15th ÉCU Film Festival | 2020 
"As a first time director, I was also afraid not to have the trust of the cast, which could feel very exposed during the shooting of these scenes."
Paco Ruiz
 Three Times 
European Dramatic Short
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Mario is at home alone. His parents are gone and it will take them a while to return. Enough time for their son to arrange a sex date on the Internet with a total stranger.

Hi Paco thank you for talking to TNC, how are you handling the lockdown?

I'm doing well. Don't forget that I regularly work as a postproduction operator: isolation and social distancing is a way of life for me. 

As a filmmaker is this experience providing you with some creative motivations?

To describe the lock down as "inspiring" is a way of playing it down or romanticize it. And I don't agree with that. Of course I try to keep my self busy, and writing is always helpful for that. But quarantine is also a good chance to have a look to the creativities of others: listen to music, watch movies, waste hours looking at pictures on the internet. 

Your film Three Times has been selected for the 2020 ÉCU Film Festival in Paris, what has it meant to you to be part of this unique film festival for independent filmmakers?

Our film is not an easy one: it is provocative and risky. So we were very glad to have the support of a huge festival. This was also our first international selection, so you can imagine how excited we were when we received their call.

Three Times is also your debut film as a director, how much did you background as a music video director prepare you for making your first short film? What has the experience been like for you making Three Times?

Shooting this film has been so different to anything I've done before, I can't say that any of my former experience prepared me for this. I've done all my previous works (music videos, VJ loops, video art) with a very low budget and a reduced crew. On 'Three times' there were more than 30 professionals working on set and a powerful production team coordinating the whole thing. Their knowledge and support made me feel confident and ready to direct.

Can you tell me a little bit about Three Times, how did this film come about?

I knew Roberto Butragueño three years ago, when he hired me as an postproduction operator for his digital cinema lab, where I still work. Roberto has produced films for spanish directors like Ramón Salazar o Fernando Franco. At some point, I thought to myself: "if you write something good, maybe you could convince him to get involved".

What was the inspiration behind this screenplay?

I can't recall a particular inspiration for "Three times", sometimes it is difficult to remember who and why some ideas come to your mind. I took a few days off because I wanted to arrange some notes that I have written for another story, something completely different. After a few days, I had done nothing useful, but an idea for another story had come to my mind: a visitor that doesn't want to leave. I've always liked movies based on the idea of a visitor, like Pasolini's "Teorema" or Arofnofsky's "Mother!", for instance. I guess the idea of a visitor took me to a topic I found very interesting: sex dates arranged on the internet.

There is also a constant topic on the background of "Three times": Europe. I've been living abroad for years and surrounded by a foreign community.  Back in Spain, I wanted to discuss on this film some of my experiences and my feelings about it.

What was the most challenges scene for you to film? 

During the preparation of "Three times" I was specially concerned about the sex scenes. The mise-en-scène was quite clear for me from the very first moment and it was coherent with the rest of the film: sobriety and coldness. But the risk of doing something evident or obscene was always on my mind. As a first time director, I was also afraid not to have the trust of the cast, which could feel very exposed during the shooting of these scenes. On rehearsals, we talked openly about it and we found a point where we all could feel comfortable and safe. Today, I can say I feel totally satisfied and thankful with the work of both cast and crew during these scenes.

What made you want your debut short films to have such a unique LGBT theme?

Things get easier if you talk about yourself, your world or your community on your own screenplay. At least, it works for me and it helps me to fill the story with details that I find useful. I am a gay man, so for me it was natural to shoot a LGTBIQ+ themed short film. 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

No, not always: sometimes passion can be followed by pity and frustration. I actually find it very common. During some moments of my life I've wanted to give up filmmaking or any other creative work. But somehow I've always come back to be passionate about it. I am lucky for that.

What has been the best piece of advice you have been given when you started out?

When we started preparing "Three times", I asked Roberto Butragueño, executive producer, for advice. How should I behave as a director? What was expected from me? He was brief and honest on his answer. He told me to be myself.

What are you currently working on?

There's something new, but it is still very early to talk about it. "Three times" just came out and now we only want to see how far can we get with this film.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Three Times?

I am not sure but, after watching "Three times", a friend of mine said: "I'm not gonna date anyone anymore". And I found that hilarious.

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