in issue #17 (February 2005) we published a short story entitled
“El Jugador y el Diablo” by a new writer by the name
of Pyro. It was about a compulsive gambler who makes a bet with
the Devil to save his own hide from those he owes. The story was
received very well by our readers and about a month or two later
we got an email from Ulises Gonzalez Almanza, a Communications student
in his senior year at the Liceo School for Superior Studies in Querétaro.
Ulises was interested in adapting the story as a short film for
his senior project. We got Ulises in touch with the laid-back Pyro,
who gave Ulises permission to adapt his story. And within two months
we had magic on the screen...
La Jerga: To begin, who found the story?
Ulises González: Just by chance I found
La Jerga at school, and began reading it, I really liked the story
and I saved it, because I said, “One day if I have the opportunity
to adapt a work, I’d like to portray this story.” And
luckily it turns out that we had to make a short. I ran it by everyone
I met and they all agreed, so...
LJ: Have you ever made a short film before or is
this your first work?
UG: Yes, it’s the first film that I’ve
made. I really enjoyed it. I learned so much about how difficult
it can be to make a production like this, even though it was just
a little short. I enjoyed it and I plan on remaining active, gaining
more experience and working to see what comes out.
LJ: So you plan to continue working in film?
UG: Yes, I like it a lot. I would like to study
film, but right now I want to see what’s up with my career
without abandoning the film.
LJ: What aspect of filmmaking do you enjoy the
UG: Direction, although I also enjoy writing, but
right now we found ourselves with this story and we made some very
small changes, only to adapt it for the screen.
LJ: Did you take some liberties? Because I don’t
recall there being much description about the Devil’s appearance.
UG: Yeah, that was a bit problematic. Partly because
of our budget, which was really smalltime, it was a bit difficult
to pull off horns and such. The story is actually very funny, and
we didn’t want to do something that looked cheesy, so we opted
instead for something a bit more subtle, such as the eyes, something
a little out of the ordinary. Also, the guy that acted like the
Devil (Luis Rabell), he’s a buddy of mine that has done theater
for many years and he also gave us some tips, “hey maybe we
can dress the Devil this way.” We practically gave him the
liberty to dress himself, we only gave him a few things and he basically
designed his character, based on the story, of course.
LJ: How many days did you spend in produciton?
UG: It was two days of taping, but we did quite
a bit of casting, then taping, then editing and laying down the
music...It was a period of about a month, month and a half.
LJ: What type of camera did you use?
UG: We taped with a Canon XL1 Mini DV and we did
the editing in Final Cut.
LJ: The version we saw, was it the final cut or
are you still going to tweak it?
UG: We’re going to modify certain things
in terms of the credits, because this was a version for ourselves,
but we do plan on changing certain things.
LJ: And were the actors professionals?
UG: Some were professionals from the theater here
in Querétaro: the Devil and the Nurse (Alejandra Segovia).
The Gambler (Ulises Santamaría), is an old friend of mine
who is also into film and I asked him “are you up for it?”
We were also working with a woman in casting, who plays the part
of the Hebral Doctor (Karina Martínez), who’s also
done theater productions here.
LJ: Do you plan on entering into competition in
UG: Hopefully, believe me it’s what I would
like, let’s see what happens.
We wish Ulises and his crew the best of luck with their short, “Doble
o Nada”, and expect to see them in competition next year at
Expresión en Corto.