Few outside the cinematographic realm identify his name and, even fewer, would recognize it if they crossed it on the street, but most saw some of his movies. The seven that he filmed in Argentina sold, in the country alone, more than five million tickets, from Cheese face (2006) to The Theft of the Century (2020), going through Childless (2015) and Mom went on a trip (2017). At age 44 Ariel Winograd is on the podium of the highest grossing Argentine directors in activity.
Before each of their premieres, the producers rubbed their hands. On Thursday, January 13, it will hit theaters Today the world is fixed and the expectation should be enormous, even more so considering the immediate antecedent of The theft of the century, which with its more than two million viewers is among the most viewed Argentines in history.
But in these two years, Covid-19 and platforms of streaming through, the audiovisual industry changed. Is still mutating, still with an uncertain destination.
Winograd knows: “Times have changed a lot. One is not waiting for the numbers from before. You have to understand the reality: summer is a good time to debut, but we are going through a complex situation. My theme is that people go to see the movie. Unlike the theater, which exploded when restrictions were lifted, the cinema has been very hit. But it is a place just as safe as the theater: it is important to convey that ”.
Ariel confesses that she does tests among people with the recently filmed material. And if you have to adjust, it adjusts. Photo Juan Manuel Foglia.
This dramatic comedy (“dramedy“, the director defines it) that shows the alliance between a loveless television producer (Leo Sbaraglia) and a baby (Benjamín Otero) to find the biological father of the boy suffered pandemic uncertainty.
“It was going to be released in August 2020, then in Easter 2021 … and now you say ‘No matter the situation, let’s release whatever‘. It’s nice to let go: I’ve been carrying it on my back for a long time. People will like it and recommend it, but I have other expectations than with The theft of the century”.
-It is said that comedy is the most difficult genre, but you only filmed comedies. Why?
-I like it as a spectator and also as a maker, because it allows us to deal with more topics than other genres. I love her because she is noble and sincere: when someone laughs in a movie theater, they are really laughing. Of course, it is very subjective: it is not the same what can cause you, me or another person. But I don’t see myself doing another genre.
“Today the world is fixed”, the film by Ariel Winograd with Leo Sbaraglia and Benjamin Otero.
-Comedies are very subjective, but yours try to cover the largest number of audiences. How much audience testing and focus groups are behind each of your films?
-The processes are very different. In this case, as this movie was finished filming a week before the quarantine began, we did not do the testing that we used to. Which was the following: two weeks after finishing the filming, with a first assembly we showed the material and we answered a questionnaire. Although the film is not finished, the important thing about testing is to feel the pulse of the material you have. In this case we could not do a face-to-face test.
-According to the answers, do you change the movie?
-No, it’s not that we change something because people don’t like it. It works more than anything to perceive the general reception of the film and if something specific is understood. If 50 people tell you that a scene is not understood, it is because it is not understood. Then you work so that it is understood.
-If you have to rethink something, do you do it from editing, do you film again or do you film a new scene?
-I never had to refilm. I never changed an ending, for example. Yes I happened to rethink the montage of a scene. For comedy, montage is essential. And sometimes for two paintings, which looks like nothing, a gag is ruined or saved. It is in this sense that testing works: with this joke I thought that everyone was going to laugh and nobody is laughing, so I see how editing can improve. And there you do a second test to see if that gag is working now. It is a very good tool and I recommend itbut not to remove characters or change an entire movie.
Ariel Winograd with Leo Sbaraglia and Benjamín Otero during the filming of “Today the world is fixed.”
Rooms versus living rooms
Winograd cites Damián Szifron as the maximum national reference (“He is the best director of our generation, the generation before and the generation to come.”), strongly recommends the latest season of Curb Your Enthusiasm (“It is incredible what Larry David is doing at the level of political incorrectness”), although he warns that for some time now he is hardly seeing movie or series premieres, but takes refuge in modern classics such as Good boys or Scarface.
The talk goes back to the modifications in the audiovisual business model: “The cinema went to the side of the platforms, and one has to embrace the changes. We are in a very hinged moment of seeing which way films are still being made, whether it opens in theaters or goes directly to the platform. It is another type of business. It is a time of exploration, of good intentions and of learning ”.
The analysis includes the pros and cons: “There is so much offer that one gets dizzy. Before, a movie was maybe six weeks in theaters and there was something about word of mouth that was missed. Today the conversation about a movie on a platform lasts a maximum of three days. On the other hand, the number of people who see them is impressive. And, as filmmakers, the amount of possibilities that were opened up thanks to streaming It is spectacular. The freedom it gives to be able to work is interesting ”.
Ariel Winograd with Leo Sbaraglia during the filming of “Today the world is fixed”.
Like his films, Winograd is optimistic: “Things are going to settle down over time, and if the pandemic ever happens, even more so. We all want to connect, we all want to see each other. The habit of going to the movies will return”.
-Did you ever say: “The cinema that I make is completely commercial, but absolutely personal as well.” Can you make industrial auteur cinema?
-I think so. It should be clear what we call industrial cinema. Or popular, a word that for cinema in Argentina remained in a low quality place. The projects in which I get involved have popular aspirations, but when they call me to be part of the project I take them personally.
-How is your work with the producers? To what extent do you make decisions?
-Decisions, ideas and proposals end up working closely with the producers. They accompany the way I want to tell at all times. The term “film on demand” is tremendous. A movie is a process of hard work, connection and passion. You live with the movie and you go to sleep with the movie.
“I’m dying to do a comedy with Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, well pochoclera,” Winograd’s word.
-And where is the author in your films?
-When you commit to being part of the project, you think of ideas in all aspects, from the costumes to the location. And it becomes personal. From that place, I do feel that there is something authorial, but always thinking about the objective, which is to entertain.
-Does national cinema usually lose sight of entertainment?
-In the vision of each director there is something genuine. When it comes to the independent film versus commercial film war … Everything is valid. As viewers, we have the power to see it or not.
With Hollywood on the horizon
-Are you proud when someone says your movies like Hollywood?
-Okay, my dream is to make a movie in hollywood. Obviously it makes me proud, yes. Although sometimes it is very easy to pigeonhole things. But if, I’m dying to do a comedy with Seth Rogen, Adam Sandler, well pochoclera. I like it The Wedding Singer (The Best of My Weddings), by Adam Sandler, I still see it and it continues to be funny.
“Today the world is fixed”, the film by Ariel Winograd with Leo Sbaraglia and Charo López.
-Everything goes through expectations.
-If I sit down to watch a romantic comedy, I’m not going to ask for anything other than what a romantic comedy is going to give me. It all has to do with what you want to see and how you stand in front of that content. I want to see movies that make me happy. So I also try to make films that can make the audience happy or generate a pleasant feeling.
-You claim two terms that are generally used disparagingly: “pochoclero” and “crowd pleaser”(Which caters to crowds).
-I wanted my first movie, Cheese faceIt was a cynical, bitter comedy. As time goes by, I realize that I like more to generate emotion. As it is: crowd pleaser. I love to get excited and give the spectacular a chance to get excited. For me the important thing as a director is to be authentic. It does not bother me that they call me pochoclero or hollywoodense, because I am authentic with my desire. I wish that, and I don’t see it as a bad thing.
Reference from clarin