Friday, December 3, 2021


A salute to everyone reading this interview. To Return to the 90's when cinemas were the recint where our imagination could fly off watching the renaissance of sci fi movies or be frightened by the monsters or killers from horror movies and sometimes drop out a shy tear watching the drama or comedy stories, all that and more represented the cinemas back in the 90's, time where THE LAST MATINEE takes place, a story about that, vivid experiences in a cinema, but in this particular movie that "vivid" experiences gets another level, a too real level. The movies tells the story of a hooded serial killer that gets in a cinema and inside of it unleashes all his evil and commit a serie of murders all this meanwhile a group of teenagers trying to escape from him.

This uruguayan Movie is directed by MAXI CONTENTI, and I had the chance to cha with him about the behind of the movie making, the methods, the techniques, the obstacles, the disillusions, the happiness, the doubts, all those "normal" sensations when approaching the building up of a movie. MAXI CONTENTI is from uruguay and from a very young age he knew he wanted to be in the film industry and become a great movie director.

THE LAST MATINEE was released on August 24,21 on VOD and Digital by Dark Star Pictures, but since December first you can watch it on ARROW, you can check out HERE. Come out! Scrowl down and read a worthy interview where newbie filmmakers out there can learn a lot from MAXI and his experience. 

EFF: Hello Maxi and thanks for allowing me chat with you and take a few of your free time out to answer these questions, really. Tell us where are you from and how did you know that filmmaking would be your passion?

MC: Hi! I’m from Montevideo, Uruguay. My passion for filmmaking started quite early. My first approach was with an Aunt of mine, whom I affectionately baptized my “Movie Aunt". I watched a lot of movies with her and started filming home videos. My father also got me close to fantasy and sci-fi genre cinema and my mother was always very supporting of my artistic endeavors.

It all begin in 1993 (the year The Last Matinee takes place), at age 9, coming out from watching Jurassic Park at a Montevideo cinema.  I already had started playing around with my father vhs camera, filming little movies with my brother. But that moment com-ing out of the cinema marked me. I wanted to make and replicate that, I was very at-tracted to the communal experience, the cinema as a spectacle, the fantasy and magic that were possible. On the side of my taste for terror, that came from watching horror movies on television since I was a kid.

EFF: What do you think about the filmmaking level in Uruguay now? Is it moving for-ward or do you think it has stayed still?

MC: Moving forward a lot! Lots of new things in development and the industry is grow-ing little by little.  Due to us been lucky with the pandemic, Uruguay had a big boost of production services, so there’s a growing international interest in producing in Uru-guay. Still there’s a lot to work on, especially in the film funding area. There has to be more funding (it has grown a bit too) and it needs to be more open minded to support all kind of films (especially genre fantasy films).
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EFF: This blog is aimed at newbie filmmakers, so my questions are targeted to that sub-ject. Tell us about THE LAST MATINEE story creation. When or how the story came up to you?

MC: Years ago I was shooting a commercial in the cinema theater where we shot the movie, and got inspired by the location. The movie idea came from the cinema itself.

EFF: According to the credits, the writer was Manuel Facal, but tell us, how long did it take to complete the script making? How many drafts were taken before the definite one? Would you tell us if you and Facal had any creating wall while writing it and how did you overcome it out?

MC: Sometime after I had the idea for the film, I propose Manuel to write a script. We went to the location to check around, thought about the story plot and inspirations. He then went on to write a first draft. After a second draft I did the rest of the rewrites my-self. Mostly I had to rewrite due to production limitations, but I think those limitations pushed me to improve story, scenes and characters.

EFF: Would you tell us how the project timeline was? I mean, Did you have to find pro-ducers? Or they contacted you? Explain to us a little bit about it, please.

MC: I started alone as producer-director. After the first two years of developing and ris-ing some film funding, I got 2 producers on my team and an Argentinean co-producer. All in all it took around a year for the script, 3 years to secure financing and shoot, and then another year of release and distribution. Almost 5 years in total.

EFF: The movie theme and the style, a director usually have it in the mind since the very beginning. The movie, obviously is a homage to the giallo movies, well,   at least to me it is that way. Why did you decide to stamp a giallo style in this film and precisely, what films and directors you took some marks out and put it on the movie?

MC: Yes, it takes mostly a giallo “scent” and stylistic mood. We had Lamberto Bava’s Demoni as a reference point. But the movie is also very much inspired by many other genres and films. I always conceived it as a “horror adventure”, there’s a big mix of  Hitchcock, Spielberg, Carpenter, Kubrick vibes (and many more) all over it. Also it takes a lot of cues from 80s and especially 90s slashers like “Urban Legend” or “I know what you did last summer”.

I have so many role models and I’m really bad pointing out and making lists… but to name a few others that always inspire me (directors) : Terry Gilliam, P.T Anderson, Joe Dante, Chris Columbus, Luc Besson, Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Leone, Tim Burton, Robert Zemeckis,  Sam Raimi, the Wachowskis and the Coen Brothers.
Maxi Contenti

EFF: Let's talk about the shooting stage. How did you approach it, I mean, for example, did you make storyboards, how did you set up the scenes, according the budget what things you tried to highlight more than others? 

MC: Yes, I did storyboarding, but only for specific scenes, basically all the kills. Those scenes needed more preparation, I wanted them to be very stylized so I had to pre-visualize. The rest, I did a roughly technical script with a shooting list. But it was very loosely made, and I had to think on my feet anyways. When you are shooting on loca-tion you have to adapt a lot, and I like that.

EFF: What were those setbacks you faced off during the shooting of this movie and how did you overcome them out?

MC: Time is always against you when you are shooting, in these case maybe more. It was supposed to be a 33-day shot, and we had 24 and half days due to budget. So, I was always racing against that and compromising the vision of the film looking for so-lutions to what I had in mind. For this I worked very close with my DOP Benji Silva, in resolving the scenes with less set ups, taking a minimalistic approach.
The Last Matinee

EFF: How many days lasted the movie shooting and what date?

MC: 24 days principal photography in July 2019 and 1 day studio shoot with a small crew for close ups 3 months later.

EFF: Maxi, how did you handle the actors' management? Starting from casting, what things were you looking for in your actors and when shooting how did you manage the actor’s instructions?

MC: I had a few roles in mind, which just came to me. The role of the Killer by Ricardo Islas was like a calling after reading the script, it simply manifested that it had to be him. With the lead character Ana, I got to know Luciana Grasso from Argentina film col-leagues. I saw her in an Argentinean film called “Terror 5”. We met, she showed me her work reel, and that was it, she was Ana.

With the rest, it was almost all casting. Except for a few actors I knew from working around in Uruguay, Emmanuel Sobre, Pedro Duarte and Patricia Porzio. Still I did some casting and tests with them. With the rest of the cast I was very lucky I think. Some like Julieta Spinelli and Franco Duran where truly a joy to discover. A couple of actors had to drop out, but I was actually very glad that happen because it led to better choices.

I’m very visually driven when it comes to characters. Its a cool quality and also a handi-cap if you are not careful. You can get the image in your mind right and miss a better performance. In a few cases I had to deal with that, but I was very pleased with the re-sult anyways. As for shooting. We had very little rehearsals a week before starting out. So, we really jumped into action. I’m fine with that, in this project in particular it was fine (and I was lucky that it worked out), but I do believe you need more rehearsing for other projects.

EFF: The color plays a key part in Giallo movies, hence, in your movie also. How it was your work relationship with your crew? For example, DOP, to get that specific ambient in your movie?

MC: We worked very closely. We did a bit of testing, but mostly talking and looking around for references. But it’s all credit of DOP Benji Silva. He totally got me, almost telepathically and he pushed those visuals and colors even more, I was actually a bit hesitant in a few choices at first, to be so colorful. I’m glad I went along at the end.

EFF: Tell us a little bit about the practical effects, The killing scenes…

MC: They were all made on camera, and they are the work of the great FX director Christian Gruaz and his team.  I was actually quite amazed that we could do everything practical. It’s harder, but the results are worth it. We did some tests, but once you are shooting, you are face with the fact that you have three takes at the most to get it right (for the big effects). Because everything gets messy and resetting a practical effect is very time consuming. Getting it right (on a budget) is a matter of professionalism and a bit of luck too. After that, you work with what you got.
Maxi Contenti

EFF: What camera did you use in the film and why?

MC: ARRI AMIRA  and ARRI ULTRA PRIME LENS. It was the cameras, gear and lenses we had available due to our argentinan co-producer Pensa&Rocca. I loved working with that Arri (a lightweight Alexa) and those Ultra primes. 

In our lens kit we had a peculiar lens, a 32mm. Its a sort of midpoint between a wide and a close up lens. It ended up being the lens of the film.

EFF: You had your international release this year, how have you felt the audience re-ception?

MC: Yes. Through the internet mostly (like everything today). I can feel the movie is connecting worldwide. I read a lot of the general audience critics, I’m very happy about it.

EFF: As an indie filmmaker and taking in consideration the low budget usually an in-die horror film can get, what is the most important thing an indie director needs to have in consideration when filming a horror movie?

MC: It needs to be faithful to the genre you embark on. If you are doing horror, you have to deliver in that aspect and it needs to be honest. Don’t sugarcoat anything. Last-ly, any budget (or no-budget) film is not contradictory for quality. You can always deliv-er something to your audience with what you got. Be mindful, work around creatively on your limitations, always aim for the best.
The Laste Matinee BTS

EFF: Any anecdote from the shooting?

MC: Yes, Like any decent shoot, we also had our mishaps. It was a freezing winter in July (2019), many got sick and the plague spread throughout the team (I got lucky and save me). A very tiring night week in another location (the Opera Cinema), where in that cinema, still in operation, we had to be alerting people who passed by not to step on the pool of blood or call the police because they saw a dead man (dummy) at the exit. All special effects works was 100% hands-on and shot on camera. That makes the result very satisfactory, but achieving it is extremely hard, it requires a lot of time, a mis-take can cost you hours to shoot, and like a good horror movie, everything gets dirty, a lot.

EFF: Would you tell to newbies filmmaking about the pitching process? What advice would you give to people when are trying to sell and idea?

MC: I hate doing pitches.  I much prefer shooting something, like a teaser or a scene, a proof of concept. Doing a good dossier presentation of a project, maybe just have a good storyline to tell around, (and later if there’s interest show the rest). Work on some concept art, previews etc. Fuck pitches (unless you like them).
Maxi Contenti on "The Last Matinee" set

EFF: What advice would you give to those newbie filmmakers based on your experience, I mean, during pre, production or post, any advice is gold.

MC: Don’t get too fixed on your ideas, even your best ones. You are going to encounter lots of obstacles in your way, you have to be prepared to adapt. Better things can come from not getting what you wanted in the first place. Have a clear vision for your movie and be able to drive that vision around in a flexible manner. It will give you more re-wards and less frustrations. Also, be ready to work for a very long time on your projects. Making movies is like running a marathon, not a sprint.

EFF: How have you lived this pandemic? Personally, Professionally…

MC: It’s been very weird, for all. We finished the post production during the pandemic. Later on, there was a lot of emotion because The Last Matinee was the film in charge of re-opening theaters in my country Uruguay. It was a very beautiful symbolic and his-torical act. But there was also a lot of anxiety and uncertainty about the situation (We didn’t have a “normal” premiere either). The option to delay everything came up, as there were also festivals we wanted to participate that were canceled or postponed.

Undoubtedly, things change, and streaming is where the public is today more than ev-er. I take a phrase from a German festival (HARD LINE FILM FEST) programmers, who made me notice that the film "will bring the experience of going to the cinema to the home" when it’s seen through stream.

EFF: Are you a horror fan? What movies do you like most?

MC: I am! I actually did a list for letterboxd of the horror films that traumatized my child-hood, here:

EFF: What new projects are you working on now, anything you can anticipate us now? 

MC: I have several projects in different stages of development. Over time I learned that it is good to move more than one thing (not to put all your eggs in one basket), since the processes can be very long and cumbersome. It helps you not get frustrated if you walk with only one project.

Of terror I always have some, also drama-comedy and documentary, I am in post-production of a musical documentary “Hot Club de Montevideo”, it’s a very “familiar” doc, about the oldest jazz club in Latin-American (70 years old), my father is a trumpet player, it comes out next year. I’m developing a based on true events comedy-drama titled “Webmasters”, written also together with Manuel Facal.

On the side of the fantasy genre, I took up a family film project I wrote entitled "Tomte", where there are fantastic beings and monsters. Also, I have a fantasy - horror biopic film project about Uruguayan writer Horacio Quiroga. I’m also up for challenges and up to get hired for work in the industry, I’ll love that, I’m developing things in that area but I can’t say much about it yet, and also …ComeOjos: The Last Matinee part II… is in the works.

EFF: Good news, I hope we can watch that film really soon, The Last matinee Part II, would be great. Maxi, if a producer gives you the chance to direct a horror film remake, what would it be and why? 

MC: No clue. I’ll get back to answer once I have the experience

EFF : Would you like to say anything else?

MC: Long live Cinema…and Cinemas

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