Interview with Filmmaker Sandro Hernández Ortiz (REALITY CHECK)

REALITY CHECK, 24min., Spain, Fantasy/Drama
Directed by Sandro Hernández Ortiz
Reality Check follows Salvador, a young patient suffering from delusional disorder, who during one of his therapy sessions starts experiencing dangerous levels of reality distortion that make him question everything in his life.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When it comes to delusional disorder, I realized there was a worrying lack of representation. REALITY CHECK developed from this need for representation of delusional characters. Not just to portray them as psychopathic murderers or weird misfits. Did you know that delusional patients do not see their work, nor their personal lives affected by their condition? We are talking about people who live every single day with delusional ideas or thoughts that, in many cases, are completely coherent for them. And just like this, they create worlds which exist only in their minds, either chaotic or idyllic ones, they leave others without a chance to help as they do not realize the extent of the situation or do not know what to do about it. For me, it was important that delusional disorder would not be reduced to just “not being down to earth”.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

Approximately 3 years. I started working on some drafts in late 2018, almost 2019 and then followed with some rewrites and corrections until September 2019. From that point on, me and my team worked non-stop in different tasks including our crowdfunding campaign and preproduction until March 2020, when the pandemic got more serious. When the sanitary conditions improved a bit, we resumed our work. This was almost one year later, in early 2021. We shot the film in April and completed postproduction in late 2021-early 2022. So, as you can see, it was a very long process.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?

A Challenging duality. Bringing my vision to life was as challenging as it would be for a spectator to rely on the main character’s narration. The film itself challenges the parameters or reality, what is real and what isn’t? The duality between reality and non-reality was something that even the team working on the film had some difficulties differencing. Overall, I think these two concepts encapsulate the heart and soul of our film.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The pandemic certainly brought our workflow to an abrupt halt. Abrupt and traumatic as we were only 2 weeks away from shooting the film when the world stopped. That meant part of our money investment up to that point was lost. This was important as most of the money we had was acquired through crowdfunding. We were on the edge of quitting the project and I had to spend the next two months doing some serious damage control from home. As difficult as that moment was, I’m just glad and thankful we could get over it and bring our work to completion.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I watched the reaction video together with Carolina, the film’s producer who also happens to be my wife, and we were both proud and amazed by the reactions. Imagine having people from the other side of the globe not only talking about your film but praising it. It was such a meaningful moment.

One thing that surprised us was how some of the reactors mentioned the fact that even though they watched the film with English subtitles and neither of them spoke Spanish, they were moved by the performances. Never in a million years would we have thought that we could make others feel these emotions with our work.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve always had an affinity for storytelling. When I was little, I could spend hours and hours writing short stories that I would read to my mother. Creating characters, giving them voices and personalities was pure bliss to me, so naturally when I started college I gravitated towards Filmmaking. The second I penned my first script I knew I was in love with this job. Then, while still in college, I started directing some student films and I found a voice inside of me that I didn’t even know existed. It was a cathartic process which I fully embraced.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’m a huge fan of Christopher Nolan’s work and Inception is a film that captivates me to this very day. I might have seen it 150 times or so. Whenever I need inspiration or just to get in the directing mood, I watch it.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I believe communication is key and that is something I must praise you for. At every stage of the process, I felt accompanied by the organizers. Either by mail or via FilmFreeway. Also, having the possibility of hearing the audience’s opinions and feedback is a magnificent opportunity. The whole process has been so enriching, and I would like to see it replicated in other festivals for the good of the filmmaking community.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It was my first time using FilmFreeway and I was very satisfied with it. There are plenty of opportunities and some high-quality festivals are represented in the platform. With its user-friendly design, it simplifies the registration process, and having the opportunity to show your work around the world is amazing.

10. What is your favorite meal?

That’s a funny question. You see, I’m Peruvian so choosing just one meal is almost impossible, but if I had to do so, I’d go with ‘Pollo a la Brasa’, which is a kind of roasted chicken.

11. What is next for you? A new film?

Whenever I finish working on a project, I know there’s another one waiting for me. Right now, I’m completing the draft of a new film. The writing process is taking a bit longer than expected but I hope to enter production hopefully next year. I’ve also completed the first two chapters of my first novel, a drama-thriller called “AXIS” and am also promoting two poetry books I wrote over the summer.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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