABC’s Of Death short like?

That’s just something I’m excited for you to see for yourself!



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