This is a subtly complex film, in that it's hard to tell what's "real" and what's "deliberate", but one could argue the same thing about many facets in our lives today as technology is now melded into our every waking moment. What I love about this piece is Juan's level of "astute naivety"; he has no idea what he's doing, there is no grand plan, but he's chosen a method and has an intention, and in life that's often all one really needs.
It was great to get in touch with the wonderful David Gutiérrez Camps for a little digital chat on this film. Enjoy!
Miriam Lee: Where did the inspiration for this film come from?
David Gutiérrez Camps: When I started thinking about the film, I had just moved back to Barcelona from New York City, so I felt a little like the character, like Juan Bushwick. I felt a little bit like a bored American in Barcelona, although this is where I'm from. Besides, I wanted to find an idea for a film that could fit many narrative and aesthetic experiments I had interest in carrying on.
ML: What scared you the most about this project?
DGC: I guess what scares me the most while making a film is not making a good film.
ML: How did you meet your star Barry Paulson?
DGC: Two different people told me about him, that he was the man I was looking for. And they were right.
DGC: I tend to say Juan Bushwick is 25% myself, 25% Barry Paulson and 50% fiction. The character's situation is similar to the one I was living when shooting the film, but the whole plot about believing that filming your life can lead to finding some kind of peace, is completely fiction. It should be noted, though, that there is a constant game of truths and lies in the film; there is documentary footage manipulated as fiction, and a lot of fiction that can be read as real. For example, the actor sometimes recorded himself with his phone adapting the parameters of the character to his real life. Then he gave me that footage and I edited it into the film. In many occasions, this forced me to rewrite the script we were working with.
ML: What was it like to have Cristina Nuñez in the film? She's incredible!
DGC: I knew Cristina while making the film and she ended up being a really important part of it. She plays a key role in the film. In a way, she is an example of success in terms finding some sort of peace through autobiographical art. And it's really important that Juan gets to know her because she is able to put Juan in front of a mirror and pulls a string inside him that lets the character (and the film) go in a different direction.
ML: I love the exercise Juan does with her where he has to do the silent scream while she photographs him.
He says he sees fear, but I saw tons more in that photo, including happiness in his eyes, interestingly enough.
DGC: The photos produced in Cristina's studio are very complex. They can be read in many different directions, but what matters the most is what the subject of the photo sees. It's an exercise about the self and the most important thing here is what we see in ourselves. In our case, we were playing with fire, because I wanted Barry Paulson to be Juan Bushwick when making the exercise, but he ended up being himself, which ended up being great, because the scene feels so real.
ML: What's made you the happiest to hear in terms of people's reactions?
DGC: The reaction has been great so far. I am really pleased with it. The film premiered at two big Spanish film festivals (Málaga and D'A in Barcelona) last April and has been shown in some others in Spain and Latin America. It just had a limited commercial release in some Spanish film theatres on February 20th. This premiere has made many critics write about it, and I've had a bunch of positive reviews. People tend to be very pleased with it aesthetically. I very much enjoy showing the film to audiences who are not used to "art film"; some of them have had very positive experiences.
ML: What's coming up next for you ?
DGC: The film is still being shown in some theatres across Spain. I would love more cities to ask me for a copy and be able to show it in more places. It also premiered last Friday in the main independent Spanish video on demand platform, called filmin.com. I wouldn't mind showing it in some other European and American cities.
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For more on the film. check out The Juan Bushwick Diaries website. My thanks again to David!