Guillermo Del Toro on Mama, picking producing projects and getting no sleep
Character... del Toro with weird pink bird thing (Credit: Rex Features)Oscar-nominated director Guillermo del Toro is an ever-more-familiar name thanks to his involvement with the likes of ‘Hellboy’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ and the upcoming ‘Pacific Rim’. But the prolific Mexican is also a writer and producer, and in the latter capacity has helped shepherd the careers of directors like Juan Antonio Bayona (‘The Orphanage’), Troy Nixey (‘Don’t be Afraid of the Dark’) and Gillem Morales (‘Julia’s Eyes’). He’s back this week presenting ‘Mama’, a creepy horror from director Andy Muschietti, and Yahoo! caught up with him for an exclusive insight into the film.
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Yahoo! Movies: Your name has become a mark of quality for the films you produce – what did you see in Andy that made you want to take the leap for him?
Guillermo del Toro: Rarely do you find a director that has that strong of a voice coming out on the first movie. The two times I’ve found somebody like that it was Juan Antonio Bayona with ‘The Orphanage’ and Andy with ‘Mama’. I think in both cases they came from shooting short films and hundreds and hundreds of commercials and music videos. In both cases, too, I found that their intelligence and understanding of cinema was of a more classic ilk. It was not the fast-cutting, super-flashy commercial aesthetics. They were coming from a really emotional place. Bayona was a big admirer of American filmmakers, but had a really European sensibility, and Andy was a guy that loved to be in film, but ultimately has a strangely American sensibility.
YM: Is it essential to see the root of that vision? That the directors don’t just rely on your vision to launch them?
GDT: Yes, I’ve tried to produce movies that I’ve had a lot in common with, but I’ve tried very much not to impose a visual sensibility to them that comes from me. I really love to respect the director in those projects because it’s ultimately their movie. Andy, in the same way as Bayona and Guillem Morales had in Julia’s Eyes, they go for an aesthetic that’s very different from what I would do, but I respect it.
YM: How do you find these guys?
GDT: Well, every time is different. Bayona I met in a film festival, Andy, my assistant brought me the short. With Troy Nixey I saw the short through a webmaster in America. In the case of Guillem Morales, I saw his first feature film and loved it. It’s a different approach every time. I’m producing a filmmaker right now in Mexico, and I saw his short films while I was a juror at a festival. I saw them and loved them. But normally, every year I see almost a hundred shorts, I would say.
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YM: Where do you find the time to do all this?
GDT: You know, it’s really weird, but this is the way I’ve always worked, since the start of my career, but now all the projects I’m doing go public. I find that it gives me great results to create small compartments in my life, where I work 8 to 10 hours on the film I’m actively directing, and then I dedicate two or three hours in the morning and two or three hours at night to the other projects, and I ultimately get five hours of sleep, if that. I really don’t sleep much. My personal life is almost exclusively dedicated to films. These are not secrets for a successful life, but they are certainly secrets for a productive one!