Being in love is much like the sea. On better days, its warm breeze and soothing waves feel like a comforting embrace. But when a storm rattles its calm, swelling, angry waters crashes on the shore, destroying everything in sight.
Francisco Borrajo's PLAYA seems to echo this sentiment. A short film comprised of footage shot with the LomoKino, it follows the three-year relationship of unnamed lovers and how the ocean witnessed their blossoming romance until it becomes the distance that separates them. In this short interview, Francisco shares some insight on how this poignant examination of love and memories was formed.
Hello Pancho! Welcome to the Lomography. Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello! My name is Francisco Borrajo but all my friends call me Pancho. I was born and raised in Mexico City where I studied for a degree in film and television from the university CENTRO de Diseño Cine y Televisión. A year after the graduation, I created Colmena, my own production company, with friends from film school. Colmena is the Spanish word for beehive. We choose that name because of the movie The Spirit of the Beehive by the Spanish director Victor Erice. The idea was to work together and make money from commercial projects to create our own independent films.
When did you realize that you wanted to become a filmmaker?
As a little child in the 90s, I was a big, big fan of Back to the Future and the first Star Wars trilogies. I was mesmerized by the worlds created inside the films. On those times, Discovery Kid channel wasn't for babies and it had a program called The Magic of Cinema. On that program I realized that the worlds in the movies were built by the creativity of a group of passionate people using incredible gear that looks like big-boy toys. Then I realized that I wanted to create my own worlds in my own movies.
Let's jump right into your short film, PLAYA. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?
PLAYA was first inspired only by the joy of taking pictures and making something beautiful out of my vacations. In 2012, I was living the last summer of vacation before getting back to the city to finish film school and find a job. At first, I was filming just by intuition. I knew that I was leaving something to be remembered, and with Jonas Mekas's 16mm film diaries in mind I filmed thinking on rhythm. I started to work on the scanning of the LomoKino negatives and instantly fell in love with the images. Years later, I found a working super 8mm film projector to digitally film the projection. Meanwhile, I started writing the script by making a collage of conversations, things written on a diary, and movie references. At the beginning of this year I found myself without a job and a meaningful project, so I decided to finally join these separate pieces of PLAYA.
Your short film's title translates to "beach." Aside from being the location of most of the scenes, do you have any special connection to it? How would you relate it to the relationship being explored in PLAYA?
Fortunately, most beaches in Mexico are warm for the most part of the year. So, its common for the people of Mexico City to spend vacations on a beach close to the city. Since, I'm a little boy, my vacations happened in Acapulco and the beach became synonymous to freedom and time away from the responsibilities I left in the city. PLAYA is about the love and this feeling of freedom I felt on those days.
Why did you decide to use the LomoKino for this particular project?
The first time I saw the LomoKino on internet I knew it was a perfect camera for me. It combined perfectly the texture of the plastic lens and 35mm film I already loved movie-making with so much passion. The first thing I did with my LomoKino was to tie a rope to it and hang it on my shoulder. It was very easy to just take it anywhere. Then, there is the texture on the images. I just love it. I've been always been a fan of film and currently LomoKino was my only opportunity to get close to a real film cinematography. The dreamy texture of the 35mm film combined with its plastic lens provide the perfect look of dreaming and remembering that this project needed.
Any funny or memorable instances while shooting PLAYA?
I think it is in itself a collection of memorable instances.
Who are the artists you look up to?
As I told before, Jonas Mekas film diaries were in my mind when I was shooting with the LomoKino. I wanted to find a rhythm in my images as I shoot that I could then merge together. As I was gathering all the script from different notes and conversations, I looked up to the films of Jay Rosenblatt and Chris Marker to find a voice that could fit the images. This gathering of a voice or voices took me to Alain Resnais's films: Hiroshima Mon Amour and Last Year at Merienbad.
Where do you draw inspiration?
My inspiration comes mainly from dreams and watching other movies. I also try to keep myself inspired by reading, I think poetry helps a lot to create images. Instagram also inspires me a lot, sometimes I try to create stories out of interesting images I find by luck.
What's next for you?
Right now I've been having a lot of commercial work on Colmena as I'm waiting for more invitations to present PLAYA on international and national film festivals. I have another documentary proyect on the way about fishing, but its moving slow. At the same time, we really want to make a full length film on COLMENA. I hope we could surprise with a new movie on 2018.
All information on this article were provided by Francisco Borrajo and were used here with permission. To see more of his work, follow Colmena on Vimeo.
Catch the screening of PLAYA at this year's Berlinale Film Festival as part of the selection for Generation 14PLus.