Many international directors working in Hollywood can fall victim to being over-hyped by agents and publicists. There has been plenty of buzz, for example, surrounding Spanish director Luis Berdejo and his first English-language film, The New Daughter, which is produced by Gold Circle Films and stars Kevin Costner.
This time, if development and production executives working on the film are to be believed, the hype is real.
Berdejo, now in his early thirties, came to the attention of Gold Circle's Paul Brooks with his award-winning genre short films ... Ya No Puede Caminar, La Guerra and For(r)est In The Des(s)ert. He also wrote the screenplay to the acclaimed Spanish horror hit (Rec), which premiered at the Venice film festival in 2007 and which Sony Screen Gems is remaking as Quarantine.
'It's very rare where you come across short films that make you think, 'Bloody hell, the film-maker's actually telling a story,'' Brooks says from the South Carolina set of The New Daughter, about a single father who relocates to the countryside and notices strange behaviour in his daughter. 'He has an absolute vision and yet is also delightfully collaborative.' Mandate International commenced pre-sales on The New Daughter at Cannes last month. It finished shooting in April.
For Berdejo, working with Brooks has been an eye-opener as well as the end of a frustrating odyssey to graduate to fully fledged feature director. 'Paul is the easiest man ever to work with ... and gave me a lot of confidence. I heard a lot of stories about working with a big studio but Gold Circle was great. I've been fighting for years against the system in Spain and feel I'm part of something here.
'I'd been trying to make a movie in Spain for six years with little success. Some of the people I dealt with liked my scripts but they blow smoke up your ass and say they want a comedy - but some of us aren't comedy directors,' Berdejo says. 'They're scared of taking a chance on new directors. We're a new generation of talented people who grew up watching US movies rather than Spanish movies. Thanks to this opportunity, I can go back and I will make a movie in Spain.'
That movie will be Jennifer Can, a romantic supernatural tale Berdejo will direct from his own screenplay about 'a man who is trying to run away from beauty in life until he finds somebody who he is unable to run away from'. Shooting on the $3m project will begin in October in San Sebastian for Notro Films, Versus Entertainment and Videntia Frames Producciones.
Adolfo Blanco Lucas, the managing director of Notro, which also holds Spanish rights to The New Daughter, says of Berdejo: 'His talent is amazing and ... everyone in Spain is waiting to see his first directorial work. It's the kind of expectation you only find in established film-makers like Alejandro Amenabar or Alex De La Iglesia.'