Clara Roquet is the co-writer for the film 10,000 km, a Spanish feature directed by Carlos Marques-Marcet. Clara, an MFA student at Columbia University, wrote the film alongside Marques before moving to the U.S. to attend school to concentrate on screenwriting. 10,000 km features just two on-screen characters: Sergio, played by Spanish theater star David Verdaguer and Alexandra, played by Natalia Tena, known for roles as Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter Films and Osha in Game of Thrones. When Alexandra receives the opportunity to leave Barcelona to live in Los Angeles for a year, she and Sergio commit to a long-distance relationship, relying on technology to keep their relationship afloat.
Clara discusses her influences in screenwriting the film 10,000 km, how technology has affected relationships, and what the American Dream means to her.
Q: I read that the film is based partially on the director’s long-distance relationship. When writing his, did you use any of your experiences or the experiences of others?
CLARA: It was both, it was very combined. It was also the experiences of a lot of friends of ours who are in long-distance relationships; we’re stealing from them. Also, I got my scholarship to leave to go study at Columbia when I was writing the film in Spain. In a way, I was living the same as her character (Natalia plays), when she gets the scholarship and decides to leave. So I was going through the same process.
Q: Long-distance relationships are usually hard. What makes the audience want to see the couple stay together (or not)?
CLARA: I think you care about them, especially because there’s a 22-minute one-take in the beginning that’s the first act of the film. You see in real-time a morning with this couple and you realize they’re a team and really love each other. It has a lot to do with themes of real love, and not the romantic love that Hollywood has showed us many times. Not looking perfect, and not having these funny lines all the time.
It’s about having daily routines, and having this rhythm. Since we are with them, and since we understand how much we care about each other, we care about them. They also began the film with a very solid commitment to go through this together. I think we want them to succeed at this.
“It has a lot to do with themes of real love, and not the romantic love that Hollywood has showed us many times”
Q: Other films like Catfish or Her have explored technology and relationships in film. How do you think Facetime, Skype, and all those other applications have changed relationships?
CLARA: I think that more than the technology, is the way we live right now, that have changed relationships. Technology is kind of the answer to that. I think technology enables us to have these kind of relationships. By shortening some distances it creates new distances. Seeing someone, but not being able to touch them. For example, if we’re talking on the phone or writing letters, there’s a lot left to the imagination. But on Skype, you see the pixels, and it’s usually not very beautiful, and not very romantic. This is a new way of having a relationship that didn’t exist before. I think it’s very interesting to talk about.
I know a lot of filmmakers who are romantic, and want to show screens and technology, but I think it’s stupid. We have to talk about it. It’s our new challenge, it’s our generation. It’s not very pretty to show screens, and screens, and screens. But I think our Director of Photography made it pretty in this film, which is something I find great. It’s a huge challenge.
Q: I read that this was your first feature film, as a screenwriter. What did you learn during this process that you’re going to apply to your next film or project?
CLARA: I learned it’s very important to know and care about your relationships, especially in a film like this. It’s about human relationships, and if there are only two characters, you have to know them deep inside. At the end, they’re built from your experiences and from the experiences of your friends. I learned a lot from the Director, Carlos Marques, who’s one of the most talented young directors there is.
He knows so much about cinema and is such a cinephile, that part of my learning came from him. He has great references; he made me watch all these films; he guided me through this process. He trusted me which was great. I’m mostly thankful because it’s so hard to give people their first opportunity. You don’t know if it’s going to work out or not. I always thank him for that, he was very brave. There should be more people like that.
“On Skype, you see the pixels, and it’s usually not very beautiful, and not very romantic. This is a new way of having a relationship that didn’t exist before”
Q: What type of movies or films did you have to watch? What other materials did he give you?
CLARA: I don’t know this is a secret, but one of the main references an Italian film called I fidanzati by Ermanno Olmi, which is a really good film. Most of them are European Films. We also watched Two for the Road, with Audrey Hepburn. We watched Kramer vs. Kramer. All these films have these intimacy, and explorations of human relationships. Relationships seem simple but are very complex.
“I’m mostly thankful because it’s so hard to give people their first opportunity. You don’t know if it’s going to work out or not. I always thank him for that, he was very brave. There should be more people like that”
Q: Since you’re still a student, is it difficult your university commitments with your commitments to the film? You do screenings and interview like this one. How of much your life is this at the moment?
CLARA: A very small part, actually. I usually don’t do interviews. It’s mostly the actor and the directors. I’ve done some, but it hasn’t become a problem for my daily life. Trying to devote all my time to school. Columbia is a great film school and I’m learning so much, and I want to take advantage of everything. I think after I’ll have time to go and write. I’m kind of privileged with this time to devote to myself and learning.
Q: I read a post on Bloguionistas where you talked about the American Dream and you said that you wanted to see the world. Do you feel like coming to the US and studying in New York, do you still believe in that? Have you accomplished part of that yet?
CLARA: It’s kind of an ironic title. What that article was saying, that there’s this possibility, but it’s not the only possibility. It has more to do with going to a place, where the best people can teach you and being willing to work really hard. And then maybe staying, maybe going back. It’s funny when I think about cinema, about Hollywood, I don’t like New York in some ways. That’s not the reality of what most people making films. I have so many friends going to these fancy hotels for screenings and stuff, and can’t pay rent. There’s this imbalance in this world, it’s very glamorous, but at the time, I’m not making enough money to… you know? It’s weird. (laughs)
“That’s not the reality of what most people making films. I have so many friends going to these fancy hotels for screenings and stuff, and can’t pay rent”
Q: Where will you be in five days, five months and five years?
CLARA: In five days I’m probably going to be in front of my computer on my couch, writing like a crazy person, because I missed some days of work. In five years I have no idea.
Q: What about five months?
CLARA: Oh, that is much easier! In five months I’m going to be in Spain probably, directed my short film. In five years I have no idea. And I really don’t want to know if that makes sense. I hope I’m going to be writing.
Q: If you had the option for someone to tell you what you would be doing in five years, would you take it?
CLARA: No, that would be so boring!
Thanks Clara for the interview! Be sure to follow Clara on Twitter to stay updated on her latest film-making moves!