Characters in Search of an Auteur: Martín Rejtman Discusses TWO SHOTS FIRED

By Pedro Segura Bernal (@pedroemilio)

On the occasion of the release of Martín Rejtman’s latest film Two Shots Fired / Dos disparos at the Film Society of Lincoln Center in New York City, Pedro Segura spoke to the Argentinean writer and director about the making of the film, the importance of humor, and being a pupil in the filmmaking process.

What was the gestation of Two Shots Fired?

The process of writing my scripts is always very long and complicated. Actually, they begin in different ways. Suddenly, ideas begin to reveal something of a plot and then the story appears. In this case, one of the ideas is undoubtedly the opening sequence of the movie, where the guy shoots himself twice and survives. That's something a friend told me about a guy who did it and survived. From that situation, the film began.

I started thinking and wishing that the development was going to be something totally different from the rest of my films: a film without humor. Which I think now is stupid because I would hate a film without humor. I hate everything without humor. I think humor is what allows us to be alert, something that takes us away from things and allows us to survive. Without it, we cannot be even minimally critical. But in the end, I failed a that. Though it’s a successful failure, paradoxically. Because now I see it would be a mistake to bury the humor of what I do.

How do you assemble all the elements that one usually finds in your films?

I begin without an established framework in mind. What I have are rather situations or characters, which are generally developed in situations. This becomes the breakthrough point, and then a frame appears. It’s quite organic. I don’t have a plot that needs to be filled with situations or dialogue or scenes—they just start to develop.

Two Shots Fired follows a variety of characters with a range of different ages... And if one analyzes your films, growth in characters is a common theme. Is that linked to
personal aging or is it a mere coincidence?

It's something very personal. In my previous films there was a generation gap. Rapado: post-adolescents. After that they are around their 30s, then 40s. When I recognized the pattern, I thought about integrating all these generations into one film. In Two Shots Fired, the protagonists are a family. It works differently. Before, there was a leading figure and some satellite characters—their stories circling the main character. Now, with three protagonists, there are many more satellites, which requires many more open and dispersed stories. It’s very close to the last short story I wrote. I suppose that aging has to do with it, as my stories are quite personal.

What is your approach for creating a short story or a movie?

They are very different. In literature things flow more, they are more continuous. In film it’s more fragmentary. I am aware how all these situations tend to be structured in a frame. Structure in film, I think, is more important than in text.

Do you consider the existence of a “Rejtmanian universe" ... where the characters in your books and your films converge and intersect?
Human experiences are limited. There comes a time when the elements begin to mix; there are many elements that repeat. In this movie I saw myself doing shots where I thought, "I have already done this shot in another film." The way I shot the kitchen in Two Shots Fired is the same way I shot a kitchen in Silvia Prieto. But in how many ways can you shoot a kitchen? I like medium shots, and that limits me in filming certain things in certain ways.

Looking back to when you filmed Rapado, how much has changed from early Rejtman to nowadays?

For myself, as a filmmaker, I don’t see much difference. I filmed Two Shots Fired in a very similar way to my first film. I always try to build my team with new people. This means constant learning about how to relate and understand each other as a team and as actors. It puts me in the role of a pupil. I remade the film a lot of times—the staging, everything. Tests and scripts. The group studied the recorder for months for the playbacks. But at the time of the staging, I had no idea. Everything was kind of spontaneous. Every day was a challenge. In Rapado, I prepared much more but because I had less confidence.

What did you enjoy most in working on Two Shots Fired?

The sound editing. Everything is done there and I really enjoy sound in general. I love it and am a little obsessive about it. It’s a stage where nothing can go wrong. It’s also a great time to edit; you can individually enjoy all the elements of a film. There’s always this big underlying stress, a perpetual sense that something can go wrong. Each element of a movie is complicated. For example: Mariano, the protagonist, had to learn to swim. Of the characters who drive onscreen, none of them knew how, and the guy on the bike, he had to learn to ride it. Same with the recorder players. Everything was complicated and difficult.

How do you see the film now, months after it premiered?

I don’t watch my films again. I have only seen it twice: once in Toronto and once in Locarno. The film is over. We must continue to other things, what follows. I have to think a bit about it, but I have to move on. Like my characters, who are not very thoughtful, I'm the same. Even I’m a little less than them. Really, I don’t like to think about my finished films very much.

Will we have to wait long for a new film by Martín Rejtman?

Currently I'm working on the screenplay for my next film, which I hope to finish soon. I have lots of trips nowadays. I hope it doesn’t get too complicated. I have to learn to write while traveling.

Surely, there will be many jokes about airports.

I hope not. [Laughs]

Interview originally published in Spanish at