During the London Film Festival 2015, I had the fantastic opportunity to interview director Pablo Larraín about his new film The Club, a story about a house in which priests and a nun live, all of whom are suspected of crimes ranging from child abuse to baby snatching. Following an incident at the house, a crisis counsellor is sent to assess what has happened and find out more about those who live there.
Neel’s Reel Deel: Where did you come up with the idea for the film?
Pablo Larraín: A couple of years ago, I saw a picture in the newspaper of a house in Germany, just like this (The house in the film) There was this Chilean priest living there. I couldn’t believe there was a guy who was accused of sexual abuse and it started from there really. It’s about how they created something so dangerous.
NRD: Was it difficult to film or hard to watch after considering the content?
PL: No, not really
NRD: As this was co-written with yourself an others, how did you find the writing process?
PL: It was very strange because we wrote for the movie and also wrote whilst we were shooting, so we kept writing it all the way. It was very interesting because I collaborated with Guillermo Calderón and Daniel Villalobos and we are all Chileans but we were raised in different places so we had a different relationship with the characters. So I guess that really helped, it brought different perspectives to the issue.
NRD: That sounds really good, lots of ideas being brought to the table.
PL: Yeah it really was
NRD: How long did it take to shoot? You’ve had short shoots in the past, was this similar?
PL: Very short shooting time, two and a half weeks
NRD: Wow, very quick! How about the actors you brought on to play these roles?
PL: Well the actors are people I have been working with for many years and they are so articulate, people that I really trust and they trust me. So I never gave them a script at all, they didn’t know about their characters or the others, I would just give them a scene before we shot it so it was very interesting, we would end up doing some kind of process where the actors didn’t know what was going on and this was also kept the actors present for their acting. It gives an intriguing and mysterious performance.
NRD: To work with the same people must be an interesting experience, how long have you been working with these same people for?
PL: For five or six movies, it’s not always the exact same people but it’s people that I know, they are friends. So when I said to them “let’s make a movie”, I don’t going to tell them what it’s about! We’d go to the set, they have their make-up done and get in front of the camera, then I tell them what we’re doing so it creates an interesting moment, when you see someone who isn’t in control with what’s going on and helps.
NRD: They must have a lot of faith and trust in you.
PL: Yeah but also it creates an interesting affect and illusion, in the result in the film. You see a performance that looks controlled but it’s not.
NRD: When it comes to the religious aspects of the film, what’s your view on that? Are you a religious man yourself?
PL: No. not now. I think it’s always interesting to deal with religious aspects when you’re thinking about things like compassion, guilt, forgiveness.
NRD: It is a hard subject to approach, how did you approach it exactly? You say you’re not religious, so did you do quite a bit of research?
PL: I did research but I went to Catholic school so I knew things from there. So what I had been studying and the tone in the school, they are things that I understand and know, I digested them and I wanted to bring this to the screen.
NRD: When it comes to the reality of abuse claims within the Catholic church, what do you think of that?
PL: Well, what’s going on today is that we’re facing a new kind of victim, someone who is not scared to talk about it. Back in the day, you wouldn’t do it, you wouldn’t be respected, people would look at you weird after you admit you had been abused, today you respect those people, we want them to have their space, we appreciate that someone is able to accuse somebody of this so they never do it again. Today is a better environment to do that. What’s also interesting is the relationship that the church has with the media.
NRD: Is there anyone else you’d like to work with? As you always work with the same actors. who else would you want on your set?
PL: It always depends on the movie and if you can find the right people then I would want to work with them.
NRD: The right person for the right role
PL: Yeah I think so
NRD: Did you discover anything new about yourself with regards of directing when you made this film?
PL: Oh, I don’t know, that’s a good question! Probably, but it’s hard to understand
NRD: Well you might become a religious man, you never know!
PL: Who knows, man! Anything is possible.
The Club directed by Pablo Larraín is out in UK cinemas now and is also available to stream on BFI Player.
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