Fauna is another Mexican film that hits theaters in 2022. It is a proposal with an unconventional narrative that addresses how drug culture impacts Mexican society. It does so through a fiction in which its characters represent those constructions and idealizations that are made about drug trafficking that show series like Narcos Mexico, from Netflix.
In an intelligent and original way, the director Nicolás Pereda and his cast build a story in which they carry out a representation of the collateral effects that drug traffickers have that are created for audiovisual content, being the main havoc the development of fictions that at some given moment are assumed as realities.
But, how to mold or create a film that goes beyond the traditional narrative margin to give a twist to the theme of violence and how to transfer it to the cinema? What value does acting have as a creation in a plot that takes place in the present tense? To try to find these answers, we talked in Spoiler with Nicolás Pereda and the actor Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez.
Interview with Nicolás Pereda and Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez
Nicolás, how much work did you dedicate to the writing process of the script and how much value did you give to the editing?
The way I put together the scripts has less to do with the causal relationships of the scenes in the sense that I do not write with the traditional narrative, that is, the rule of beginning, middle and end with cause and effect. What interests me are the moments of the present, what you are seeing at the moment and that the scenes of that moment have strength.
Afterwards, the connection of those scenes does not respond to the logic of “because this happened, now this other thing has to happen”, but I like that they have an echo and new relationships arise. This generates a type of film in which a viewer cannot follow a conflict or a plot from beginning to end, but rather a story of different relationships between its scenes.
The cinema has the peculiarity that the spectators enter the room with great expectations about how the cinema is made and what they are going to receive. There is a feeling that you already know how to make a film in the traditional language and you are only expecting precisely what you know, but when a director like me structures a film in another way, it is evident that many things are missing. And yes, that is obvious. The construction of characters is missing, or the idea of a moral at the end of the film. But they are things that did not interest me at the beginning because that is not my proposal.
In the montage, what I prioritize is finding the echoes that I mentioned. I shoot multiple long shots, so I don’t do much editing within the scenes. First I review all the scenes we filmed, then I remove the ones I didn’t like and when I have all the ones I like I go looking for where to put them in relation to intuitive things and those that echo each other. For example, Francisco Barreiro’s scene in which he is humiliated by his father-in-law asking him to say the entire text of Narcos is attached to the scene of Luisa Pardo and Teresa Sánchez rehearsing. These are scenes that were much more divided in the script, but in the editing process they found an echo that made me bring them closer.
Lázaro, in the film we see characters that have no past and do not move towards a future, but rather act in the present. How easy or difficult is it for you as a creator to work with a director like Nicolás in the sense that his proposal is out of the ordinary?
For me, Francisco Barreiro, Luisa Pardo and Teresa Sánchez, it’s not about the character in this film. We think of him as the character in all the movies we’ve made with Nicolás. He’s like he’s the same character that somehow resembles who we are in real life and how that character develops in different movies.
While I agree that the character doesn’t have a very clear past in this movie, for me he does have a past in relation to the previous movies we’ve done. It’s as if the character’s past is built on other books. For example, Sherlock Holmes. If you read a Sherlock Holmes book, you’re just reading a book and you learn a few things, like his relationship with Watson. But if you read several books in the saga, you build a deeper idea of the character and you read what is new, taking into account that you already know what happened to him before.
We almost always keep the links. Sometimes Luisa Pardo is my sister, sometimes she is my girlfriend, Paco is usually my friend and I am usually Teresa’s son. There is a certain continuity in the way we develop our characters in Nicolás’s films.
Nicolás, the fictions and stories that he throws Fauna they are linked to a representation that you give to the way in which we have absorbed the phenomenon of the series about drug traffickers. Why did you want to address this topic?
When I was writing the script, I was very interested in the imaginary we have about what drug traffickers are like and how that imaginary has been built not only from the series, but also from movies, plays and music. It is an entire industry of drug trafficking representation that tends to reduce the complexity of its universe.
In this film, the idea was not to say what drug trafficking really is, which means something very complex and I don’t consider that to be the function of cinema. The purpose was rather to reflect a little on that representation that is very limited and a bit cartoonish. Fauna does not give a very specific explanation about the way in which our observation of this phenomenon is approached. The idea is in several scenes and hopefully there are viewers who read that intention apart from having a better understanding of the problem. Even better is if they can read more things that I don’t detect in the film. There is enough ambiguity to give different readings to the representation of drug culture.
Lázaro, something that you as actors transmit is freedom. You feel that freedom in the development of their characters. How much opportunity did they have as creators to propose and solve in Fauna?
The part that seemed the strongest to me in the film was the shooting. Although there is always a script and it always becomes a montage, filming is the part of the process where it is defined where it is going to go because in truth there is a lot of reality that things go down a path that is not premeditated.
Normally in the cinema, for obvious budget reasons, it is very difficult to get out of the plan. I feel that part of what Nicolás proposes is that we somehow get lost along the way so that we as actors propose things and he guides us on what works or doesn’t work. There is always a willingness to propose in case something occurs to you.
A problem for me, in my experience, has been that when I say an idea I am afraid of being told that it is very bad, that is something very hard. It is hard to say “let’s do this” because there is a kind of modesty and fear of failure. So once this climate is established with the understanding that we are going to release ideas and nothing happens if some are rejected, it opens up the terrain of freedom within the shoot, which as an actor is unusual.
Nicolás, the scene in the bar in which they tell Paco “let’s see, do it” is extraordinary, it provokes laughter in the viewer. Much has to do with the interpretation of Francisco Barreiro. How was the experience of directing that particular scene for you?
Perhaps it was the scene with more tension during the filming. It was also the longest scene in the movie. And I have to say that it was much more extensive than it looks. In the end, it was a job that for me meant the experience of seeing a work in itself.
In the scene there was a special relationship with the biography of the actor, of Paco, because he actually acts in the series of narcs and had no dialogue in the first season. Here his life goes beyond the movie. For all of us who witnessed the scene there was tension because we had never seen Paco do it, that is, we had not rehearsed it. He didn’t even show it to me off camera. We did it once and it stayed. I usually repeat the scenes a lot, but here there was no need to do it. He came out first.