Hecho En Mexico, a movie where Mexican music describes national identities and different issues dealing with the human condition, is one of the nicest musical surprises of 2012. I recently had the chance to ask a couple of questions to British director Duncan Bridgeman and this is what he had to say about the issues that the movie touches, his ideas about Mexico and its music, and his overall expectations about this wonderful musical documentary.
I know this movie had a lot of improvisation and basically you did not follow any script. However, I saw in the movie some strong ideas about issues such as globalization, immigration and social inequality. Did you plan to bring those issues into the movie beforehand or did they just come up naturally when you were making the movie?
I am fascinated by the way that we all deal with the dysfunctions that exist on the planet and in our everyday life. When I started the movie I made a map of themes that relate to these issues. Then the job was to find how these themes relate specifically to Mexico.
The theme that really fascinated me in regard to Mexico was the Borders theme. Obviously for the physical border between Mexico and the US and then beyond this it was so clear the social borders that exist within the country, especially the one between rich and poor and then the universal separation between men and women.
On a personal level the most pertinent to me personally is the idea of resistance or surrender to life. I am particularly proud of this chapter. As my way of working is an improvisation with no specific script or storyboard it is clearly very important to keep a constant watch on the project's progress to see where I need to go next.
Each jewel I collect needs to fit with the one before and the one after. I have made up a phrase that describes this process for me: "The self-determining arc of creation" meaning that anything I create has a life of its own beyond my wishes or control. My job is to monitor this arc and make sure I am letting it flow. If I do not surrender to this I can spend a lot of time trying to push the creation into a space it does not want to go.
What was your impression about Mexico before making this film? What is your impression now?
My knowledge of Mexico before I got there was limited to the PR that I had seen. Much bad news and many cliches. Now having spent the best part of 3 years there I see a country that is full of paradox in that it is clearly in trouble on many levels but has a history that is alive and a driving force in the society even in the modern world.
I went round the south first in a van with my crew for 6 weeks. Here I saw this history. Then it was fascinating to witness the influence of the US come into play as I traveled north. The music, the architecture, the way of living changes dramatically as you approach the border then travelling over the border up through Chulavista to LA for the first time I really saw that I was still in Mexico, a different Mexico of course but still Mexico. The culture and the pride in that culture is VERY strong.
Mexico might be the future, it is all going off in such an extreme way that I believe something will give soon. Maybe Mexico is ahead of the game.
Based on this experience, how would you introduce Mexican music to someone who does not know anything about it?
I would give them my album and tell them to get down there as soon as they can and go and see concerts. The recording industry is too controlled there and you do not really get the breadth of music that is being made without going to concerts.
What are your expectations about this movie? Are there any particular goals you would like to achieve with this production?
It is often quoted that expectations are your worst enemy. However, I am really confident that this film and album will find many hearts that take it in and cherish it. It is a unique project and I am extremely proud of the work I have done but of course it could be a flop too!
I would love it that it changes attitudes towards Mexico both inside and outside of the country. And on a personal level, I think it will lead to my next project being better funded and then have a bigger outlet when released. The response I have had so far from everyone has been incredible. I have only seen one bad review. That was in Mexico in a big publication and the guy wrote a whole page slamming the movie and then in the last paragraph said you should go and see this movie anyway because the music is great!