Spanish Filmmaker Velilla Says He Takes Comedy Seriously


LOS ANGELES – Spanish director Nacho G. Velilla, who spearheaded the latest Mexican-comedy success, “No manches Frida,” is now returning with a sequel to the film that promises to be as funny and entertaining as the first one.

“I take comedy very seriously,” the filmmaker said in an interview with EFE.

“I have followed my own way of working in Spain,” the director from Spain’s Aragon region said. “I take comedy very seriously and I try to let it develop out of conflicts. I prefer to work using emotions and the actors understood that perfectly. We try a lot (of different things) and we worked really well together,” he said.

Less than three years have passed since the premiere of “No manches Frida,” a version of the German film “Fack ju Göhte” (2013) that was adapted to the Latin American audience by Velilla and starred Mexican actors Omar Chaparro and Martha Higareda.

The plot evolved around Zequi (Chaparro), a thief who has just been released from prison and who, to try and recover some loot he had hidden, disguises himself as a high school teacher, never imagining that he would fall in love with co-worker Lucy (Higareda).

The film brought in more than $11 million at the box office in the United States.

In the sequel, the couple is about to get married, but the nervous atmosphere on their wedding day results in complete disaster and Lucy decides to back out of the nuptials. On top of that, the school is facing economic challenges that threaten to shut it down.

To avoid this, Zequi’s students must defeat other institutions in an academic competition.

Aside from directing the film, this time Velilla also participated as one of the producers.

“Everything clicked very naturally,” said the Spanish author, who has produced and written films such as “Que se Mueran los Feos” (2010) and “Perdiendo el Norte” (2015).

“In the first one, I participated in the casting and production design. Now I’m taking it one step further. I proposed an original script to the studio (Pantelion) not based on the German film’s sequel. As a result, I incorporated more people from my team (music, visual effects and screenwriting), and so they suggested I coordinate the production,” he said.

The relationship between Velilla and Pantelion is so good that, although this sequel has not yet been released, the studio has already offered to have him direct a third film.

“Something amazing is happening here. Already with the first part, before releasing it, they told me that we had to start thinking about the sequel. And now something extraordinary has happened. The trailer for the sequel was released months ago and within the first 24 hours it had more than six million views,” the filmmaker said.

The studio is confident of the film’s success and is forecasting good results for its March 15 debut in the United States.

“They work the other way around (in comparison to) Spain. They set a release date and then they build it backward. They’ve asked me to look for plotlines for the third film, but we’re acting cautiously before the premiere. Then we’ll know the answer, but everything is pointing that way,” he said.

Velilla’s relationship with Pantelion will soon expand into the world of TV series and distribution via streaming services.

“Now a Spanish creator can produce series on a global level,” said Velilla, emphasizing the case of “La Casa de Papel” and “Elite” – which have been huge successes around the world thanks to streaming on Netflix.

“The birth of digital platforms has globalized consumption. Now, the main stories don’t come just from Hollywood studios. We consume and produce globally,” Velilla said.

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