Director Sergio G Sánchez talks shooting in Spain, the modern audience, and the future of his fresh, young cast
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The National Student had the opportunity to chat with writer/director Sergio G. Sánchez about his upcoming gothic horror film The Secret of Marrowbone. Featuring a fresh young cast, including George MacKay, Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, Matthew Stagg and Anya Taylor-Joy, the film follows a family of four siblings as they hide the truth of their mother’s death in order to avoid separation. When speaking to TNS, writer and first-time director Sergio G. Sánchez discussed the unique nature of his film. “Aesthetically, [the film] feels like something from another time. I tried to shoot it as if it was actually shot in the sixties. Narratively and structurally, it’s very complex.” The film’s story appears to be the product of various influences in Sánchez’s life, both early and current. Summarising the muse of Marrowbone, the director spoke of how it was based on "the slow realisation that, in the world we live in, it’s becoming more and more difficult to discern what’s real and what’s not" and how "we have to decide, of everything we are exposed to, what it is that we believe to be true." From this main theme, Sánchez built a gothic horror storyline; a genre which has been of great inspiration to the writer/director from a young age. Reminiscing on his childhood years, Sánchez explained how he was a "very sensible kid" who was "always scared" and, because of that, was forbidden to watch any horror movies during his childhood. Naturally, curiosity kicked in, making horror and gothic literature an area of great interest to him. These interests are clearly reflected in not only Marrowbone, but also Sánchez’s previous writings, in particular The Orphanage (2007), and it was the success of these films that gave him the chance to direct his first feature. With this new agency over his script, Sánchez attributes much of the film’s tone and style to his "strange background"; one in which his childhood years were spent living in Asturias, Spain before moving to America at the age of sixteen. “My childhood memories took place in Spain and then my adolescent years happened in the US. My personality has been shaped in between those two different worlds.” Continuing, Sánchez explains: “You want your first film to be as personal as possible. I thought it would be an interesting idea to shoot in the landscape of my youth, the story, and world of my adolescence.” And with that Sánchez took the cast and crew out to his homeland of Asturias to start shooting The Secret of Marrowbone. This shooting experience, according to Sánchez, mirrored the story in the film. “In the movie, George, Mia, Charlie, and Matthew are playing this family that are living in a world they don’t know and where they must hide, and when the actors got to Asturias it was pretty much the same thing." This not only heightened the authenticity of the film, but also enriched the filmmaking experience for all involved in terms of enjoyment as they explored the film’s sets. “[The actors] all stayed in a hotel together and when they saw the house for the first time, I remember Charlie Heaton asked, ‘can’t we live here?’.” The experience of filming in a foreign location and sharing a hotel meant that the cast developed a "wonderful friendship" with Sánchez claiming: “they became inseparable from the start and it made things very easy for me.” Sánchez himself clearly formed a great relationship with the actors, too, as he speaks very fondly of their time on set together and couldn’t praise their ability enough. “They’re all going to have such amazing careers, when I look back in ten years I’m not going to believe how lucky I was to get them all together in my first movie.” The director even said that that working with the young actors was "the best thing about making this film." However, at the same time, he explains that it was also his biggest challenge. This was due to the cast’s varying acting methods. “George [MacKay] is the one who has more training. He is very disciplined and technical and aware of his body language.” “Charlie [Heaton] is very intuitive. He just needs to know everything about his character and then lets himself go.” “Mia [Goth] works from a different place, she becomes the character. When you shoot with her it’s chilling to watch because it feels like she is suddenly possessed by the character and she doesn’t leave the character until ten seconds after you yell cut.”
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