Interview with the Screenwriter David Desola Mediavilla, Co-author of ´The Platform´

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David Desola Mediavilla is a writer, playwright, and screenwriter for Spanish cinema and television.

His texts can´t be easily defined as belonging to a genre between comedy and tragedy. He has received notable attention and awards for his movies’ scripts.

David Desola Mediavilla co-writer of “El Hoyo – The platform” has kindly answered some questions about this dystopic film that highlights social inequalities and portrays absurdity, greed, and human meanness in a caricatured way. The story takes place in a minimalist structure, where the role of food is significant. The plot from an original idea by David Desola and written for cinema with co-author Pedro Rivero makes audiences think and reflect a lot. The solution is between the lines … if we want to see it. El Hoyo is the first feature film by director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia. In 2019 the film won the audience award in the Midnight Madness section of the Toronto International Film Festival. At the 52nd edition of the Sitges Fantasy Film Festival, in 2019, it has won four awards, including the Best Film award. At the Goya 2020 Awards, it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best New Direction and Best Special Effects, winning the award in this last section.

Original interview with David Desola Mediavilla in Spanish

Can you tell us how your adventure in writing started? Did you had have always clear about your passion and desire for a career in scriptwriting? What motivated you? Who were the authors that impressed you the most?

I come from a humble family, but very fond of literature: at my parents’ house you could find books by Kafka, Thomas Mann, Victor Hugo, etc … besides the classics of Spanish literature and science fiction novels that my older brother devoured. I started reading all that diversity of writers at a very young age. My favorite author during my childhood and part of my adolescence was Steinbeck. In cinema, the references are very many, from Italian neo-realism to contemporary South Korean cinema or those great theatrical adaptations of the golden age of Hollywood.

Where did the idea and inspiration for the plot “El Hoyo – The Platform” come from? How long did it take you to develop the script?

Ten years ago, after a family meal, I laid down on the sofa and dreamed of El Hoyo, in a very abstract way but which already more or less marked the rules of that culinary dystopia. It can be said that the idea arose from heavy digestion. For a long time, I had that idea quarantined, but it was building by itself in my head. One day I started writing it as a play, but I left it parked in the second act until some time later I told it to my friend and co-writer Pedro Rivero, who was enthusiastic and we decided that he would finish it. The play was never performed, but we were already thinking about turning it into a screenplay, although it took us a long time to get down to it. I made a first writing based on the work and, later, we rewrote it together. The script took approximately four years, but we were combining it with many other works. It was not a custom script, so we were in no rush or outside pressure to develop the story at our own pace.

El Hoyo – The Platform” is one of the 10 most viewed movies in history on the streaming platform Netflix, according to data published by Bloomberg

Goreng says that he entered voluntarily to obtain a diploma. Is this really the only motivation?

Many people think that it is a very poor motivation to enter a place like El Hoyo, but we never talk about the situation outside: perhaps that “approved title” is necessary to survive outside, and enter into El Hoyo is the only way Goreng has to get it. We didn’t want to represent a jail because that implied very specific character profiles. Personally, I was interested that the protagonist’s motivations were those that any human being can have in the real world and in an everyday situation.

Prison should be a rehabilitation facility. We know from Trimagasi that Mikaru goes down every month, and makes carnage. Goreng moves to the upper level, not after “peaceful” coexistence, but when he is the only survivor. Is fighting at any cost a discriminating value? What are the criteria of the system for the monthly redistribution of people in the various levels?

Apparently, the monthly distribution of inmates at different levels occurs randomly, but it does seem that
EL Hoyo (the Administration) rewards the most violent. If that is deliberate or a coincidence, we leave it to the audience’s discretion. Personally, I think that in the real world, people with few scruples have more opportunities to make their way than those who are governed by humanistic principles. Sadly, is like that.

Imoguiri says that she has worked in the system for 25 years and there are 200 levels. They seem to be 333 in the end. Does who works in the system knows only the reality linked to their own profession?

In any gigantic system, it could be a religion, a government, or any powerful institution, the people who work are just pieces of a complex cog and, very often, they don’t know the hidden purposes of what they collaborate in, but only the scope of them.

Imoguiri informs that there should be no minors, but at the last level, there is a hidden one. Is this proof of system defects the consolation of the martyrdom of Goreng and Baharat? Is it an illusion to be able to send a message to the system or is there a remote possibility?

I am not going to say if the girl exists, whether it’s her or the panna cotta, the message is sent, although it apparently has no use. As the wise man character says: “the administration has no conscience.” So the message should be addressed to those who work at Level-0, not to the Administration. I believe that the sacrifice of Baharat and Goreng is more an internal journey and an example towards the inhabitants of the Hole, an act of rebellion and nonconformity, more inward than outward.

The screenplay focuses on an extreme experiment of social conditioning.

From Goreng’s answer in the questionnaire, we can understand that everyone’s favorite dishes are probably on the platform at level zero. Is the situation leading to a form of blindness and gluttony?

It’s the endemic lack of solidarity in human beings and the lack of class consciousness in which we find ourselves. Knowing that next month you may be at a low level makes you take advantage of the moment at a high level. Many factors come together that can be extrapolated to the current situation of confinements by COVID: I think fear produces a lack of solidarity, but hatred towards who can take your place, even more. We see it everywhere with migrants or refugees: no country is safe from being in a situation of war or extreme poverty, and yet there is very little empathy towards those who are living what may touch us tomorrow.

The movie is available on Netflix. Since we are globally facing coronavirus, inevitably people could think about the stay at home restriction and to those who accumulate food besides their real needs. What message do you expect people to understand from the movie?

Empathy and solidarity towards those below us are essential, trying to find a social balance that today not only doesn’t exist, but increases the gap between rich and poor (I speak about people and countries), but also the sustainability of the planet and its resources is an issue that we must start to become aware of, even if we are late. The film, however, is not intended to indoctrinate, but rather to confront the viewers with a mirror in which to see themself reflected and for them to take their own conclusions.

El Hoyo – The Platform” is a Spanish science fiction and suspense, hypnotic and addictive film of the year 2019.

If level zero is planet Earth that makes resources available that could meet everyone’s needs, and only those who are at the highest levels take full advantage of them. What do you think we should actually do to rebalance the system?

What I believe is irrelevant, each one has his own ideology and takes his own position in the society in which he lives. I am not very optimistic about it, the mass movements have failed in the 20th century and it seems that the 21st is lacking in utopias. Perhaps the entire planet has become too concentrated on huge mega-cities and this is the time to empty the cities and return to the villages. We have a technology that allows us to carry out almost any job from anywhere in the world. Why do we all insist on piling up in the big cities, where the house is more expensive, the air is unbreathable, the food is worse and the insecurity is huge? Maybe is someone still interested in having us all piled up as a flock?

Will there be a prequel or sequel?

As far as I know, it’s being negotiated with Netflix. It can be a prequel, a sequel, both in one movie, or why not, a different story that happens at the same time as the original movie, where the two stories intersect.

David Desola and Pedro Rivero in a cameo
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