Sitges 2008: KING OF THE HILL Director Gonzalo Lopez Gallego Talks SOLO And A JEALOUS GHOST
It should come as no surprise to regular readers of this site that we are big believers in Spanish director Gonzalo Lopez Gallego. His film King of the Hill (El Rey De La Montana) is a great favorite and earlier today we had the chance to sit and talk with him about possible release plans for that film - not particularly good news, unfortunately - and what he's working on now. And Gallego is a busy man with two productions gearing up in North America and a third in Spain. Read on for the complete conversation!
TB: First of all, we've written a lot about King of the Hill, obviously, and people are waiting for the chance to see it. Do you know anything about the release plans?
GLG: I'm not getting any information about what they're planning to do. The only news I've got is what I've been able to find on the internet. I think they're going to release it in November, direct to DVD. That's just information I've been able to find at online stores.
TB: Earlier you mentioned to me that you're working on two different films right now.
GLG: I told you that?
TB: You did.
TB: One in Hollywood and one in Spain.
GLG: Ah, yes, yes.
TB: Are there more that you're not supposed to talk about?
GLG: Well, I'm working on a horror movie in Spain. We've been working on the script and I'm really excited about the project. It looks like a really good story, a strong horror movie. We're working hard on it and if everything goes great maybe I could shoot it at the end of next year or early in 2010. That would be something.
And then I'm also working on this movie, Solo, in Hollywood with Guy Danella and Gold Circle. I've been working on this project for four or five months already. We've been working on several versions of the script and the one we have now everybody is really happy with. Five weeks ago I started working on the storyboards. They're planning to start shooting on the 19th of January but that might be difficult. I don't know.
TB: Do you have any idea of cast for Solo at all?
GLG: No. I know that they've approached different actresses but they don't have a solid yes from anybody yet. I don't think I should say who we've been approaching until one of them says yes.
TB: Are you able to say anything about what the story is?
GLG: Yes. And no. Not too much. It's a thriller that mixes elements of a twisted fairy tale with things like Misery, The Lord of the Flies, The Blue Lagoon. But I can't tell you any more than that.
TB: One of the things that can happen when directors come to Hollywood is that they end up in deals that cut them out of the development process. But it sounds like you've been very active in getting Solo ready.
GLG: Yes. After I was in Toronto with King of the Hill, I got my agency – Paradigm – and spent this last year reading scripts. Like a lot of directors that have got some attention from Hollywood, I guess. But with every script I read I tried to be really honest and sent back a lot of notes on the scripts. And I learned a lot about how to really put my point of view into these scripts and that's what happened with Solo. They offered me the script and Guy phoned me. He'd seen King of the Hill and Gold Circle is also working with Luiso Berdejo [another Spanish film maker who has some common connections with Gallego] and is really happy with his work. So he sent me the script and I started offering ideas and changing things and we spent a lot of time making new notes. We moved the story and changed some things about the background stories of the characters. I'm really excited.
I think we still need to work, things will change more once we cast the actors – we'll have to change some dialogue and things – but I feel like I'm in a really comfortable position to offer my own ideas. And if everything goes right it looks like I'll be able to work with my regular DP, my Spanish DP, and that's something that really helps me. We've worked together now for eleven years and we always plan our movies together. I don't know if I'm going to be able to work with the sound designer that I usually work with but I'm trying to show them that if they liked what I did before it's because I did it with these people. And that all seems to be going in the right direction. I'm very happy with that.
And I'm working on one other film, too.
TB: Oh, yeah?
GLG: Yes, I'm working on a script with Paramount Vantage. It's a movie called A Jealous Ghost, with Kirsten Dunst. I got it also in this process last year of being sent a lot of scripts. They sent it and they liked my notes and as we started talking everything just looked positive. This one's not a secret at all, it's been announced in The Hollywood Reporter, but I've preferred to keep cool about it so far. But I'm working on that, on the final notes for my version of it. I'm working with the screen writer to get the new version complete. And it's really nice, I feel somehow like it's a different kind of production. They're really open to my notes, really happy with what we're doing, and I feel like we're all working in the same language. The notes from Paramount Vantage, from the producer, the screenwriter and myself, we all want the same kind of movie. The references we're all talking about are all the same and they're all really great reference points: The Shining and Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion.
TB: So it'll probably be Solo and then A Jealous Ghost and then the Spanish film?
GLG: I'm really calm about that. I'm just working hard on everything and we'll see what happens. I don't want to anticipate the way things will happen. I'm just working hard. I'm doing the storyboards for Solo and I'm happy with that. I'm working on the script for A Jealous Ghost and I'm happy with that. I don't know what will happen, we just have to wait and keep working every day. When you say it's going to happen like this and this and this … I don't know. It would be great, but I don't know. I just want to make the movies that make me really happy and to continue working.