Q&A: Rodrigo Sorogoyen, director/writer of short film ‘Mother’

By Josh Morris

Mother is a riveting short film about Elena, a single mother who receives an alarming phone call from her six-year-old son while he is on vacation with his father. Director/writer Rodrigo Sorogoyen was kind enough to answer some questions about the film.

Informer Media Group: What inspired this story?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: Something similar happened to a girl-friend of mine, though obviously without a tragedy occurring. She lived through the situation of receiving a telephone call from her son who was on vacation with her ex-husband, and the boy told her he didn’t know where his father was. What lasted three minutes in real life, in our short film is lengthened to a tragedy with maximum tension. It seemed to me to be very powerful material for a thriller with very few elements, for a thriller which begins in an everyday situation and ends in the huge emotional rollercoaster ride of the protagonist, Elena.

Informer Media Group: Is there anything in the film that may be missed by an American audience?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: No, it is a very straightforward, universal story I think. A mother loses her son, there can’t be anything more universal than understanding the pain that comes from losing a loved one. It is something which is going to be understood in any country and in any culture. The only references which might escape an American audience are the geographical ones, but that would happen too if we were talking about an unknown American town. In the film, we see the Spanish Basque Country and the French Basque Country and any spectator can understand it.

Informer Media Group: What a stirring performance by Marta Nieto.

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: Marta is a mother, a single mother and I knew this was essential for the actress’ performance. I believe a great deal in what an actor can personally bring to a role, and that if the actor is like the character in some way, then that’s a plus. It’s not like they have to be alike, but the more things they have in common, the better for the character.

Informer Media Group: Fascinating. Why is the continuous shot important for the film?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: I knew I wanted a sequence shot from the very beginning, and that this would give the short a lot of tension.

Informer Media Group: Why was important for Ivan to be lost at the beach? Why not a forest? or a deserted town?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: The beach brings to mind many things, and personally, the beaches of the French Landas are very beautiful and desolate. The beaches of the Mediterranean tend to be small and hot and not very wild. But the French beaches are enormous, with lots of waves and nature is very powerful there. It was important that there was a sense of menace all around, also from the sea, the absence of urban centers and people. Besides, it’s a place where people windsurf, and that was a good reason for the father to have made a trip there. A forest doesn’t give you the same thing, it’s much easier to get lost in a forest, while nobody thinks they are going to get lost on a beach. A forest is a place which makes you take precautions, whereas the beach is a playful place. And it is much more terrifying to get lost on a beach because apparently, you can see the horizon on every side.

Informer Media Group: I got the sense that something sinister was occurring … as if the events of the film weren’t entirely an accident…. Was that something you intended?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: Yes, that feeling is there, in a subtle way, very few spectators see it like that, which was the objective, that they not see it. There is something about wanting to tell something more, deep down I am talking about mother-son relationships, the relationship too of the mother with the grandmother. I wanted the spectator’s imagination to soar, I didn’t want to direct the spectator to think that the accident had another explanation.

I wanted the spectator to be free to think whatever they liked, I didn’t want to direct them. There are spectators who will think it, depending on the kind of people they are, and others who won’t and that is just what was interesting to me.

Informer Media Group: When Ivan says “He’s gone,” I’m not certain why, but I thought to myself … “Is this film a statement on God’s presence? Or absence?”

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: No, absolutely not. But in the subconsciousness of every person, of every storyteller, of every film-maker, there are completely unknown places, so maybe it’s what I am talking about without really meaning to at all. It’s certainly not intentional, that is for sure. Maybe in 20 years’ time when I know my unconscious better, I will say yes, that the short film was about the presence of God.

Informer Media Group: It could be my subconscious! Is the film a comment about Mother Nature at all?  Is she powerless to protect against the Void?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: No, Mother Nature is never powerless, she is all-powerful.

Informer Media Group: What’s next for you?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: I always have several projects in mind, and we’re in production with MOTHER, the feature film, with a very strong script, but I do know that after MOTHER, I want to take a rest and calmly decide what I want to do with the rest of my life.

Informer Media Group: Where can people learn more about you and your projects?

Rodrigo Sorogoyen: There is no webpage as such, but right now we are in production of a film in which the short will be the first scene of the feature film and we don’t want to announce what happens next yet. We are absolutely thrilled with this project, it is very special and I am dying for people to see it.

For more information click here.

 

 

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