Cult Spanish director Alex De La Iglesia follows the success of his Silver Lion winning film The Last Circus with this dark film starring Salma Hayek, which was blacklisted for five years before being rescued by Spanish producer Andres Vicente Gomez.
Synopsis: An out of work publicist has a nasty fall, impaling himself on a pole, which attracts a lot of media attention, and allows him to re-unite with his wife and son, and help support them financially as he lies dying.
Director: Alex De La Iglesia
Writers: Randy Feldman, Alex De La Iglesia
Producers: Andres Vicente Gomez
Cast: Salma Hayek, Jose Mota, Blanca Portillo, Antonio Garrido, Santiago Segura, Carolina Bang
Financing: La Fabrique 2, Al Fresco Enterprises, ICAA subsidies, TVE, Canal +, pre-sales
Countries Of Production: Spain, France, US
Completion date: End of 2011
The dark nature of As Luck Would Have It (La Chispa De La Vida) meant the project was blacklisted, rejected by several leading US companies, before falling into the hands of renowned Spanish producer Andres Vicente Gomez and cult film maker Alex De La Iglesia.
The script was originally written in English by Randy Feldman, best know for his work on Tango & Cash, and developed by former DC Comics president Jenette Kahn and ex Motion Picture Corp executive Adam Richman. But after they had received several rejections, it was Gomez who stepped in and offered to turn it into a Spain set project.
“I thought it was a great script and that its dark, comedic nature would be appreciated here in Spain,” says Gomez, who is producing the film through Valencian outfit TriVision and Madrid based Al Fresco Enterprises.
The fact that the story centres around a man impaling himself on a pole was a key reason why no one wanted to touch the script for so long. So the first thing Gomez had to do was find a star for the main role who would appeal to the TV stations so that they would help fund the project. “I immediately thought of Jose Mota because he is a huge TV star and so the broadcasters couldn’t refuse,” says Gomez, who as a result managed to get both TVE and Canal + onboard.
With the star attached, Gomez turned to the task of finding the right director for the project. He had in mind Spanish greats De La Iglesia, Fernando Trueba and Carlos Saura.
“I sent Alex [De La Iglesia] the script at 4pm and told him he had 24 hours to come back with an answer, or I’d turn to someone else,” explains Gomez. “Later that night, Alex said he loved the script and the star and would be happy to do it.”
Taking a brief break from the shoot, De La Iglesia explains, “I thought it sounded great and decided to stick with the original story, but instead of it being set in a building, I moved it to this more impressive setting.” He gestures towards the stunning Roman amphitheatre in Cartagena, Spain, that is the main backdrop for the film, and was only discovered by accident 10 years ago in incredible condition.
Sitting alongside De La Iglesia on the set is Franck Ribiere and Verane Frediani of French outfit La Fabrique 2 who also decided to join the project as financial co-producers, having worked with De La Iglesia on The Last Circus and The Oxford Murders.
“We loved the script and thought it would make a great mix of Spanish and French input,” says Ribiere. “It is dark, but also funny and emotional and we think it is great what Alex is doing with the ambience of the film.”
Shooting is taking place between February and April at both the amphitheatre in Cartagena and in Madrid, including inside the glass tower, which dominates the Spanish capital skyline.
Supporting Mota in the cast are some familiar names, including Salma Hayek, Santiago Segura, who is currently enjoying huge success in Spain with his film Torrente 4, and Pedro Almodovar favourite Blanca Portillo.
The film’s $7m (€5m) budget has been broken down between Spanish and French national subsidies, TV rights bought by TVE and Canal +, 20% equity from La Fabrique 2, and a large number of pre-sales made by the producers (no sales agent is attached yet), including to SND for France, Filmauro for Italy and Ledafilms for distribution in Latin America.
As Luck Would Have It is expected to be completed by the end of this year, and the producers will be promoting the project with stills from the set at Cannes in May.
Next up: Andres Vicente Gomez is in development on an English-language thriller called The Dark Door, through his company Lolafilms, which is based on a best-selling trilogy of novels by David Lozano. The first book called The Traveller (El Viajero) sees a 16-year-old Spanish kid living in Paris arrive at a Halloween party with friends only to enter the world of the dead through a Dark Door. The other two books The Evil (El Mal) and Requiem are a continuation of his journeys. French outfit Cinema Art is co-producing.