Director and screenwriter, Andres Koppel, has spent most of his film and television career as a writer. But 2017 saw him make his feature directorial debut with Mist and the Maiden. Koppel kindly chatted to Glam, from Spain, about the film, his career, and the Spanish screen industry. We wondered what drove him into this most crazy of industries:
I was kind of a weird teenager…I decided to read everything that was at my home. I read hundreds and hundreds of novels, and I started to imagine those stories, and visualize those stories, and that gave me the tools and the passion to tell stories. Later on, I found I wasn’t very good at writing literature, and I started to look for another way to tell those stories…and film-making came across!
It’s a wonderful thing to tell stories; it’s one of the most beautiful jobs.
So how did he make the, often impossible, leap from writer to director?
To being with I was only the screenwriter of the movie: I wasn’t considered as a director.
Usually when I am hired to write a screenplay there is already a director attached and I write it in the style that I know that they want to direct. With this film there was no director attached so I wrote it as if the director was me. And when I showed it to the producers they said “Do you want to direct it? Because it shows that you have a movie in your head.” And I said “Sure!” It really was that simple
Shown this year in Australia as part of the Spanish Film Festival, Mist and the Maiden is a crime thriller set on the tiny Canary Island of La Gomera. The story is based on the novel by Lorenzo Silva, one of Spain’s most popular thriller writers, who was reportedly very happy with the finished feature. Two detectives, Bevilaqua and Chamorro (Silva’s main characters) are sent from the mainland to La Gomera, to reopen a three-year-old murder case, which the local police believe solved. On a rugged, isolated island of only 20, 000 people, the detectives find secrets, lies and cover-ups, in a narrative which goes from standard police-procedural, to darker psychological thriller.
Spanish films are unmistakably Spanish. What does Koppel think gives these films there special feel? And is there anything particular about the way the Spanish film industry is organized, that feeds this individuality
We are the only country in the world that doesn’t have a mythology as such. And I think that makes us grounded but at the same time looking for a way to escape our reality.
We are a film industry that takes money mainly from television. Television has an obligation to put money into film-making, therefore [television executives] have a lot of power in how films are run. So we have an industry that’s geared towards a more commercial line of movies. We try to do more comedies; more thrillers. So I think we are a little apart from the rest of Europe.
Koppel is currently hunting for his second feature project as director, as well as writing a television series. For this most hard-working of film-makers, it seems that the blue Spanish sky is the limit!
Mist and Maiden screened as part of the 21st Spanish Film Festival. Look for it on general cinema release and home-viewing.