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Brand New Interview With The Silent House Director Gustav Hernandez
By James Whittington, Sunday 24th July 2011

Gustavo HernandezAudaciously filmed as one continuous tracking shot, The Silent House is at once a love letter to cult horrors from the annals of cinema history and a daring experiment that delivers its scares in a truly unique way. It's coming to DVD on August 1st so we chatted to director Gustav Hernandez about the inspiration for the movie and his plans for the future.

HC: Have you always been a fan of horror movies?

GH: No, although I have watched horror films at different stages in my life. I must say that in my childhood (and even as a teenager) I had a really hard time watching horror films. When I grew older and became a bit braver, I started enjoying the genre.

HC: Where did the idea from The Silent House come from? Is it really based on a true story?

GH: It's true. It’s based on a crime story at the end of the 40s in a small village in Uruguay. It’s a simple and unresolved series of events where two mutilated bodies were found along with a series of disturbing photographs.

HC: This was such a bold project for your first feature film, how nervous were you when you arrived on set?

GH: A little, yes. We shot with a group of friends and I don’t think any of us anticipated how difficult the challenge was going to be. We did plan everything carefully but when we got there and started shooting, everything became impossible. We had fantasised about certain positions and movements and we realised that we had to be more realistic. We only had 8000 USD to make the film and 4 days to shoot, so I started to design new choreographies with Pedro Luque. There were two or three days were the team was knackered because we had to start all over again. Trial and error helped us a lot, but the actors ended up hating us. Florencia was in tears at the end of every day and I really thought she was going to quit.

HC: How did you go about casting the movie?

GH: I did it with Gustavo Rojo (producer). We knew we needed a solid lead actress to carry the movie. We looked at 60 actresses to begin with, then shortlisted 30, 15 and finally 5. At that stage we did improvisation tests and Florencia was not the best one. But when we went over the tapes, we saw nuances and little things that seemed particularly suited to the character. We’re very happy with our choice. All the actors have a background in theatre and had no experience in film, so I liked the idea of a group debut for this film.

HC: What was the atmosphere like?

GH: Good at the beginning, then a bit worse and finally bitter and confusing. The thought of causing so much frustration among the whole team kept me awake at night. Very strange things were happening on the set. Some technicians would not go upstairs because some paintings kept falling off the walls and a lot of doors were closing by themselves. I was too busy trying to solve all sorts of problems to see any of that.

HC: So is the film all from Take 1 or is it from a later attempt?

GH: I think it’s the second last take of the last day.

HC: Are there any mistakes we should look out for?

GH: A lot. One in particular can be found on the DVD –a member of the team reflected in a mirror. I chose not to edit it out in post-production, so it will be there forever.

HC: If you were to remake the movie (in a conventional manner) would you change anything? (without giving any plot away).

GH: I would never make it in a conventional manner. This project was born and conceived to be experimental. It’s not perfect, it has mistakes, but also interesting elements.

HC: Would you do this again with a different movie genre?

GH: No.

HC: What projects are you working on at the moment?

GH: We’re now in the writing stage of a new project we’re very happy with. It’s called The Funeral of Elbert Kurman and it’s just as challenging as The Silent House, though very different from a narrative point of view. We’re really excited about the ideas we’re having both for the look of the film and its structure. It’s a tribute to the horror genre unlike anything that has been done so far.

HC: Gustav Hernandez, thank you very much.


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