Saturday, September 24

‘Without footprints’, a modern western in Alicante


The scene is extremely chaotic. Desi and Cata, two exhausted and badly injured young women, go through the Fun West of El Campello, in Alicante, an area that simulates the American West and that, normally, serves as the setting for bachelor parties or paintball competitions. Oblivious to our protagonists, hundreds of people have fun in what seems to be the square of this papier-mâché town, waving their toy guns, with costumes to the full, horses and specialists performing the capers seen a thousand times in the genre movies.

“We cut!” shouts one of the operators. The scene, which is shot on a particularly hot February 14, will appear in ‘Without footprints’, the new fiction with a Spanish label that Prime Video will premiere in 2023. Carolina Yuste and Camila Sodi are Desi and Cata. One gypsy, the other Mexican, both are friends, share a flat and work as domestic workers. But one fine day, they are fired and receive the worst of assignments: cleaning the house of one of the richest families in Alicante.

There they realize that they have been ambushed and are involved in a murder. “They want to put them in a brown because they are absolutely invisible women for society and they are perfect for eating it,” reflects Yuste (Badajoz, 30 years old) after the sequence they have just shot. The winner of a Goya for best supporting actress for ‘Carmen y Lola’ assures that beyond the action, comedy or thriller in which fiction is framed, what hooked her is “this story that account behind”.

“A very clear signal”

At his side, Sodi (Mexico City, 36 years old) lives his first filming on this side of the pond. «I wanted to move to Spain -she says- and this proposal came out of nowhere, one of those magical things in the universe. A casting for a series that began shooting in two months in Alicante. It was a clear signal.”

It was not easy to carry out the test thousands of kilometers away. «We did it by Zoom and the internet started to go wrong. Carolina had already been selected and gave me the reply, but I was left with the frozen image… It was a disaster », she recalls. The team must have seen something, because Sodi soon received the news that the role was his. «I have moved with my whole family to Spain and I am very excited. Of course, I have gained about five kilos with so much ham, croquettes and Russian salads », she tells amused.

Three images from the shooting at the Fun West in El Campello. / Daniel Escale Garcia

Nobody escapes that there may be similarities, at least at the starting point, with ‘Red Sky’, the series that premiered in March 2021 and that dealt with the spectacular escape of three prostitutes from a hostess club. Criticized for hypersexualizing its protagonists and romanticizing, in some way, prostitution, nothing in the tone of ‘No traces’ seems to resemble Netflix fiction. “That vision was very important to me. There have been four people directing and there had to be, yes or yes, parity. On the other hand, they are two normal women, not this thing of the masculine imaginary projected on what two women are like. It is very difficult to see series starring women in which they are not sexualized in some way, ”reflects Yuste.

Sodi corroborates her partner’s words with an example: “We don’t use makeup throughout the series, but not a drop. They put a little bit to unify, if there is a pimple or an imperfection, but there is no lipstick or mascara. There is also a sense that they are physically not trying to be attractive to anyone. They’re just human beings having an experience.”

And although Sara Antuña already warns, with a laugh, that an actress should never be believed when she says she does not wear makeup, the series’ producer and showrunner concedes, along with Carlos de Pando, that ‘Without traces’ “has no nothing to see”, beyond the fact that two women star in the fiction. «’Red Sky’ sought to be a constant third act, a frenetic thing with video game protagonists, with an aesthetic of empowered heroines with a rifle; Cata and Desi are two friends who can’t wait to get home, take off their shoes, take a shower and take two ibuprofen and a colacao. They have zero desire to be heroines », she affirms.

The Alicante desert. /

Daniel Escale Garcia

In fact, De Pando says that one of the things that was clear from the beginning is that they were going to avoid the word “epic” and the typical shot of ‘Armaggedon’, with slow motion and the characters moving forward, “but not because it is wrong, but because we were looking for another, more authentic tone. De Pando says that, precisely, that has been the most difficult, finding the tone. Because the series mixes thriller, action, drama and comedy, “and all of that sometimes leads you to common places.” The solution? “Put everything through the filter of truth, that we believe what happens to them,” he answers.

Tired of the same locations

Behind the eight chapters there are eight hands, those of Paco Caballero, Samantha López, Koldo Serra and Gemma Ferraté. Each of them has been in charge of directing two chapters. One wonders if it has been difficult to unify the styles to give coherence to the result. “I think everything was very well written, it was already done,” explains López. Serra, for his part, indicates that there is “a superior father”, who is Paco Caballero, who with the first episode “sets the tone and the language”. But he emphasizes, with the faint voice left by the desert dust, that the editors and directors of photography are the same for all the chapters.

That tone is that of a modern western. In fact, among the more or less private jokes of the team, they refer to the production as a “paella western”. Paella, obviously, because of the fact that it was shot in Alicante, but also because of the mixture of genres, and western not only because of the desert landscapes, the wind and the gorges, but “because there is also a thing of very small people facing very large”. In addition, laughs Antuña, “that allowed us to make a joke during the promotion of corruption, like paella, there is in all of Spain, but like in Valencia, nowhere.”

Three images from the shoot. / Daniel Escale Garcia

That idea of ​​the modern western is very present in the formal code of fiction, “with very long shots, sometimes contemplative, shot in ‘scope’ to look for the type of framing of the spaghetti western”, drops a Serra delighted to leave Madrid: «It is a joy to shoot in Alicante. I see the series shot in Madrid and they are always the same fucking locations. You come to Alicante and everything is new, virgin, and that makes the series richer».


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