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An Interview with Jose Salaverria, Director of The Cage

by Mike Haberfelner

July 2021

Films directed by Jose Salaverria on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie The Cage - in a few words, what is it about?

 

The shortest answer is love, the movie is about love. Longer answer, it's about love and solitude of Eva, Fausto and Daphne, and the power of nature retaking earth after humans were wiped. And the longer version is: Well, we humans are destroying the planet, the wars, the racism, sexisim, and all the things that the media doesn't cover, my movie is about that, about the earth being better without us, and cleansing the earth of humans.

 

With The Cage being a post-doomsday movie of sorts, is that a genre you're at all fond of, and some of your genre favourites?

 

Well, I am thrilled with The Walking Dead graphic novel. I love the Cloverfield saga and the Mad Max saga. Melancholia, also. Hmm... also the part where Dr. Manhattan is on the moon in The Watchmen graphic novel.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration when writing The Cage?

 

Well as mentioned above, Dr. Manhattan  in the Watchmen, The Walking Dead comicbook series. Omega Man maybe.

 

What can you tell us about your co-writer Inti Torres Melo, and what was your collaboration like?

 

It took us 4 years to have the script ready, he lived in another city than me, so we used to go on trips, smoke weed and write... it was a great experience, now he is one of my close friends.

 

Of the three survivors in your movie, whom do you identify with the most, and why? And quite honestly, what would you do if you were among the very last humans left on earth?

 

All three characters are based on me and Inti, and all of them have a piece of myself in them, but my favourite character for sure is Eva, she had the guts and the courage to go with her instincts, even in the post apocalypse, even if that meant doom for the human race, and her political statement on why we as human deserved this doomsday.

 

Making a movie set in a world devoid of people - what are the major challenges there, from a logistical point of view?

 

Shooting in Venezuela gave me a great chance to shoot this, we have so many non-permit required locations. I would think the greatest challenge was getting the sound right, if there are no humans, there shouldn't be any human sound... that was a challenge. Also this is a very minimal budget movie, we had to travel a lot to get locations, that was also a challenge.

 

What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

Well I wanted a very slow paced film, where you can see the main characters slowly falling in love with each other, and also the solitude of Fausto, going mad feeling alone in the universe. I had long takes and a lot of wide shots for this.

The B story was narrated through animals and nature retaking the planet. This had a lot of close-ups of animals and timelapses.

 

Do talk about your key cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Well, this is hard for me to talk about ,but I had another girl as lead, and 10 days before shooting she said that she did not like the part, and she ditched me, and we found Karina Velasquez, one day before we shoot, and oh my, it was the best thing that has ever happened to the film. I am not a director that rehearses, I usually develop characters and rehearse one time on set, so I was going blind with her, and damn she can deliver some great performance.

With Juvel Vielma, we met during the shoot of Inti's debut short film, and it has been set since then.

And Ananda Troconis, I knew her other films and I loved her, now we are very close friends.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

This is my first film, so everyone was very supportive, by the end of the film we all loved each other so much.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Cage?

 

It has been very positive, it has won several festivals, and the public loves it. It has been on 2 Venezuelan critic sites with very positive reviews.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Right now we are in post-production of my second film Esto no es Sad Face (This ain't Sad Face), it's about rock and roll in the 90s. It is a great film, totally different from The Cage. And we are writing my third film called The Darwin Project, it's dystopian sci-fi again.  

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I am an engineer, worked on the field for about 3 years, and one day trying to get away from a  toxic girl I decided to use all my savings and study ANYTHING in New York. So I googled "quick study programs in New York" and an Google ad from NYFA showed up. Without giving it a lot of thought I enrolled, and here I am 12 years later writing my third film.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to The Cage?

 

Mostly commercials, nothing major tbh.

 

Having made the reportedly first science fiction film of Venezuela, what can you tell us about the Venezuelan film scene as such, especially when it comes to genre films?

 

Well, Venezuela has had a great film industry for several years, including Goya- and Cannes-winning films, and we also did some amazing genre films such as La Casa del Fin de los Tiempos. Of course there is not denying that we are going through a very rough economical and political situation, but movies are still being made.

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

Efficient? I don't know, I don't like to waste the audience's time, everything on the screen needs to say something...

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

J.J. Abrams, Danny Boyle, Kubrick, Tarantino, Vince Gilligan, so many to mention, but that's the short list.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Not in any particular order and depending on the mood: Full Metal Jacket, Kill Bill, Grizzly Men, The Art of Killing, A Clockwork Orange, Songs from the Second Floor, SuperBad, 8mm, Joker, so many to mention, hehe.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

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I really didn't like Wonder Woman 84. I am a fan of the comics and the films, but that one I didn't like.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

www.cinestesiamedia.com

My Instagram is @jishmedia, but I rarely post.

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Don't think so.

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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