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The Spanish-language comedy ‘Casa de mi Padre’, starring Will Ferrell, shot for 22 days in such locations as Simi Valley, CA, Chatsworth, CA & Hollywood CA. Director Matt Piedmont and his cinematographer Ramsey Nickell employed a classic widescreen, using anamorphic lenses, and aimed for a rich, classic composition – with a few pops of deliberately bad production values played for laughs.
A more subtle subversion of film conventions in ‘Casa de mi Padre’ is tonal – within this very funny film is a powerful message about drug trafficking between the United States and Mexico.
“I knew I wanted that combination of action and romance that is classic Hollywood movie making. I also knew I wanted to use the drug problem in Mexico and this country as a catalyst for all of the action. My research consisted of watching a ton of 70s, 80s and 90s Mexican movies and my reading obsession with the ‘war on drugs,’ as we call it in this country. Our inability to point the finger of blame in this war at our own consumption just baffles me to no end,” Steele comments.
It was, in fact, this funny but serious commentary on the “war on drugs” that especially appealed to Diego Luna.
“Will, Matt and Andrew definitely had a point of view (about the drug war). And I love that because their comedy is full of context and a point of view. Otherwise it just is a laugh that you forget the next day. But the film does have a soul and wants to say something and takes a position on something that is actually happening.
Normally in the States they seem to see the drug trafficking as a Mexican issue, a thing that happens over there, south of the border. What I like about the film is that it makes a comment that the drug war is one that we share – a drug war is happening because there is a market for it. The film says it quite clearly.
And I think it is a film that has layers – it’s a funny film but behind the comedy you can realize that it is making a comment. It’s interesting how film can make a reflection and promote a debate. That’s also why I accepted. I wanted to work with Will and I admire his work a lot but I also felt that this was the right time to do it because of what it says,” Luna says.
Financier from NALA Films, Darlene Caamaño Loquet adds that ‘Casa de mi Padre’ manages to combine its sociocultural point with deft humor.
“I think what the movie does effectively is show how easy it can be to say, ‘it’s all them, they are bad,’ without looking at ourselves and realizing we are all in this together. Together we can screw it up and together we can fix it. And it does this all while cracking us up,” she says.
Piedmont hopes that the many different aspects that define ‘Casa de mi Padre’ – comedy, romance, action, satire, social commentary – contribute to its unique, quirky and hilarious charm.
“I describe ‘Casa de mi Padre’ as a ‘real’ movie that is also funny but has dramatic shoot-outs, violence and true romance. It’s not what you think it is yet it’s a party that everyone is invited to. There are layers upon layers of cinematic references. If you know them, you will enjoy them, but if you don’t you will still enjoy the movie on its own.
I would also say it’s a comment on the failed drug policies of the US and delivers that in a comic, visually satisfying way that is not ham-fisted. I mostly hope that people come out of the theater and say, ‘Man, that was really entertaining and original. Now let’s go get a drink and talk about it,’” Piedmont sums up.
Caamaño Loquet notes that ‘Casa de mi Padre’ proves that comedy is truly a universal language and the team behind the movie are definitely fluent speakers.
“To experience what Andrew did in making what’s funny in English, be just as funny in Spanish was truly inspiring. I mean the guy doesn’t speak a lick of Spanish and yet he totally understood the cultural nuances that needed to be addressed in the translation of humor. Going from hearing Matt’s vision for the film to actually seeing him direct was both exhilarating and powerful. He made me realize that some people are actually really born to direct.
The very first time I sat in a theater on the opening weekend of ‘Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,’ half way through the film I turned to my husband and said, ‘I have to work with these guys.’ To work with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and their team at Gary Sanchez actually was a dream come true.
To experience Will Ferrell transform into “Armando Alvarez” on that set every day was mind blowing and something that will always be a highlight in my career. These guys are pure class and brilliance, I feel blessed to be a part of something with them all.”
Piedmont adds, “Darlene and Emilio have set up a situation at NALA that really is a filmmaker’s dream—they’re smart, passionate, film-literate producers who ask the right questions and are interested in what is best for the film itself. As the same time they really are good people, so it’s a combo that I found to be perfect.”
Image Courtesy of Casa de mi Padre