THE POOL 2004. PT.16 min

a film by Iana Ferreira & João Viana.

The way in which we cross, one time only, the space of a public swimming pool reminds us of life, from birth until the end.

Interview with Iana Ferreira as part of AIPCINE's series of interviews “Um DF, Um Filme”.

A Piscina is a short film co-directed by me and João Viana and my role was fundamentally the visual conception of the project. Everything to do with directing the actors and the concept itself was João Viana's.

The idea of the film was to be set in a space that was half idyllic, half wonderful. This idea of the swimming pool being a good place to be but at the same time being a bit decadent or at least having decadent parts, which in the end would make you think about what that space is. There's also the exterior that you see at the beginning of the film, where there's, let's call it, the real world, where there's the shepherd, a passing motorcycle and so on.

The idea was always the journey, to discover the various aspects of this space and what it could possibly mean. Right from the start, it was designed to be a sequential plan, which was the most fundamental part for me because it was a huge challenge and one that was a lot of fun. In reality, at the moment of making it and after filming, you think - wow, you've even managed, better or worse, to make this whole journey.

The film took a long time to prepare from a conceptual point of view because, although it has a beginning and an end shot that correspond to the beginning and end of the film, the whole part where something happens in the film is a sequence shot, so there was a lot of preparation to define what was going to be filmed. Everything had to be ready at the time of filming because you couldn't really take scenes out or put them back in, so there was a lot of preparation time.

For the décor itself, we had four days, three of which were rehearsals. The first day was practically just to set up the rails and rehearse some projectors, and see what problems there were. We went to the set several times beforehand, to understand how we were going to film and to get a feel for the movement, but it's clear that when you go to set everything up afterwards, there are a lot of obstacles, from the unevenness of the terrain itself to passing through one place and another that you can't anticipate. We had to prepare the décor in advance with the help of people and even companies. For example, there are parts in the film where the camera is above one of the swimming pools and a scaffolding company had to come and put up a platform so that the crane could pass over it. The whole shot is done with a crane. So the first day was to understand the questions and how we could make all those ideas feasible, and then two days were rehearsals, which were done progressively with more people. I say people because at the beginning we only had a few stand-ins to move around and little by little the main actors started arriving for us to rehearse with. Then more appearances started to come in and the actual appearances that are in the footage only arrived on the same day.

And we rehearsed. We filmed outside the pool and then we had to move inside, because the camera went in and out of the water and during the rehearsal days we couldn't rehearse everything at once because the indoor pool was operating with classes during the day, so we rehearsed everything outside because it was April and the outdoor pool wasn't operational yet and then, from the end of the afternoon, they let us in and we set up the rest of the rails. On the day of the shoot, we had everything to ourselves.

We had to film everything in the morning because from lunchtime onwards the shadow of the crane entered the field and so we knew we had to have the shot by 12:30pm or so.

The film was subsidized and when we finally realized that we could go ahead with the project, I started meeting with Zé Tiago from Planar very early on and talking to the driver. The conductor, Carlos Santos, was fundamental to this film, because it was he and his team who guided the movement and kept the pace. I started meeting with Zé Tiago, on the one hand, to try to explore the proposals I had and the possibilities of how we were going to do this thing of having a camera that moved around a whole space and that could see a lot of things and that also went into the water and came back out and continued filming. It was supposed to be filmed in 35mm but because of the issue of the camera going into the water, it had to be in 16mm and then a blow-up was made. This was at a time when cinemas were still projecting in 35mm. It was filmed in 16mm because there was no way of having a scuba, an underwater protection for 35mm, 300 meters, because the original shot is between 10 and 11 minutes long and so we had to go to 16mm to have a scuba with the 120 meters that was necessary to be able to film. We had 6 cans of 120 and we started the shot six times, but two of those times, the shot was cut and every time the shot was cut, it meant starting all over again from scratch and changing the reel. João had a stopwatch and everyone on the team was very aware of the times that were needed, because one of the dangers was getting to the end and finishing the film if we were late.

The conversations started very early on with Carlos Santos because without the driver this film wouldn't have been made, there was no chance. There were several conversations with him about whether it would be someone with a steadicam making the journey, whether it would be a crane, whether it would be with a hand-held camera. There was also the question that I would like to do the camera so, in fact, from a technical point of view it had to be done like this - a crane, a hot head (remote controlled) underwater and with the camera protected with a scuba.

The other person who joined very early on was Rosarinho, from closet. Very early on, we started looking at materials and possibilities, she would come up with proposals for what the swimsuits could look like, which were all made especially for the film. We would do tests, take samples of the cloths, dive into a pool and take pictures to see how the colors would work underwater, since many of the people don't actually go underwater, but to decide which color was ideal for the people who were going to be underwater and for the main character.

Another essential department was construction and props, which brought a lot of possibilities that the pool alone didn't offer. There were lots of things to be assembled, there were parts of the décor that were furniture that moved during the shot itself. From the team's point of view, this is clearly a film in which the team was there, very concentrated, and everyone was fundamental, everyone contributed immensely and without these contributions there would have been no chance of making this film.

I think the good thing, and nowadays this is much more possible, is to experiment. You don't want to be a perfectionist straight away. I say this because when I started out, I always thought I could only do things when I was sure I could do them very well and that's not how you gain experience. So it's a lot of experimenting, and one part that I think is very important is also having a sense of enjoyment. It's often very costly, in fact it tends to be very costly and laborious, but there's a pleasure in doing it that you sometimes forget in the middle of work and then have to remind yourself - this is what I like, this is what I want to do.