EXCL: Juan Carlos Fresnadillo Interview


Director talks 28 Weeks Later

Between 2001’s Intacto and this year’s sequel 28 Weeks Later, you would think Juan Carlos Fresnadillo has a fascination with all things communicable. His former effort and feature debut realizes “luck” as a corporeal characteristic – something to be transferred, coveted and bargained for. Those who survive testicle-shriveling scenarios such as a plane crash or a bull fight carry a certain degree of power for their good fortune in Intacto‘s world. Now the Spanish filmmaker who also garnered acclaim for his Academy Award-nominated short film Esposados is experimenting with a far more deadly infection where survival has more to do with wits, courage and a fast pair of legs than luck itself.

The title 28 Weeks Later explains it all, really. In this latest chapter of the “28 Days Later” saga, England is recuperating from the spread of the rage virus with the help of the United States. As relief workers repopulate London, a new outbreak occurs forcing a father (Robert Carlyle), his two children (Imogen Poots, Mackintosh Muggleton) and a handful of others to find a way off of this diseased land.

Danny Boyle – director of 28 Days Later – found a fitting successor to his film in Fresnadillo after watching Intacto. “When I received the invitation, to be honest, I was shocked,” Fresnadillo admits during an exclusive interview with Shock. “I’m not from London. I didn’t know London very well and English isn’t my first language. To know London very well is a big thing for this story. It becomes a big character.” Despite his unfamiliarity with the city, the first film’s visions of urban desolation nevertheless left a lasting impression on the director. “Danny made a benchmark in that film because of the sense of reality and the power of the images – like the man walking around an empty London. I think everyone has this kind of nightmare – you wake up in the middle of the night or morning to discover your city is empty, your friends and family are gone. Because of Danny’s texture and video treatment of the film you can feel a lot about the characters and the story.”

“With this they were trying to make a different movie from the first one, an independent movie, something fresh eyes,” he continues. Fresnadillo accepted the job, rewriting Rowan Joffe’s initial script with Esposados‘ Jesús Olmo and Intacto executive producer/”Weeks” producer Enrique Lopez Lavigne. The film was shot in England in 2006 with 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland and Boyle executive producing. The latter dabbled in some 2nd unit direction. “In a story of repopulation, rebuilding and a new beginning, the honest way to tell this kind of story is through a realist approach.” So, Fresnadillo channeled his stance as a foreigner in the UK through the eyes of the film’s American soldiers (Jeremy Renner, Rose Byrne and Harold Perrineau) working on overseas soil as well as the native Londoners returning to a home that no longer feels like their own.

“That connection with new people going to England is something that I felt very connected with,” he says. “Under those conditions it was easier for me. I played it as a bit of a mental game because I decided to make my position in this film as a journalist going to London and trying to make a documentary about the repopulation of the city and the first outbreak. When you’re sitting in the screening room I want you to think, ‘My God, this is happening and we’re being invaded by this infection.’ It should ring a bell in the audience about our time and the world we’re living in.”

Where 28 Days Later begot familiar images from the 9/11 attacks, it’s hard to ignore the allusions to New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina found in 28 Weeks Later‘s early scenes of a community on the mend. But Fresnadillo says his focus was merely to “report,” so to speak, and allow the viewer to find their own “mirror of the real world. That’s why audiences are making a connection with the events that are happening now. My only position is to show you exactly what’s happening in the world of the story. People will always find things in the stuff you’re making. I obviously wanted to make an entertaining film, an action film, but connect it with our time.”

Even the rage virus has morphed with the times, paralleling the real fears of the headline-grabbing Bird Flu virus and its unpredictable possibilities. “There is a big difference [with the virus] in this one, it has now mutated and is smarter and stronger than the first time. It has a new face, a terrible face. Here we’re showing the infected up close really close. The camera is right there in their face. In my position as a filmmaker, I needed to feel the danger and the madness of the infected. Almost show the audience the point of view of these crazed people. I love the concept of this story and its take on rage. What is rage? It’s a human feeling. We’re surrounded by it. The disease is a clear reflection of our world and it’s important to show that. It’s a good thing to realize what kind of world we’re living in.”

28 Weeks Later contaminates theaters nationwide May 11th.

Source: Ryan Rotten