Tag Archives: Spanish Talent

Through the eyes of Èlia Gasull Balada, Editor of ‘Icaros: A Vision’

Elia 2
Èlia Gasull Balada, photo by Carla Gonzalez

Film editor Èlia Gasull Balada had quite a 2017. Esquire and the The New Yorker included one of her most recent films, Icaros: A Vision, in their lists of the best films of the year. After an extensive festival circuit, Icaros had its theatrical release in the United States that summer and soon afterwards in Canada and England. The film will be released in Mexican and Italian theaters this upcoming spring as well.

With a solid experience in cutting trailers, music videos and commercials for production companies and directors such as Part 2 Pictures and Matthew Newton, Gasull Balada balances her career between feature and documentary films like the Documentary TV Series, This Is Life with Lisa Ling, and the highly anticipated social and political wonder, THE KING. Consistently ranging from documentaries to fiction work, Gasull Balada’s versatility makes her undoubtedly a multi-faceted editor.

Following a period of filming in 2014, Gasull Balada’s talents were recognized when she was recommended to edit the feature film Icaros: A Vision. When meeting with Abou Farman, the producer, as well as with the co-directors, Leonor Caraballo and Matteo Norzi, they clicked and immediately decided to start a collaboration together. Èlia was very attracted by the synergy that existed between Caraballo, Norzi and Farman. Norzi has a background as a conceptual artist and Caraballo was a photographer and a video artist in a duo collaboration with Farman, who is also an anthropologist.

Icaros: A Vision follows the life of Angelina, an American woman who travels to the Amazon in search of a miracle after exhausting all her medical options back home. In her search, she finds a group of foreign individuals seeking transcendence, companionship, and the secrets of life and death. Eventually, her perceptions are altered by the ancient psychedelic plant known as ayahuasca, as well as through her bond with Arturo, a young indigenous shaman who is losing his eyesight. When Gasull Balada embarked on this project, she faced the challenge of editing a long meditation between dreams and reality. One of her primary tasks was finding a way to escape the conventional and create an original universe that could faithfully represent  the vision that Leonor and Matteo had. In Gasull Balada’s words, Icaros: A Vision “stays with you and brings you to the Amazon in a way that you don’t expect.”  

At the outset of the film’s editing journey, Gasull Balada was working closely with Caraballo; unfortunately, Caraballo passed away before the editing finished. The film is partly based on Caraballo’s life experiences with cancer and her passing opened a big reflection about life and death for Gasull Balada. They had worked very closely till almost the very end and witnessing the departure of a young artist and creative force was a life lesson for her.

“Leonor’s commitment and vision came from the pure essence of being an artist. It is not easy to make films that talk about difficult subjects like death and she gave everything to it. Icaros wants to explore the mystery of something that goes beyond the rational. The challenge lied in bringing the audience to dark and unexplored places and blurring the  boundaries between dreams and reality. From there, we tried to find moments of truth that could become moving sensorial experiences and could lead to reflections about what it means to die,” she said.

In the wake of Caraballo’s passing, Gasull Balada, Norzi and Farman kept working together to complete the film. Because of the extraordinary and unfortunate circumstances of the project, the edit of Icaros: A Vision was a long process, providing Gasull Balada a long window of time that allowed her to experiment widely with the footage.

“It’s not common to get enough time to experiment until you exhaust all the possibilities. With this film we really pushed ourselves to try many different things until we got to places we felt very confident about. The vision was slowly constructed and we think that Leonor is very pleased with what we did,” Gasull Balada commented.

“Èlia was a crucial part of our film Icaros: A Vision, which had a successful release in North America with full accolades from the press — The New York Times, Variety, The New Yorker, The Hollywood Reporter, and more. As an editor, she is technically skillful, but that is not what stands out about her. She is someone who finds solutions where none seem to exist because she is both patient and experimental. She can layer images and meanings together. That is what worked for us in our film, that deep layering of meaning and images that make a film transcend the occasion of its shooting. She also has a keen eye for detail, which for an editor means making the right decision about when to cut. Elia’s relationship to cinema is a creator’s relationship. She is committed to an aesthetic and moral vision. She ‘sees’ the film… that is, she sees through the material of the film into its deeper meanings and builds the film from there. This was a difficult film in a difficult circumstance, where the main director was on her deathbed right next to Elia as she was editing – I truly don’t believe any other person would have made it through those conditions, let alone accomplish a masterful edit,” said Farman.

Norzi and Caraballo had in mind a very clear aesthetic that it was partly influenced by the experiences they had had with ayahuasca and the Shipibo Conibo imaginary, but they wanted to bring in other elements like animation and some of the previous video art that Caraballo and Farman had created. Gasull Balada faced the challenge of finding a cohesive language that could interweave the original footage shot for the film with all this other material.

“We played with many different elements in this movie but two of them were essential to me: Nature and the Icaros, which are the songs that the shamans sing during the ayahuasca ceremonies. The jungle embraces the journey of Angelina and Arturo, as well as all the other passengers, and it is also the stage for The Vision and the sequence of hallucinations that compose the story. We experimented a lot with how the forest was going to be present throughout the film and how it would be an essential layer of the whole sensory experience. And we did the same thing with the Icaros. There’s no additional music besides the shamanic songs and those help the audience to vibrate and to navigate through different moods. The harmony of the jungle, and the wisdom of the Shipibo Conibo people come in a full circle that starts and ends with Nature. It’s based on the concept of unity and that was our guide during the editing process. Later on, the work that Tom Paul did with the sound design brought the film to another level and created a full immersive experience,” pointed Gasull Balada.

Icaros: A Vision went on to premiere at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival in the International Narrative Competition. At the Crested Butte Film Festival, Icaros: A Vision won the Special Jury Award. It went on to be an official selection at the Mill Valley Film Festival, the Warsaw Film Festival, and the Santa Fe Film Festival, and screened at International Film Festivals like La Roche Sur Yon, Guadalajara, Habana, Cleveland and Istanbul, among many others.  

 

By Sean Desouza

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Writer Victor Osorio took readers around the world with comic strip ‘Alienados’

When Victor Osorio was seven years old, he would sneak out of his room at night to watch television. When his parents caught him, they did not punish him, but rather made a deal: if he wanted to stay up at night, he had to read. Somehow, what seemed so awful at the time ended up becoming the guiding force in Osorio’s life, because he became an avid reader, which prompted his interest in writing. Soon after this, he began writing short stories and poems, and since that time, writing and creating stories has been his biggest passion.

Osorio is now an internationally celebrated writer. Originally from Barcelona, Spain, he rose to the top of his industry in his country quickly, largely due to his widely successful children’s book Cosas Que Nadie Sabe, published in both Spanish and Catalan, as well as German. He also wrote an episode for the award-winning web series Hollywood, and currently helps the company Origo Media writing short commercials and commercial videos. He is extremely versatile, and has even written software manuals for Ceinsa. His success truly began, however, when he began writing for the comic Alienados in the popular magazine Dibus!.

“Everyone at Norma Editorial, the publishing house behind Dibus! located in Barcelona, was very happy with my work. The magazine’s editors told me that they were very impressed with my skills and talent, especially since I was in my early twenties back then. and I’m so happy that I took the opportunity and did such a good job with it. I’ve always loved comic-books and when the people at Norma Editorial offered me the chance to write this comic strip for a comic-focused children’s magazine, I immediately jumped on it,” said Osorio.

The iconic comic strip tells the story of three funny and tiny aliens who crash-land on Earth and have to explore the planet with no knowledge whatsoever of the culture and traditions. In every issue, the aliens travel to a different part of the world and have comical adventures based on the fish-out-of-water cliché. The strip also teaches curiosities and traditions of the country visited to the children reading the magazine.

“Working on this was awesome. I always loved comic-books so being able to write a two-page comic strip for a famous and renowned national magazine was like a dream come true,” said Osorio.

Prior to working on Alienados, Osorio greatly impressed those at Norma while writing for their publisher’s blog. The Dibus! magazine editors quickly took note of what an exceptional writer he was, and invited him to become part of the comic. It wasn’t long afterwards when readers also began to become impressed with the writer’s talents.

“Victor is a very talented and flexible writer, able to produce a comedic comic for kids while also instilling a love for learning and travelling. He has a very clear writing style and a good eye for interesting and appealing subjects. His style is very unique and he is able to produce all sorts of content,” said Juan Avella, a fellow writer who enjoyed Osorio’s work on Alienados.

With each new issue, Osorio would begin by researching the region or country the magazine editors said the aliens were going to visit that month. During this time, he would figure out what the best thing to focus on would be to capture readers’ attention. Whether it was food, tourist attractions, famous people or locations, he always picked subjects that were not common knowledge, allowing for a more entertaining read.

“I remember using the Gauchos for the Patagonia because I could use it for a joke, and because it’s a fairly unknown, but very peculiar culture,” Osorio described.

Despite having no previous experience in writing comic strips, Osorio took the opportunity and soared. Working with just a two-page strip, he had to be very concise and effective, skills that he carries with him on every project, as they make the best style of writing.

He also was given the opportunity to work on the page design when creating the panels for the comic, which allowed him to see how his writing and the illustrator’s drawings worked seamlessly together.

“You need to take into account how the human eye reads a page and the shapes and colors that it feels attract to, the motion of the bodies in the page, fonts, and more. Learning to do all that while actually writing something that will be printed was difficult but very rewarding,” said Osorio.

Although this was Osorio’s first foray into comic-book writing, he loved every minute of the experience. He was given complete creative freedom, and was never told to make large changes, as the editors enjoyed his work so much.

“At the time, I didn’t value it as much as I do now, but doing that comic strip I got the opportunity to be entertaining and offer some knowledge at the same time for the first time in my career. The collaboration with illustrator Dani Cruz was also amazing. He would translate my words into pictures with great accuracy and he offered valuable advice and tips to solve some of the narrative challenges that I faced,” he described.

Without Osorio, the Alienados strip would not have seen the success that it did during his time at Dibus! and the experience provided the perfect learning experience for writing for children. We all know this is now something Osorio more than excels at, and we can definitely understand why.

Rhythmic gymnast Ana Perez talks National Base Spanish Championship 2015

Ana Perez has always loved rhythmic gymnastics. It was her first love, and she realized it when she was just four years old, growing up in Valencia, Spain. She appreciates every aspect of it, basking in the sense of achievement that comes from having a perfect routine. She loves the concentration of the sport, only having two minutes to make something flawless, knowing even the smallest twitch can throw off everything for the judges. However, what she likes most, are the hours spent training, knowing she is fighting for a dream. She felt this when she was a competitive athlete for twelve years, and now, she feels it as a coach.

Working with many top athletes, Perez quickly became recognized as one of Spain’s best rhythmic gymnastics coaches at the age of sixteen. Ten years have gone by, and her reputation is known, not just in her native country, but around the world in her sport. She has won championships and trained the best, sharing her experience with beginners and shaping them into professionals. In 2015, this is just what she did for her winning team at the National Base Spanish Championship with her club, Club Morvedre.

“When I saw the result on the screen of the ranking and saw that Club Morvedre was the first, we were calm, since there were some teams to compete, but when the category ended and Morvedre was first in the National Base Championship in the Juvenile category, we embraced the technical team and the gymnasts who make up the whole and we were excited. At that moment, we felt very proud, because it was a dream that we had finally achieved. At other times, we had not had good days of competition and at last here we had performed a perfect exercise,” Perez described.

Every November, this Championship occurs, where 16 teams of each category come from all the communities. This Championship of Spain Base level corresponds to the second highest level that Spain has, only ahead is the Absolute level. It is a competition that allows gymnasts to be evaluated on their level, where they can take a step forward in the rankings. It is one of the most vital competitions for the athletes in the country.

“I love being able to teach gymnasts, transmitting the values of sport, competition, discipline, companionship and self-improvement that are essential to rhythmic gymnastics. Even more importantly, about the relationship between a gymnast and her coach. A good relationship leads to the achievement of results. There is a very strong relationship between myself, as a coach, and this youth team, as performers. Our mutual work has allowed us to obtain the best result that we could achieve,” said Perez.

As a coach, Perez helped to make the corrections and modify those parts of the choreography that did not work well. Thanks to these corrections, the team were classified in the autonomic phase for the National Base Spanish Championship, in Zaragoza, and were champions of Spain in the Young Category.

“Ana worked closely on the project where we managed to help the youth team win first place in the Spanish Championship. She is an excellent co-worker and a good support in the hardest moments or, better said, in the most stressful moments as well as in the happiest ones. She always tries to look for the best for the Morvedre club, and she gives it her all. She is ferociously committed to her work. I have worked with her for a long time and she has taught me many things, among which I emphasize commitment, discipline and comradeship,” said Alicia Gaspar, Perez’s fellow coach.

When preparing the team for the competition, Perez worked on the warm-ups, handling of the ribbon, and the physical preparation required for competition, as the gymnasts needed to be in the proper physical condition at the required level of competition. This sport is about sets of repetitions of the choreographies prepared by the trainers so that the exercise is successfully performed. They trained in the summer, preparing the choreography with the music. They trained three hours a day, five days a week, making sure every detail was ironed-out.

“My contribution has been to give my best to bring about the best result, both in the editing and in the choice of music. I have given them the commitment and the confidence to be able to get the result obtained. I find this to be an essential element to coaching any sport, both when it comes to training and when it comes to competing. The instructions are key, as well as the part that the athlete plays,” said Perez.

Some parts of the choreography originally did not go as planned, as the apparatuses fell and the gymnasts became nervous. Perez then decided to make it easier for some pitches, so gymnasts felt safer with their choreography. That is essential when it comes to competing, because gymnasts should be comfortable with their exercises. Without Perez, the team could never have achieved what they did, and this was acknowledged by all who witnessed the team’s results.

“As president of the Morvedre Club where Ana has been working for more than ten years, I have to thank her for everything she does: for being part of my team of coaches, for the great work done season after season at all levels and for her results obtained. But above all, I have to thank her for creating the good atmosphere of fellowship between coaches, parents and gymnasts, as well as the excellent preparation of the gymnasts that led to one of the competitions in which more than 100 gymnasts competed, getting to be among the best,” said Luis Marín.

Needless to say, Perez’s commitment to coaching is greatly appreciated by all.

Videographer and video editor Maria Aguado had “the courage to pursue her dream”

“All of our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Maria Aguado wrote this to herself at the beginning of her career. At the time, she was just a girl from Barcelona with big dreams; she wanted to make films. Throughout her life, Aguado never stopped believing she was meant to be behind a camera, and this belief became her mantra. Now, she is one of Spain’s best videographers and video editors, and her faith to overcome any obstacle has contributed greatly to her acclaim.

Throughout her career, Aguado has shown international audiences what she is capable of with a series of celebrated projects. She worked with high-profile fashion designers Claudia Morera and Carlota Cahis, the popular shoe brand Alvarez & Moixonet, the fashion company Brownie, the iconic fitness brand Les Mills, and the eclectic Spanish shop Button Barcelona. She worked with the advertising company Puente Aereo helped the company gain new clients, her videos for the magician Nilo with MCN Magic helped put the magician on the map, and just this year, she worked with the fitness company Human Body Experience to create outstanding informational videos for consumers. Her work in both filming and editing has impressed many, and her passion for what she does inspires others.

“As editors, having another point of view is basic. Working together gives us the opportunity to fusion our minds and obtain the best results. Maria brings a very creative perspective to every project. She is very hard working and has a huge knowledge as an editor. Working with her is a pleasure,” said fellow editor Felipe Bravo.

Bravo is a well-known editor in Barcelona, and has worked alongside Aguado many times.  The two immediately connected because of their shared passion for film, and make quote the team. Last year, they worked on the award-winning short Happy Burger, a project that Aguado thinks of fondly.

“I love the feeling of being emerged. While I film or edit everything else disappears,” said Aguado. “I create a world that is later shown to an audience to express a feeling, a concept or an idea. Since the age of seven, I filmed my dolls, edited my films and wrote screenplays without being aware of what I was doing. I grew up with a camera.”

Aguado’s first job was years ago, working as a film editor for Puente Aéreo, an advertisement company. Just beginning, it helped the now esteemed filmmaker learn a lot about advertising and editing ads for television. Since that time, she has worked for countless brands. After Puente Aéreo, she moved on to working for the interactive party platform Get Wasted Events. She was ready for a new experience, and it was there was she learned exactly what style she enjoyed that has now become her signature.

“I always film with a bit of camera movement. My shots are not static and I use a lot of close ups. While filming I try to forget everything I’ve ever seen and have a new vision in each project. I play while I am filming, I don’t see it as a job. I also edit in my head while filming, I know which shot will go next to the other, it’s like building up a story,” said Aguado.

Aguado’s first time working with the fashion industry was with Carlota Cahis, a well-known designer of jewelry and clothes. By this time, Aguado already had an outstanding reputation, and the firm contacted her to film and edit Cahis’ fashion show. Cahis was instantly impressed, and contacted Aguado many times after this to shoot for her. Quickly, other designers began to notice her and to seek the videographer out. She did several fashion videos for fashion designers such as Mercedes Arnus in her “Pure White” Collection and Claudia Morera’s brand, selected in 080 Fashion Week Catwalk Barcelona.

“I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do. I grew up playing with a camera. This is what I’ve always done. Filming and creating is a huge part of me. Without filming and editing I wouldn’t be able to fully express myself,” said Aguado.

Not only does Aguado excel with advertising and fashion videos, she is highly experienced in film. She worked with director Max Larruy on the film Caperucita Roja, and later worked on the feature film Barcelona Nit destiu. She has an extraordinarily artistic eye whilst looking through a lens, and her editing experience helps her know exactly how to frame a shot. She also edits films, such as the short Blanco Roto by Director Belen Reina.

“Creating movies is a way to believe in the magic of life. It is a way to experience different lives. It is a way to be a part of new stories and experience another point of view. It is a way to make people feel, know, and experience new emotions, new ideas! It is a way to express the parts most inside of your soul, and surprise yourself in the process by opening your mind to new perspectives. It is a way to make your dreams come true while you show them to the world. Making cinema is the same as travelling around your dreams. Making movies is not letting the child you’ve got inside to die. It is a game. Being able to make cinema is a good reason to be alive,” concluded Aguado.