Spanish Director Eva Saiz Talks ‘House of Beasts,’ Generational Pressure, Re-writing, Childhood

I think that capacity to keep changing the text is what really sparked my curiosity. Now when I read them I see they are very directed and highly conditioned in their visuals. So by the end of film school I threw myself into the world of short films – also because I had finished very young and didn’t have that pressure some of my colleagues had of getting a job. It was very organic. I studied screenwriting at the ECAM and never saw myself directing. Now that I direct, I understand it from a point of view of constant re-writing, on set, with the actors, and during the editing: On being open for things to appear. While doing so I had an adaptation of a tale I liked but never found the right director to do it. But many who read my scripts thought I would end up doing so. So when a couple of friends formed a production company suddenly the idea came of me doing it.
Now that the value of the screenplay and the integral role of screenwriters is better understood, thewy can have an easier transition to directing. What was your experience, however?
What’s your experience as a filmmaker in a market that is rapidly changing? Spain’s experiencing a boom in creators who are bringing new projects to the table as industry development capacity escalates.
And the fact that question keeps on popping out makes me think we are a generation of filmmakers with a lot of pressure to position ourselves and to constantly make statements of intentions. I’ve been recurrently asked why I’m not making a film about girls, instead of kids, and I’m not simply because it would read differently.
His coming of age, however, underscores innocence as not a lack of conscience but of unnecessary pain. Produced by Almaina Producciones, “House of Beasts” follows Pablo, 8,  who experiences Madrid and the world of adults alongside his imaginary friend, Lucas. Decoding the unassailable from the point of view of a child, his imagination and innocence, the two will have a summer to remember as Pablo inexorably exits childhood.
Variety talked with Saiz as her project advances at the ECAM Screen Incubator.
As the demand for Spanish content and young talent booms, with a plethora of new opportunities come new uncertainties.
Portraying childhood comes always with a variety of questions, of narration, point of view, and of a generational  gap. How would you like to approach childhood in a “new” Spain?
Thoughtful and candid, Saiz moved from screenwriting to direction with her first short, “Mujer sin hijo,’' which won a Malaga Festival Audience Award in 2019. Part of ECAM’s Screen industry platform, its Incubator for independent producers is rapidly consolidating as one of the key new development labs in Spain. Her work brims with caring and patient observation. Eva Saiz’s ‘House of Beasts’ is one of the selected works for this year's edition. It stands out as a promising piece of delicate storytelling.
And yet never has so much content been produced. Doesn’t that allow space for so many new ways to address the topics at hand… 
Things get branded without going through  “quality control” – both of their quality and what they say, and how they says it. But it is also clear that someone has seen a chance for profit, a selling point, and we are becoming less and less critical with the content we consume. It scares me because it often feels like a system is finding new ways to stay the same and change little. A film, regardless of its topic, has to speak for itself, and I feel we are losing our critical judgment when it comes to topics we feel close to. I feel we’re a generation aching to take part and leave a testimony of what we’re historically living, which is a beautiful thing that film can be of service to.
It can lead to a filmmaking that becomes ever more pamphleteering and less and less personal. A film that feels very activist in the message that it is trying to send but that transits a common ground where in the end the film belongs to nobody. This I find potentially dangerous. We all share an urgency to be deeply personal in everything we do while at the same time – and this is my very personal opinion – I often feel like I’m forming in a system which prefers to frame me as a woman, as a female individual inside the system. I sometimes feel very lost.
I don’t have any kids around me, in my daily life. But beyond that age everything has radically changed. While shooting my short film it was clear to me that children really want to become older and gain access to a world they don’t understand and no one is explaining to them. We live in a profoundly violent and sexualized society which is yet filled with taboos. So when it comes to childhood I drink mostly from my own memories of a society which feels far more extreme in certain aspects. I’m the youngest of my family and my cousins are long from having kids. There are some places I’d like to transit but I’m not quite sure how to approach them – social networks, the internet and its complex universe. The internet has blown everything apart and it feels more and more radical. Luckily those are spaces that are still a bit far from the kids of the story, who are eight or ten years old. That fascinates me: the territory of childhood where one repeats messages from an adult world in which the adults are also deeply lost.” />

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