The relationship between Barcelona couple Sergi (David Verdaguer) and his British girlfriend Alex (Natalia Tena) couldn’t be better at the start of Spanish filmmaker Carlos Marques-Marcet’s feature directing debut 10,000 Km. When Alex, a photographer, gets an opportunity to work in Los Angeles for a year, the pair vow to stay together. The internet and their cell phones allow them to text, message, and video chat, promising to make the separation easier. But real life isn’t that simple. During a recent conversation in San Francisco, Marques-Marcet talked about his film and his inspirations drawn from life and technology.
Q: This is a story specific to this technological age. Was your starting point the long-distance relationship or how technology affects those type of relationships?
Carlos Marques-Marcet: It funny. There are other movies about long-distance relationships—but those are really about long-distance love, not relationships. The person you love is abroad; you don’t really have a relationship. But now you can have a relationship.
I moved from Barcelona to Los Angeles and then I had a visit from a friend who is a photographer, who took pictures. At the same time, I was using a lot of Skype with my friends and people in Barcelona. I thought it would be nice to write a story and follow someone through photographs, discovering the city. That was the original idea and then follow all the conversations on Skype—not Skype, because we couldn’t use Skype for the movie, because Skype didn’t want any sex scenes associated with their brand, so we couldn’t use Skype. But that was a little bit the original idea.
We use cameras to say, ‘Hey, how are you?’ We use screens and cameras as a way to communicate. So, I thought why don’t we use that to make a new epistolary genre? It’s funny, I don’t know why they make all these found-footage movies and they are always just horror movies. It’s never used as a way to just show how we live.
Q: You start from a point where everything is going great for them, but then she gets an opportunity to spend a year in the States and at the same time, his work becomes more tentative. The changes in their status could have happened if they were in the same city, but you add extra pressure by separating them.
CMM: That was a big debate for us when we were writing the script. It was difficult to decide what was the conflict, because if you make a movie about a couple that is perfectly fine and then they separate, they are not going to break up. They’re perfectly fine. But at the same time, if you make a movie about a couple that is already breaking up and one moves away, well, they’re going to break up, anyway. You’re not going to make a movie about the distance. We had to find a conflict for them. I found this metaphor, it’s like a house that has cracks. You live with this crack, but then suddenly there’s a lot of humidity or it rains, the circumstances change, and at that moment, these cracks can open and break and create these problems. To me, it was a combination. Couples are not destiny. We have this idea of love, that destiny just chooses us. I don’t think it’s that. I think circumstances are very important and they shape the way we relate to each other.
Q: The fact that she’s English also plays into it. She’s been in Barcelona for seven years, but even with that and even as close as they are, there’s going to be a slight change of viewpoint.
CMM: I was interested in that. There are migrations all around the world and globalization, these inter-cultural relationships happen more and more often. If funny, because even if you think, ‘Oh, Europe,’ but Europe is almost like a fake. The British have much more in common with Americans, even though you are completely different in many ways, but there’s a bigger connection. He feels completely left out, the fact that she’s going to America. It’s a world with a [different] language. And language is important to me, also. It introduces the fact that she has the language and she’s going to that city. She integrates very easily in this new environment, while moving there would be hard for him. Learning a language—it’s a completely new world.—Pam Grady