We've Got Hollywood Covered

TheWrap’s ShortList Audience Award: Meet ‘Voice Over’ Director Martín Rosete

The 10-minute live-action short film was nominated for a Spanish Academy Award

Hey, Hollywood. Meet Martín Rosete. He may be the next big name in filmmaking.

His visually-stunning 10-minute short film, "Voice Over," was named the Audience Award winner during the TheWrap's "ShortList" Online Film Festival ceremony in Santa Monica on Thursday. The Spanish Academy Award-nominated live-action short weaves together three suspenseful life and death scenarios into one narrative held together by a voice over.

Also read: Sex in an Egyptian Cafe During the Revolution: TheWrap's ShortList Industry Prize Winner

After producing a number of award-winning shorts while studying filmmaking at both the University of Madrid and the New York Film Academy, "Voice Over" is Rosete's most ambitious endeavor yet, which has paid off in more ways than one. 

The 33-year-old filmmaker, who directed 12 commercials in Spain before coming to America, is now represented by William Morris Endeavor. He's preparing to shoot his first feature and editing a feature-length documentary that he began filming five years ago.

Watch his impressive calling card if you haven't done so yet, then find out how he shot it, where he shot it, and what it all means in his Q&A session with TheWrap:

Let's talk about "Voice Over." the visuals were impressive. It's a great demonstration of talent, what was the budget and did you shoot it or was a cinematographer working with you?
My brother [Jose Martín Rosete] is my DP. We are freaks. We like to be working the visual aspect of our productions for a long, long time before we start. You know, like looking for references, drawing the storyboards, and even doing animatics. When we fell in love with the script of "Voice Over," we decided to make it very special. The script was very powerful and we were aware that our visuals and the quality of the photography, and every department, had to be the same level of quality as the story. I was working almost for a year with my brother to make it happen the way it is.

The budget was very tight. We made "Voice Over" in Spain, and I remember that the first budget was 200,000 Euros, but then we couldn't put it together because of the [economic] crisis. In Europe, you can produce short films with subsitities from the government, and at that point the government was cutting everything so at the end of the day, we could put together like 70,000 Euros. We had to shoot it in a very smart way.

Where did you get your hands on the script for "Voice Over?"
This writer from Spain. I loved how he writes and I was looking for something powerful and challenging. He let me read this script and I saw that it was perfect. He let me direct it and I'm really, really thankful for that. I feel that it matched my style totally and I could use my full potential.

It was a really unique film and it balanced four different narratives really well. It was fairly abstract, though, so curious what was the point of the film? What impression were you trying to leave on the audience?
"Voice Over" is about our fears, and essentially our fear in a very specific moment that almost every human being has lived, or is going to live. It is a moment of the first kiss. It's very metaphorical. What are your feelings and your fears in that moment.

Was there some kind of message you wanted the audience to walk away with?
It is basically about after all those tensions and fears. After the first kiss, what is left is relief, because you have faced what you had to face and there is relief, which is why all of the situations are going toward the best resolution possible.

One of the scariest scenes in the short is the underwater scene, because a) drowning is terrifying and you really managed to capture what it feels like to be trapped underwater. b) It looks like the actor was literally drowning during the shoot. How did you shoot that scene? Was it practical or were there CG elements involved?

The good thing about not having a lot of money is that you have to do most of the things for real. If you plan it right, it's going to look much better than if you do it with CGI. Basically, we bought a boat and we put our actor into the ocean with the boat. And obviously, with three divers for security. But basically everything you see is for real. The only thing that is not 100 percent read is the wide shot with the cliff and the boat teetering on the edge. We did a composite. We shot the cliff, the boat, and than the guy.

So did you actually have to make the boat sink?
Yeah. We were shooting at 24 feet of depth and for the last day when we pulled the boat to the bottom, it went to almost 80 feet of depth, so we only had one take for that because the divers told us it could take almost one day to pull the boat out again. So we only had one chance for that one.

Was that your most expensive scene?
Yeah, I would say so. It was the most expensive and most complicated because you don't have a lot of control. When they are down there, I didn't have a monitor because we didn't have room for it in our budget. Before they go down, you explain to everybody 100 times what you need for the scene, and then you just pray that they can and trust that they are getting it.

What was the process of making sure the actor was safe? Did he have some kind of breathing device?
No. He didn't have any tank or anything. We went down, we shot, and then when he ran out of air he went to the surface and we made another take … Most of the time, he was eight meters, or 24 feet, under water. We decided to keep it at that level because we could have problems with the atmosphere and have big issues with his health if we decided to go deeper.

It could be nervewracking to go under water that far with no breathing device. Was your actor nervous about the scene at all?
When I first met the actor he told me he was licensed to dive. He knew how to dive. So at least he knew how to manage, and he had a very close relationship with the divers, so he didn't panic at any point. I think that is the most important thing when you are down there. Also, you have to act, so it is not easy.

Let's talk about your upcoming projects. IMDb says you co-directed a documentary called "Moses."
We have been working on that documentary for five years now. I've been doing that with a friend, another guy who came from Spain on the same scholarship as I did. Five years ago we decided to make a short film with a homeless man as a main character, and he has an amazing life story so we decided to keep shooting his story.

What was the short film that you cast him in?
It is called, "I Wish." My friend's friend wrote it and I directed it. We won some awards, and we even took "Moses" on a plane to Spain to accept one of those awards. So his life has changed a lot since we first met, and I think that's for good, so we are happy with that.

And that's in post-production, right?
We are editing. We still need to shoot two more interviews and a couple more scenes because Moses is in rehab right now. But hopefully in the beginning of 2014 it will be done.

Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
Right now I'm working on several projects at the same time. One of them we want to shoot in the Canary Islands with one of my producers of "Voice Over." It is a thriller called 'Money.' We will shoot it in English with American and British actors. I can not say much more, but we are fine and will be shooting in February or March of 2014.