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17th ÉCU
The European Independent Film Festival 2022 

8th - 10th April 2022 
Interview

Raquel Guerrero 
Useless 

Section: European Dramatic Short
ecufilmfestival.com
Spanish Version

Tito, a neighbourhood boy that everyone is always teasing, wants to prove his worth. He’s already been through several initiation tests, and he is now doing car donuts in a vacant lot around his neighbourhood with his new “friends” after pulling an all-nighter. They are all having fun, playing music and taking drugs, but then a comment from Tito turns the party into a macabre joke. His friends force him to commit a robbery to complete the initiation ritual.

 

Hey Raquel, thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?

 

The truth is that fortunately for me this time has been a stage of isolation that I needed to be able to focus on various creative projects, so I have taken advantage of the situation during confinement to develop them and then, despite the strangeness of the situation, thanks to these projects, mentally I have been able to get through this time with strength.

 

Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration or opportunities?

 

Definitely yes. Before the Pandemic I started with the script for a movie that I wrote during confinement. This exercise of being so highly focused on a project, without interference, has given me many joys, including being able to win an international script competition that has opened the doors of production companies that are now evaluating the possibility of producing my film. I have also written at this time the short film "Useless", which is presented at the European independent film festival ÉCU.

 

Congratulations on having Useless, which is your debut short film as writer/director, part of the 17th ÉCU Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be screening your film in Paris?

 

For me it is a dream and it is the possibility of making my project known internationally. It is a very important door and I am extremely grateful. I always thought that my film could be of interest in countries like France, perhaps because of the theme. I think it is something recognisable within their society. Also, that it is an independent film festival fills me with pride. I want to belong to that way of making movies and telling stories and being selected at a festival like this guides me to continue investigating as a filmmaker where I have done it.

 

In 2021 you Won the International Screenplay Contest Filmarket Hub for your screenplay for “Zoe”, did you imagine you would get this type of reaction to your film?

 

Well, I always believed in this script, but the truth is that it has been a surprise for me to win this award and feel the interest it has generated in the production companies. I suppose it will be a long road, but I am convinced that this film will see the light of day sooner or later. I believe in it a lot.

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"The best lesson I have learned is that you have to do things with passion and if not, it is better to leave that project for another time and that the actors are one of the most important pieces of a film."

Can you tell me how Useless, came about, what was the inspiration behind this film and what was the message you wanted to convey with it?

 

Well actually the idea came from a street anecdote by Alberto Raw, one of the protagonists of the short film. From that anecdote I wanted to talk about something that is recurrent in what I write, which is the fear of abandonment. In this case I was interested in talking about social abandonment and the limits between having a more or less promising future or a marginal future and proposing a reflection on what we are as a society, who is responsible for these limits and what we are failing at.

 

When working on Useless how flexible did you allow yourself with the screenplay once you started filming, did you prefer to stick to what you had planned to shoot?

 

My filmmaker friend Jorge Calatayud told me during the pre-production process: A film is the one you write, another one you shoot and another one you edit... And he couldn't be more right. I came to the set with the intention of shooting what I had written, but in the end things always come up and you have to adapt, so I adapted. Later, during the editing, I continued to create together with the editor Leixandre Froufe with all the material we had and the truth is that it has changed a lot but it still has the same meaning.

 

What has been the biggest challenge you've faced bringing Useless to life and looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

 

Making "Useless" has been a global challenge for me. It was my first short film as a screenwriter, director and producer. It has been a personal challenge at all levels and an enormous learning experience. I wouldn't change anything I've done. It seems to me that the trip has been and is being perfect because I continue to learn along the way. Of course, if I put myself on a technical plan, I would change something, but not much really. I am very happy with the result.

 

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

 

I have always liked the cinema but my creative beginnings were developed in the theatre. It has been after 17 years of artistic career as an actress when I have decided to take the first steps in audiovisual language as a creative. For me it encompasses everything and is where I can express myself on more levels. I hope to continue investigating its possibilities. My great references are the cinema of the Dardenne Brothers and Nordic cinema.

 

How has your background as an actress helped in your filmmaking journey and what would you say has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Useless?

 

Clearly, my experience as an actress has helped me intuitively launch myself into directing my first short film. All the baggage behind me and what I have learned from others during these years has helped me to take the leap and try to capture my feelings and my artistic vision of history. Without a doubt, being an actress has helped me a lot in the selection of the actors in "Useless" and in directing them, because I know what it's like to be on the other side. The best lesson I have learned is that you have to do things with passion and if not, it is better to leave that project for another time and that the actors are one of the most important pieces of a film.

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For anyone out there thinking about getting into filmmaking do you have any tips or advice you would offer them? 

 

Well, I'm starting to make movies and I'm very happy to have taken the step, so I encourage everyone who wants to and doesn't dare, to do so. But always with passion and love for what he is doing, with perseverance and tenacity. With demand towards the story that you want to tell to tell it in the best possible way.

 

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

 

That the public enjoy seeing this little piece, that the tension be with them until the end and that they reflect on what lies behind the story. I would also like the younger ones to see themselves reflected and to make them reflect on their own ways of acting in life.