This artsy, often dreamscape-y narrative feature is about a Spanish man in Santa Monica who becomes obsessed with finding a woman from a random photograph, meanwhile connecting with his dead grandfather and missing the amarous opportunites before his eyes. The film cuilminates at Santa Barbara County’s own Zaca Lake, a magical place both on-screen and off.
Were parts of this story inspired by real life, like a grandfather’s memory or lost/unrequited love?
Alex’s granddad somehow overlaps my own memories of my granddad Luis. He used to shoot Super 8mm films and he was the first person ever who showed me a camera, a can of film, and the small 8mm moviola he had. If there’s somebody we can blame for my passion, it is “el abuelo Luis.”
There is ample use of filters in the filming. What do you hope the different color hues imply?
I wanted Violet to look amateurish, like an old 16mm home film from the ‘70s. I tried really hard to get rid of my fussy perfectionist mind searching for as many “‘imprecise decisions” and “visual mistakes” as possible. I believe that those intentional inaccuracies, the lenses we chose, the color hues, and the way the film is shot, give it a sense of spontaneity and proximity. A feeling of “this can happen to you, fella.”
Zaca Lake is a magical place. How did you stumble upon it, especially as a Spanish filmmaker?
Violet is a spiritual journey and we needed a spiritual magical place to finish it, not just a random cool lake. We searched for the right place all over the state of California until finally the producer Dario Troiani found Zaca Lake; we read about its history and we almost cried. We drove to Zaca Lake to see it with our own eyes; we kayaked to the platform and there we experienced the incredible energy that comes from its bottom. We knew right away that we had to finish our film there.
Are these well-known Spanish actors? They are great. Where did you find them?
Thank you! Indeed, they are well known in Spain. I shot my first short film with Junio Valverde when he was only 10 years old and since then I’ve been writing characters for him to play. He is a natural source of truth on screen. We made another short together when he was 15, and Violet was conceived for him from scratch.
Leticia Dolera is in my opinion the most magical and talented actress that we have in Spain. She is a nymph. She starred in the film [REC·3] that I wrote and where I had the privilege of shooting the 2nd unit; during the shooting I was able to see how she works first hand and when I started to write Violet I only had eyes for her (eyes).
Are Spanish crowds happy to see Spanish films set and filmed in the United States? Is there a long tradition of that, or are you breaking new ground?
I do not believe we are breaking new ground but adding our experience to a long tradition of Spaniards shooting Spanish films in the U.S., from José Luis Borau to Fernando Trueba or Emilio Aragón lately. Dario and I love our Spanish film industry and we wanted to support it by shooting Violet in Spanish and by recruiting as many Spaniards who work in L.A. as possible. That has been very well received in our homeland. And besides that, who doesn’t want to see California on the big screen?? You gotta love this place!
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