“If I took the stories of documentaries and told them as fiction, no one would believe them”

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Loris Omedes (Barcelona, 1964) began his filmmaking career in special effects. From 1982 to 1992, he headed the special effects department at a company called Amalgama. One of his projects was to coordinate the special effects for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona. A few years earlier, in 1989, he had started a production company—Bausan Films—with the goal of producing quality projects for cinema, television, advertising and the Internet. With films like Balseros, a documentary feature nominated for the Oscars in 2004, and Cerca de tu Casa, winner of a Goya Award, a Gaudí Award, and various international prizes, Bausan Films has cemented its position as an industry leader.

How did you get into cinema?

Through special effects. During the 1980s, I made a lot of rain and explosions for Catalan and Spanish movies.

From the movies to the Olympics…

Exactly. In 1992, I was asked to coordinate the special effects for the ceremonies at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. I coordinated all of the pyrotechnics, the helium balloons, the Comediants’ fire displays, and the arrow that lit the torch.

It really was a very cinematic ceremony.

It was spectacular. I remember picking up the phone and calling the head of air traffic control at the Barcelona airport to have him reroute the planes when we released Cobi. It was an incredible show.

But you came back to cinema, although in a different way…

Yes, after the Olympic ceremonies, I didn’t really feel like going back to making rain and explosions for Spanish movies. I wanted to decide on the ideas, books, news stories or scripts that could make a good movie. Intellectually it was far more enticing.

What about filmmaking appeals to you the most?

Cinema is a mix of art and industry. A producer produces out of a pressing need to tell a story, either to make money or to give people a voice. Looking back at my filmography, it becomes obvious that in my case it’s about giving people a voice.

True, your work tends to be very socially conscious. Did you start Bausan Films in 1989 with that in mind?

I’m not a Robin Hood of filmmaking who helps people in need. I produce stories that I fall in love with. Only in looking back at my work did I realize that I’m almost always interested in talking about social issues. I want to do my part to make our world a little better.

Over the past 30 years, you’ve picked up your fair share of Goyas and other awards. What is the secret to success?

Passion and commitment.

What genre do you feel most at home in? Documentaries are what brought you to the Oscars and the Goyas…

I feel at home in both, fiction and documentary. But when it comes to expressing reality, no fiction comes close to being as powerful and wild as a documentary. If you took the stories of documentaries and told them as fiction, no one would believe you. Fiction, on the other hand, gives you the freedom to make up worlds and narratives to tell a story, which can even have a happy ending.

What projects are you most proud of?

The most recent film, always. In any case, I’m proud of them all, even when I see them again years later. Some might be more successful and others bring in more money, but success doesn’t always mean money. There are other ways of measuring it.

Your latest film, Cerca de tu Casa, has gotten a lot of media attention thanks to the Goyas. It is a dramatic musical that tackles a social problem that is all too common at this time… Tell us how the idea came about and why you decided to cast Silvia Pérez Cruz.

In 2013, Eduard Cortés told me about an idea. He was convinced that I would like it. I didn’t want to hear it, because I didn’t think the time was right given the economic crisis the country was in, but at the same time, I was afraid I would like it. He suggested I make a film—a musical—about the eviction crisis starring Silvia Pérez Cruz, even if I had to shoot it on my phone.

And you couldn’t say no…

I liked the idea, I liked the subject, and I liked the social impact. Plus, I think Silvia is incredible. So we went for it.

I imagine you must get script pitches constantly…

I get sent scripts, movies, ideas all the time. Once a week at least.

How many actually get made?

Bausan Films doesn’t churn out movies like candy. We’re committed to each project and really give it our all. Doing the math, I’d say we make about one doc a year and a feature every three.

Have you ever thought one of your projects would do really well and in the end it didn’t?

So often. Success is relative. It depends on how the project is promoted, its distribution, and the advertising budget you have.

Is success measured in award nominations?

Success is getting to make a documentary and actually finishing it. The second stage of success is getting as many people as possible to see it. Awards and international festival nominations are important in making that happen. Festival prizes are your professional peers recognizing your work, whereas when a lot of people see your film, it is the audience recognizing your work.

You also produced 3055, the documentary about Jean Leon. What did you find most surprising about Jean Leon as a person?

I was drawn to the story of Ceferino Carrión, because he was a person chasing a dream. He overcame every obstacle and succeeded on the other side of the world.

Do you remember any anecdote in particular?

The day we interviewed Paul Newman, I was really nervous, and I forgot one of my notecards where I’d written down all of my questions. And then my wife made me take a photo with him. My entire image as a serious man crumbled.

What projects are you working on in the medium and short term?

I’m preparing a feature film and two documentaries. I’m also thinking about moving to the country (laughs).

 

A Brief Taste

Do you like wine?

Yes, a lot.

What is the best moment to enjoy a glass of wine?

At lunch and dinner.

A song to accompany a good wine.

The music of good conversation.

A place to get lost in.

L’Empordà or Australia.

If you could be reincarnated, who or what would you be?

A baby.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with my family, cook, play sports, and read.

A flaw and a virtue.

Anxiety and determination.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

An astronaut.

And as an adult?

An industrial engineer.

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