Valdeluz municipal district, 8 kilometers from Guadalajara, on a cold and clear morning in December. Rectilinear streets formed by blocks of similar and not very old urbanizations follow one another. There is hardly any movement, a neighbor who takes the dog for a walk and little else. Many houses are uninhabited, others are owned by the bad bank, pure Spain of the swimming pools. In one of these communities, some neighbors discuss – between home greenhouses, rainwater harvesting systems and a paddle tennis court full of chickens – what to do in the face of a new threat, a group of children installed beyond the limit of their property, across the field, in the ruins of an institute that was never built. The location is real, the argument and the characterization of the place correspond to the third chapter of Blackout, Movistar + original series produced by Buendía Estudios and one of the platform’s bets for 2022. “We comb Guadalajara and Toledo looking for just the location, size, middle class, that everything is credible”, says Fran Araújo, screenwriter and responsible for coordinating the story throughout its five installments.
In the first chapter of this series that has as its starting point The great blackout (Sound fiction from Podium Podcast) disaster occurs, the blackout, the end of the world as we knew it; in the second comes acceptance; in which we are concerned, the third, the organization for survival. Directed by Rodrigo Sorogoyen (The kingdom, Riot gear), Raúl Arévalo (Late to anger), Isa Campo (The next skin), Alberto Rodríguez (The minimal island) and Isaki Lacuesta (Between two waters), all the stories are original and self-concluding, although there are several aspects that give unity to the series. On the one hand, the art direction, meticulous and credible to the point of obsession –– as can be seen in various details during filming–– and, on the other, the photography, always without artificial lighting. “You never play with the lights at this level. To solve it, we asked ourselves how we could make lights with power just as they would after a blackout “, says Isa Campo about the chapter that he directs and also writes, a story in which children, and their gaze as a group, play a game. key role.
The creators of Blackout they were not interested in the political conspiracy, so in vogue to explain almost anything. Nor in a dystopia full of death and destruction, an impossible future more immersed in science fiction. As a story well anchored in the speculation of the near future, here the idea is to give a little twist, something plausible and therefore terrifying. “The jump to barbarism is not so easy. There is always a limit in that limbo in which the characters are ”, reflects Campo. “We were looking for a concrete look, how to make the local dystopia, not only with universal themes but also making it reach the people. We have developed a recognizable but grounded genre, with very specific stories of highly concentrated characters and locations ”, adds Araújo. Two elements help to achieve this objective: extreme realism and keys for reflection in the plots. “All the chapters seek a resignification of the social aspects they address. It is about finding light in the darkness, a look at the characters ”, explains Araújo.
“When we started it was pure science fiction, we had to explain everything,” says the director during a lunch break when the conversation inevitably comes up with the news, the pandemic, the shortage of supplies, the possibility, even, of a real blackout . Now, the actors are the first to understand everything that happens to the characters. “Not long ago we have lived almost another apocalypse, which has affected people of different ages differently, so filming this one is no longer so strange,” reflects Zoé Arnao (Girls) the young 16-year-old actress who stars in the chapter. “Dystopia doesn’t seem so far away. Now we have another perspective ”, adds Patricia López Arnáiz (Goya 2021 for Ane) who plays the mother, while looking at nails full of dirt that later, they joke, it costs a lot to remove to return to real life, go to a store, relate to the environment, with pandemic normality, yes, but with electricity . They all wear multiple layers of clothing, an element that, next to the fire, constitutes the only defense against the cold of a world without light. “The key is knowing how to ask yourself the questions that you had not asked yourself,” concludes Miquel Fernández (Adú), the father, a character who completes this family trapped in the dynamics of survival.
The work of the five directors and the scriptwriters (Isabel Peña, Alberto Marini and Rafael Cobo, as well as Campo and Araújo) has been somewhat peculiar. Each knew the universe of the others, which increases the sense of unity of the series. “We never wanted watertight cases. We try to favor a collective creation, in which each one contributes with their part ”, explains Araujo.
Stroll with the creators of Blackout the post-apocalyptic scene set up in Valdeluz is both fun and scary. The place is full of gadgets similar to what we should come up with, presumably, if something like this were to happen. “He has a game point. It’s very cool and fun ”, confesses Isa Campo. In the urbanization there are two trees from which the firewood used for decoration is obtained and to feed the fire that illuminates and warms the protagonists in their daily life. They were there when the production team arrived, before filming, and they were going to cut them down because they were rotten, but Araújo and Campo found it the perfect ingredient for their search for verisimilitude.
When they shout “action,” only the voices of the actors are heard, there is no white noise, there is not that continuous run run of daily life, traffic, electrical appliances, telephones and other gadgets. It is a world without light. Beyond the fence, reinforced with wire and bed bases, three looted cars mark the limit with the open field, with the latent threat of children without resources. Inside, the neighbors argue as they have always done, with or without a blackout, with or without a pandemic. An everyday scene after the end of the world, a struggle to keep barbarism, social and interior, at bay.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.