Sex meets social media in 'Fuck My Life'
Chilean filmmaker Nicolás López has no patience for crybabies.
"When I hear filmmakers complain because it's too hard to make films these days because there's no money or there's no time, I think, oh, boo-hoo-hoo!" López said via a Skype call from his home in Santiago.
"My first day of shooting was the day the 8.8 earthquake hit Chile and we still did it!"
The film López speaks of is his newest feature, the romantic comedy Fuck My Life (Que pena tu vida). The title – which is the longhand version of "FML" in Twitter parlance – pretty much summed up how López was feeling about his life when he began the film. It didn't start out that way. His career got a jump-start when he began writing for El Mercurio (a prominent Chilean newspaper) at age 12, first as a contributor, then as a columnist. He made his first short film at 15, which played the festival circuit and gained him some valuable buzz. Other short films followed, and by age 21, he had his first big box office hit with his low-budget 2004 film, Promedio Rojo, which appeared at SXSW that year.
"That got me some love from [Quentin] Tarantino and Elizabeth Avellán," López recalled. It also earned him an influx of support for his next feature, Santos (with Austinite Avellán as a producer). Compared to his previous films, López had money to burn. Santos was made with a $5 million budget, picked up a jury prize at Fantastic Fest, and then went on – in López's own colorful estimation – "to be a big fucking failure."
He blames Chile's economic crisis at the time, but that didn't soften the blow. In the midst of all that, he'd gone through a break up. Re-entering the dating world seemed like a welcome diversion.
"The first time I asked a woman for her number and she said, 'Check me out on Facebook,' I realized the world had changed in another way."
Piqued by how social media had altered human interaction in general, dating in particular, and surrounded by unemployed friends, López decided to make a movie about "not being cool anymore." In the film, he uses social media playfully, as moving wallpaper, to remark on how "impossibly connected" the world is. "When you break up with someone, how do you disconnect when you're always connected?" López wondered.
López cited Robert Rodriguez's book Rebel Without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player as an early influence, and he returned to his "guerilla filmmaker roots" to make Fuck My Life, shooting with a Canon 7D camera – a still camera that can work as a video camera – and with funding from product placements.
His film is bookended with what could be called a declaration of love for his native Santiago.
"It's really funny to me that films that come out of L.A. looking at this part of the world tend to be 'porn poverty,'" he said. "It's like they think everything that happens in the 'bad part of town' is cool. Santiago is a metropolitan city. I live better here than in New York City."
López will be present for Fuck My Life's U.S. premiere at SXSW. And he's already at work on the sequel: Fuck My Wedding.
Fuck My Life
Emerging Visions, U.S. Premiere
Sunday, March 13, 6:15pm, Alamo Lamar B
Wednesday, March 16, 4pm, Alamo Lamar A
Thursday, March 17, 8pm, Alamo Lamar B