Graffiti is hard to erase off, not just from the wall, but the mind too… Lluís Quílez’s Graffiti follows the love saga of Edgar, the lone survivor of what seems to be a nuclear massacre. His willful measure to sustain himself in the derelicts finds a new meaning when a singular word ‘Anna’ appears on the wall. The story then revolves around the two strangers who despite their physical barriers bring one another into the sanctum of their souls, all through the chat-like conversations sprayed across the wall. Graffiti, in its very unparallel-to-modern times’ setting, compels you to draw the comparisons to today’s times & reflect on the universality of the nature of love.
Whilst Graffiti continues to enthrall the audience world-over, Indie Shorts Mag had the pleasure to pick the brain of the man whose soulful direction brought to screen a Graffiti that is bound to remain indelible. Here’s an excerpt from that interview.
Indie Shorts Mag(ISM): Love is such a universal concept. Where did you draw your inspiration for the plot? Specifically from somewhere or someone, perhaps?
Lluís Quílez(LQ): Graffiti talks about idealized love and about how our fantasy and imagination can help us cover our most basic needs.
There is a long tradition of love stories that have grown through long distance letters or messages. I thought it would be a good idea to tell a story that could identify the conflicts of our time when talking to someone we have never seen but in a post-apocalyptic environment.
Nowadays, with the appearance of chats, social networks and instant messaging we are all able to identify with the situation in the film. Nevertheless, the tendency towards individualism and immediacy has also led us to a greater degree of isolation. I am certainly interested in this paradox produced by the use of the Internet.
ISM: Whilst isolation carries with it a strange allure. Wasn’t the filming in remote locales (Pripyat, Ukraine) a challenge in itself?
LQ: “GRAFFITI” was shot in the abandoned town of Pripyat, near Chernobyl’s nuclear power plant in Ukraine. It is an amazing and unique place in the world, as it has remained intact and uninhabited for nearly 30 years since the accident that caused the evacuation and closure of the nuclear plant. It is quite complicated to get into Pripyat to shoot a film due to the security measures that need to be taken in the “exclusion zone”. “GRAFFITI” is the first film production to be filmed entirely within the “exclusion zone”. Being able to film “GRAFFITI” in Pripyat was a dream came true, as I had been wanting to do so for years.
A crew of ten members, including the actor, went to Pripyat. We stayed there for 6 days, the first one scouting and then shooting all the exteriors, the rooftops and a few interiors. It was a tough and intense shooting, with no artificial lighting and no logistic support, we did it with a Red Epic camera and anamorphic lenses.
It was the perfect mix between a professional shooting and the “guerrilla” attitude, since all of us did all sort of tasks. It was a real challenge and for sure the shooting I have the best souvenir of.
Shooting in Pripyat is uncomfortable mostly for the weather conditions. We were at -15 Celsius and the snow reached our knees. The radiation matter is totally under control. Following a few simple rules there is no risk. However, we had to cross 3 checkpoints to get in and get out, where the army measured our radiation to make sure we were clean and we were not leaving with any radioactive particle.