Back story please. Let’s start with the name. Pau Suris and Pau Dalmases become the directing duo Pen$acola, which when we googled came up as a beach town in Florida. Is there any connection? Is the $ symbol simply wishful thinking?
At the beginning everything started kind of like a joke. A friend from Barcelona told us this name, it sounded superexotic for her but also fun, so we went for it. The $ sign was also purely for fun. We are now working with Folch Studio on a new, less naïve and more thoughtful logo that will comprise what Pensacola means for us – something new, fun and unexpected:
How did you two meet and when did you decide to work as filmmakers together?
That’s a pretty bizarre story: we met in a prospective US students event in Spain and we started chatting about films, we connected quite quickly. We moved to NYC to study different things and started collaborating in several projects for us and for friends with no budget at all. Everything started to get serious when, during the days of Hurricane Sandy in NY we conceived and shot the 10.deep commercial for a class.
Do you have different skills that compliment each other or do you work simultaneously together on each stage of creating a film? Please tell us about your creative process.
When we started we used to do everything together, we did the treatments together and then split in two units to shoot. Nowadays, as more projects come along, we sometimes split to develop ideas and then discuss them and make them grow together afterwards.
Most of the process is discussed at every stage. We normally start by brainstorming the basic idea and then build up with VFX, on camera tricks… As we have been doing more jobs, we’ve tried to learn as much from the artists, clients and collaborators who we have been working with.
As of now, we want to have strong concepts to develop, as much narrative as possible, and build up from there. There are many skills that complement each other, but the most important thing is that we really push each other to find new ideas, to surprise ourselves in every single project we do. Also, Sasha Nixon, executive producer at FOREVER and Oscar Romagosa, executive producer at CANADA, have guided us and pushed us to find our best ideas.
Where does your love and knowledge of VFX come from? What programs do you like working in?
To be sincere we’ve always wanted to do things people had not seen before, we tried to innovate in everything we do and not be repetitive. We have always admired the capacity to create on camera effects and VFX transitions in directors such as MEGAFORCE and CANADA. We also love photography and many times we see pictures, paintings or sculptures and we think how cool would it be to see that in a video, as a moving image. Once you try to figure out how something is done, you start trying to do it and this always brings you to discover new techniques and ways to explore. This is the origin of our love for VFX.
Whichever program can be used to shape what we have in mind, we will use. Lately we have been able to work and collaborate with great talents of VFX like Alvaro Posadas (who does a lot of post for CANADA) and Lewis Kyle White, who worked with us on our BBC Radio One spot shot in London this summer, through Forever.
Actually your VFX work has increasingly become more restrained – say from your earlier video work for Mind Enterprises’ track My Girl and the 10.Deep commercial – to this latest film for Opening Ceremony which involves more live action albeit still with your signature effects twists. Was this decision in response to the brief? And what was the original brief?
When we had the first meetings with the OC guys, they told us they wanted to go for something fun and innocent. We came up with some iconic vignettes that recalled Elvis, which is the theme of the collection. We try to make proposals that are coherent with what we want and what the brand needs, and we don’t think this time VFX made sense. For this one we wanted all the effects to happen on camera, trying to create, simple and stylized iconic images. We hope to keep incorporating new effects into more narrative stories in the next projects.
Any major challenges filming and making the OC film?
We shot everything in Barcelona, which is a really rare thing for OC. We are really happy they agreed to do it, since we had the chance to work with a super talented and young crew in this project. The challenges were few, everything was super smooth, but the heat was really quite something: we shot really cute models in thick winter coats in Barcelona, on the top floor of a building and no AC… We are really happy with this video and hope to do another soon again.
So two Spanish guys based in New York direct an English establishment – the BBC – film for Radio 1. Were you given creative carte blanche on this? Were any of your ideas restrained by the client? Was it straight forward creating this or were there a few headaches?
BBC Radio 1 was a very good project for us. Simon and Steve from Karmarama had seen our video for Chvrches and they loved some of the effects. It was a very pleasant process working with them. They had some ideas on what did they want, something not narrative and surprising, who would blow up people’s mind when they saw it. Everyone on the team pushed hard to make it happen, and Sasha from Forever was able to push hard to get everything we needed. Headaches came later when we were dealing with very short timings to do drawings frame by frame, but everyone in the team pushed hard to make it happen and now we mostly remember the fun moments!
Where are you based and what are you up to now?
We are just finishing the graduate film program at NYU so we are currently based in NYC, but we love to move around and live in different cities to shoot.
Right now we are really excited to be pitching for several projects and on the side, Pau S. is finishing to write a comedy short film about superheroes, while Pau D. is trying to figure out the meaning of true love.