Kiko is one half of a couple of young filmmakers who have become known in the film and TV industry as the Prada brothers. The other half is called Javier. Together, they’ve produced Dorien, one of the first web-series created for PLAYZ, the newly released online web content platform of the public channel Radio Televisión Española (TVE). Being an adaptation of English writer Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, this exciting web-series presents a woman, the Dorien who gives the project its title, who is an artist involved in the world of social media. The series opens with a shocking event: in the middle of a party, the body of a young model is found in the venue’s bathroom, prematurely aged. While this takes place, a journalist is in a delicate position: he must highlight news reports that bring the public’s attention to the website of the medium she works for. For this, he will have to interview a relevant influencer: Dorien.
Dorien is an adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Grey, by Oscar Wilde. Why was this inspiration for your web-series?
Well, if you look closely, Oscar Wilde’s novel and current reality have a lot in common. In the novel it was very important for Grey not to grow older, to be in style, to go to the opera, to be seen, to party and that is what we’ve transferred to the Dorien of the 21st Century with social media, likes, being an influencer and all these issues. Almost a century has passed and people are worried about the same issues: being cool, being noticed, it is that same nihilism but transferred to current times. We thought making Dorian Grey a woman, calling her Dorien was positive for the focus of the series.
It is interesting that, being a series made for the Internet, you chose to criticize online frivolity.
Well, I don’t think the broadcasting channels are the most important issues. The most important thing is the story. That it is on the internet is also an indication that not everything online is cool. I think that the fact that on the internet there is a criticism towards the internet makes Dorien more interesting. And I think Televisión Española counted on us because of this, because we believed this. I think criticizing the internet online is good. It is a good compensation.
One of the most interesting things is your mix of genres, your combination of thriller and soap operas with their personal relations. How did you consider making these mixes and what difficulties did you run into when bringing the pieces together?
We’ve always done this. In 2008 we were in the Young Filmmakers Workshops at Cinema Jove with a short film that was called Humanos con patatas. In that film we already did this, we played with personal relationships, and then we added horror, a bit of comedy… If you watch that short-film today and you then watch Dorien, you will find a lot of commonalities. We think that in all stories, in real life, there are moments of comedy, drama and moments that can be pure horror. It is a formula that we’ve been working with for twelve years already. It is like our personal identity or our brand. It is the way Javi and I work.
The original project of Dorien was making a feature film. How did the development change when it became a series?
Well, Javi and I had been developing Dorien for years, and we’ve always looked forward to making it into a film. But we saw the opportunity of presenting a project to PLAYZ and we thought it was the most appropriate. We always have around five or six scripts developed; when we have time, we start developing new ones. And then yes, of course, many things changed. For example, it was originally more of a crime scene film. Then Marcos became a journalist instead of a policeman, that was one of the suggestions PLAYZ gave us and we thought it was a good idea to make it more appealing to the general public. Those were, perhaps, the largest changes. If you pay attention, the total series length lasts almost as much as movie, around 90 minutes, but when you prepare a series you have to do it differently. All episodes have to have their beginning, plot and outcome. We had to reset everything and here is where we included two additional scriptwriters, Alberto López and Elena Morales, who gave us a general vision and an identity for the characters.
What do you consider about TVE and general television channels participating in the web-series market?
Well, to be honest and in a very direct and vulgar way, I think it’s awesome! I think it is awesome that they are investing in this. For us it has been an amazing experience to be able to work hand in hand with a television channel as large as Televisión Española, we’ve learned a lot. I mean, we are really looking forward to doing a second season if we get a green light for it, because it has been an amazing experience. I think that for people who are starting out, like we are, it is very important that larger channels invest in these types of formats. I consider PLAYZ very positive, and I hope we can grow with them.
Not long ago the web-series format was considered a less professional production. This seems to be changing. How do you view the future?
Of course, I’ll ask you a question now. For example, is Stranger Things a web-series or a series? Then, of course if I am competing against Stranger Things or the user, from his or her tablet or any other gadget is seeing Stranger Things, I have to give them something similar. Well, I wish I had that production level, but I mean that I have to compare myself to them. One should always compare him or herself to what’s better than them, not to what’s worse. Spain is very used to letting other people make something and buying the product. No, we believe that, if from the beginning we make quality products, like La casa de papel has been (produced for Atresmedia), for example, it will succeed outside of Spain. We have good scriptwriters, awesome actors, incredible technical teams. Let’s take advantage of this. I think the answer is there.
You and your brother have produced Pieles, Eduardo Casanova’s film. After producing something like this and then returning to a short-film project do you see it as a step back or a thrust forward?
In my opinion they are all movies. Right now we’ve just produced Eduardo Casanova’s new short-film. He filmed Pieles and now he’s done a short-film and we’ve entered the production. So, no, I don’t think it is a step back for either Eduardo or ourselves to produce a short-film. We’ve also just produced a short-film by Bárbara Santa-Cruz and we are part of the production of three more movies. As I said, for me these are all films or these are all series, the only thing that changes is the length, depending on the amount of screen time. Here the screen time are 25-minute-long episodes, well, that’s great, we’ll adapt. However, if we were asked for a 45-minute-long episode, we would make it 45 minutes long or an hour long. There is no problem.
In both Dorien and in Pieles there is an interest in deformity and strangeness. Is this a topic that you are especially interested in?
My brother and I are fans of terror movies and whenever we’ve produced any short-films in the last couple of years we’ve been interested [in these topics]. But we’ve also done other types of short-films. There are two specifically that are dramas: Lo estipulado, with Macarena Gómez, and another one called Llegar, and that is working very well in festivals. We consider these dramas are sometimes more terrifying than a terror movie. Is it an obsession with deformity? Not necessarily. What moves us is the story we want to tell at any given time. We can go from Dorien to doing a documentary like the one we produced about the life of Vicente Aranda. It has nothing to do with it.
You directed Queridos monstruos where you highlight the relevance of the fantasy genre in Spanish filmmaking. It is interesting, as it is a genre that is highly marketable, but the national production is not regarded highly.
Well, I think Spanish horror films are necessary. If you read all the books written about European horror films, the Spanish film industry plays an important role. We’ve had Chicho [Ibánez Serrador], we’ve had Jess Franco, we’ve had Paul Naschy, we’ve had a lot of important people. I’m going to give you an example, Sam Raimi in several of the shots of Evil Dead is inspired by Jesús Franco’s Drácula. Tarantino, in a part of Kill Bill called Novia ensangrentada, takes the title of a film by Vicente Aranda. With that you can imagine how much we’ve influence western filmmaking, both in the US and in the rest of Europe. Even nowadays there are excellent Spanish horror movies being produced. For example the phenomenon of Paco Plaza’s Verónica, which gave me immense happiness to know it has because so popular through Netflix. This is a trend that we should take into account and never lose, because the Spanish horror film industry is considered a genre in itself, much as the Japanese or the Italian ones or even the Troma gore. It is very important to preserve it and defend what has already been done. It is very important.
Always working with your brother, how do you organize it? Who does what?
Well, what we normally do is plan everything a little (well, not a Little, a lot – laughter). Then, when we arrive to the set, we know what we have to do. One of us has some scenes more prepared than others and we distribute the sequences evenly, as in ‘ok, you’ve worked more on this, today is your turn to manage the camera team and my turn to work with the actors’ and such. We always try to communicate the same [information] to the actors and the technical team, use the same language and clearly know our objectives. Over all, we have very intense previous meetings with the Directors of Photography, and mark very clearly what needs to be done at what time.
Advantages and disadvantages of working with a family member.
All! (laughter) All, all, all, but we try for the filming to stay on set. It is like a soccer game, during the game we kick each other, but then we have a beer together. So, basically, it doesn’t transcend work.
You’ve already commented that in 2008 you were given an award at the Young Filmmakers Workshop at Cinema Jove. What are your memories of this experience? What did it mean for you?
Well, for us it was very important because it was the ‘take off’ for many things. Thanks to that we entered Sitges [festival] for the first time. After that we were selected seven or eight times. It put us in the short-film orbit, it brought very positive things. I don’t know, it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I cherish the memory and I hope this time, returning after all these years, it is as good. I think it will be better, actually (laughs). So, just that, I hope so, because it is a festival that I find very endearing and I haven’t returned since Humanos con patatas. So, I’m thrilled, to tell the truth.