DirectorNetworkOfficially Selected Alumni Interviews

Rafael López: Lift-Off Filmmaker Interview

After being selected from our First Time Filmmakers Showcase this year, López’s short film “Sisyphus” will screen at Paris Lift-Off Film Festival as part of the Shorts Programme on Monday 30th November at Le Lucernaire. We interviewed director Rafael López to hear a little more on the experimental nature of his film, and the inspirations behind it.

Interview by Sneh Rupra

What inspired you to pursue filmmaking?

First I was expressing myself through sculpture, drawing and stop motion. I then realised I wanted to tell stories in another way. A few years ago I wanted to take the next step and explore the storytelling art through filmmaking, which I felt in love with.


What was the inspiration behind the film Sisyphus?

The idea first came to me when I was reading some Albert Camus, who is favourite author of mine mostly for his work on the absurd. I had for a long time a slightly different idea for an “endless” film, also involving multiple characters played by the same actor. Beside of that grew this desire to tell a story taking place in a forest as a metaphor of the subconscious. After months of complicated scouting location and writing, this story progressively evolved and became “Sisyphus“.

Director López with actor Nathan Topow

How did you go about shooting the film in one shot?

It was a long and complicated process in which we took a long time and thought very hard about how to do it. We took inspiration from past and present filmmakers, like Alfred Hitchcock in his film “The Rope” but also Alejandro Iñárritu in “Birdman” and “The Revenant.” From that we experimented multiple ways during pre-production and post to hide the different cuts based on these examples we had. The cold nature and natural lighting played an important role in the final look of the film since we had to make sure every sequence were matching the previous and following ones in terms of color and light. It was an amazingly rich experience.


The film is very concerned with the personal image one presents to the world – how does this relate to your personal feelings towards presenting your film to the world?

It is very paradoxical since we have to use social media in order for people to know about the film. It proves that even if we make a film to sort of denounce social media, we can’t run from it. Also, the character is based on a part of myself. When people first start using social media, Facebook, the Internet, they put too much out there. The film reflects how I felt about it. The loss of control of my own image is something that bothered me. So I guess in making this film I also have to accept this, in order to communicate my idea to the world.

“Sisyphus” crew on set

What is the most valuable thing you learned making this film which you can take forward with you in future projects?

Making this film taught me a lot in the filmmaking process, from pre-production, planning, rehearsals, and the tight shooting schedule that eventually led to editing, where a lot of work had to be put in. But mainly I would say it’s a whole and the most valuable thing was to see this project become alive due to a perfect teamwork.


Tickets are now on sale for Paris Lift-Off, where Sisyphus will be screening, with López in attendance!