by Jonathan Herzberg

Miralls is a short drama about the way we reflect our own lives in that of others. It stars Francesc Garrido, Pep Cruz and Arlin Sagués and was shot on location at the Petits Encants shop in Barcelona on Alexa Classic by D.O.P. Miquel Rubis.

The amount of people on screen should always be equal to the amount of people on the set. The location of the shoot should be visible in the film.




Q & A

Q & A

Q & A

Can you guide us through your creative process? After you received the obstructions, how did you get started and what did you do?

 The obstructions were somehow different than I expected, so they came a bit as a surprise. And at first I start ed to think about ways to comply with them in the easiest way possible - just film a monologue by myself and I'm done. But then I realised the reason I wanted to participate was because I wanted to have fun, and just making a simple solution was not fun at all. So I started thinking of ways to actually make it difficult, by having the number of people on screen vary throughout a story. The only problem was I didn't have a story yet.

How did the obstructions help you in the process of making this film or did they limit you?

To find a story I decided to take the idea of mirroring not only as a technical challenge, but also as an inspiration for the subject. I came up with the idea of a woman returning a mirror, and then added the idea of how we always mirror our own experience in the lives of others. I would never have come up with this script without this particular starting point. It also helped because when I started to approach people, many of them actually really enjoyed the idea of this challenge, because they already spend so much of their time doing normal stuff. Only the D.O.P. (Miquel Rubis) needed a lot of convincing, but finally came around. 

To be honest the obstructions were never limiting, but at some point it turned out the crew had become so big that the first one was just impossible. And I think as a film maker you need to understand the moment where you have to break a few rules, so on set I decided to just shoot without this weird choreography we had thought out, where people were supposed to run in and out of area's we had designated on and off set. Process is very nice, but in the end, especially on a shooting day with 20 people, you start to care more about the result.

Your first obstruction was to mirror the amount of people in front of the camera with the people behind the camera. How did you solve this?

On paper we solved it with a complicated choreography where crew would arrive one by one and leave again depending on the number of people in the shot. And I had this trick up my sleeve of using the insane amount of trinkets in the shop to our advantage: if the choreography didn't work we could always make sure all crew behind the camera was reflected in a little mirror in a corner somewhere, so technically the amount of people in the shot would still be equal to the amount of people behind the camera. And there's so many reflecting stuff there that we might have even accidentally succeeded at this, but honestly - I failed. Or rather, I chose to abandon the obstruction when I needed to choose between making the day or being obedient.

So, you failed to find a solution for this obstruction despite your best efforts, but you did manage to make a really beautiful film. Does it feel like you failed?

No, not at all. in the end we're all in this to make nice films. Whatever gets you there gets you there. It'll be a nice story to tell. Plus, I don't take you (Jurjen Semeijn) all that seriously anyway ;)

The second obstruction was to show the location of the film. The purpose of this second obstruction was to force you to go somewhere public where the first obstruction would be much more difficult to achieve. I saw how you solved it, but do you think other people will see it as well?

Well first of all, I think you're cheating by having an actual purpose with your damn obstructions. If you wanted me to go do something in public, you should have told me that, and you should have called it a commandment, not an obstruction. And second of all, I really don't know. One of the hardest parts of filmmaking is putting yourself in the mind of someone who doesn't know what you know, and knowing to what extent they actually need to. But what was important for me is that the solution wasn't only to follow the rule, but also had a dramatic reason. And for me it's actually part of the untold backstory of the man that comes into the shop to buy something. You see, I liked how when the woman asks him why men never take any responsibility, this hits him because it's actually true. So the idea I had, and discussed with the actor, is that the man is there trying to buy something for his son who has moved back to South America with his mother after they broke up, and that he finds out he doesn't really know his own kid anymore - so buys him a souvenir of the Sagrada Familia. And actually my girlfriends cousin really loves these stupid souvenirs. So for me it made sense. Do I need the audience to get all that? No, but I do think it's important that object and actions and lines are infused with meaning in these kinds of ways.

How many people were involved in the entire project? How did you convince them to get involved?

On set we had about 19 people, and then in the post production five more. So that makes at least seven. And involving them is a step by step process. Gilbert Kralinger, the producer, is a good friend of mine, and Iris Jacobs, who did Styling and Art Direction has been my trusted life partner for over six years, so these were easy. And then I started with the cast: I had seen a great short film some time ago that is actually the only thing you find when you go to the website of a quite famous bar in Barcelona (barmut.com), and there was one actor in there that I really liked for this role. So I approached him, and he was really enthusiastic about the script and about working with me. And as he's quite well known in Catalunya that makes it the easier to attract other actors and crew members to the project.

Did they understand the concept of the and action film project? Did you need to explain?

Most of the people either understood or didn't really care. The only thing I found complicated was explaining how it was not a commercial, and yet somewhat a commercial, but I've had to explain way more complicated things in my lifetime (like how to maintain the 180 degree rule when doing a dinner scene) so I think I managed.

 The actors were really great. Who are they and how did you find them?

As I said Francesc Garrido was in that Bar Mut video, so I asked around if anyone had his private number and I sent him a message. Then he recommended Arlin Sagués, the actress, and she really wanted to join for reasons I can't discuss here. She then helped me find Pep Cruz, the proprietor of the store, who I didn't know is actually quite famous in Spain. But without false modesty I would say the script also helped. Actors like scripts with subtext. it gives them something to do.

The actors speak Catalan in the film, right? Was it difficult to direct in a language that you don’t speak or fully understand?

Yes and no. I wrote the script in English and then translated it with the help of two friends. So I knew what they were saying. But Francesc takes a lot of liberties with the dialogue so I wasn't aways certain he was still saying what I wanted. Much harder was actually that I don't speak Spanish well enough to be as specific as you need to be when directing actors. There is already a difference between flirting and seducing for example, and in Spanish I don't know either word. So you run the risk of getting too vague to be of use for the actors. But with the help of Francesc, who speaks good English, we always found a way around this. It just took longer sometimes.

Looking back, if you wouldn’t have had any obstructions would you have made this film differently? Are you satisfied with the final result?

I wouldn't have made it all - the obstructions were the root of the whole project. And I'm very happy with the result.

Have you ever taken responsibility for what happens in your relationships?

No comment. Okay, one comment: everything I write is about me.

Thank you.




Jonathan Herzberg is a writer, director and teacher, based in Barcelona. Before he studied directing at the Dutch Film and Television Academy (graduating in 2011), he studied philosophy and took courses in diverse fields as economics, political science, film studies and literature.

In his first year in film school he co-wrote and directed the feature length road movie ‘The Road to Cadiz’. The film premiered at the Dutch Film Festival, was selected for CPH:PIX in Kopenhagen, and was released in more than ten Dutch cinemas.

After graduating from film school in 2011, Jonathan has made a number of short films, and has worked as a creative, copywriter and director in advertising. At the moment he is developing several longer projects while also working as a teacher and script doctor. His favourite vegetables are fennel, asparagus and artichoke.





Starring: Francesc Garrido, Pep Cruz and Arlin Sagués
Written & directed by: Jonathan Herzberg
Producer: Gilbert Kralinger
Director of photography: Miquel Rubis
Art Direction & Styling: Iris Jacobs
Editor: Martí Cruz
Color Correction: Lluis Velamazan
Sound Design: Josep M. Blasco and Bad Cat
Music Composer: Dario Bellera
First AD: Chris Jenkin
Gaffer: Gal Wachs
Focus Puller: Maximiliano Fritz
Camera Assistent: Alejandra Napuri
Sound Recordist: Ronen Geva
Hair & Make Up: Sandra Martin
Production Assistants: Aiman Halabi Alonso and Ross McClure
Set Photograpy: Charlotte van den Berg
Music Production: Xavi Peralta and Nacho M. Bellera Musicians: Joni Sigil, Javi Garrabella, Rosa Serra and
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