Years ago, Mexican director Elisa Miller developed her second feature film The Pleasure Is Mine in Amsterdam. Now her story of a young couple finding the cracks in their relationship for the first time is coming back to town.
“The film was developed at the Binger writer’s lab in Amsterdam in 2010. That’s kind of long ago, and I rewrote the film completely after that. But it was really good because I met all these other filmmakers, with very different attitudes. It was a really nice group and in a way that was more interesting than the lab itself: we hung out, watched films together. It was quite cool. It’s terrible that it took so long to finish the film after that, horrible. I should say that I made two more films in between! Because if I think about it taking more than five years, oh my God, that’s so depressing!
“When I was finishing the film, I felt I had nothing to do with it anymore. It took so long that I felt disconnected in a way from what the film says. I feel completely different, and everything that happened to me after shooting the film has nothing to do with what the film says. When I wrote it I was completely heartbroken, and very cold towards love. I feel completely different now. I got married, and I’m pregnant. So I completely changed my perspective on love.
“When I went through Binger, it was a road movie, in which the couple traveled from a paradise situation back to the city. Everything was a metaphor. That really changed, partly because Mexico is not really safe now, so I didn’t want to take a whole crew and shoot on the highways because of the violence . So instead I locked my couple into this one location, since the original idea was to make this Adam and Eve story. That’s still the feeling that the film has for me, so I’m happy that even if it changed a lot the core is the same. I was honest to the first idea – although I completely disagree with the first idea right now!
“Also, the film changed a lot compared to the script, because the actors and the whole crew brought so much to it. Everybody was sharing their own bad experiences – even the costume designer was pitching in. It was almost like group therapy!
“The screenplay kind of lacked a male point of view – it was written by me and another woman, and it was very girly in a way. That’s why I decided to work with a completely male crew, while in all my previous films it was mostly girls – to balance this kind of girly script. And then the crew and the actor brought their male point of view, which enriched the film a lot.
“The main actor is not an actor – he’s a musician and a poet and a tattoo artist. He said things like: “She already had an affair with someone else, my guy needs to have that too!” Or: “I think he needs to masturbate!” So he brought things to the films I really appreciated. And then at some point towards the end he became completely nosy and wanted to be the director, so I had to stop him doing that, haha. The final scene turned out very different than it was scripted and it was mainly because of his perspective of it. It became more violent. When we finished it, I thought: ‘Oh my God, what did I do?!’ It returns to the situation of the start of the film, but it’s charged by everything that’s happened in between.
“The film was like an exorcism in a way. I’m not the only one who experienced all these changes: many people in the crew had children or got married in the year since shooting. I’m not sure how it happened, but it is interesting how making this film changed things for many of us. It’s kind of magical.”