By Jana Kaplan
It’s a great accomplishment to complete a film. It’s an even bigger accomplishment when it’s rumored that your film will be up for an Academy Award. I had the chance to speak with creator and director Adrian Saba, a 2010 Hofstra University alum whose career has skyrocketed in just two years.
1.) You graduated from Hofstra in 2010, you started your own film company in 2011 and your first feature film, “El Limpiador,” has already won Special Mentions and been invited to the Cannes Film Festival. Did you ever think all of this was in the cards for you this early in the game?
Not at all. It was a really small adventure that we embarked on to learn and to grow. All I wanted to do after college was a film and it was looking like it was going to take a while, so we decided to do a small thing, just between friends. Then things became bigger by themselves as we moved forward.
Everything was really small. My film company still is really small; it's just my name, my address and a bank account. You need a legal company to operate with funds, festivals and sales. And when we were shooting “El Limpiador,” I didn't want anyone to know in case it ended up being horrible.
2.) What has been the most rewarding experience so far? Have you had a moment yet when all your successes have hit you?
I think the most rewarding experience for any filmmaker is to make the actual movie. Nothing compares to that. And it's a great achievement to be able to be on a movie set. The moment that really hits me is when I'm making the film. That's the moment I feel the most successful and most accomplished. I think it's so hard to pull off a film that it's a great achievement when you get to do it. And I've only done it once so far, so I hope I get to do it twice.
3.) In English, the title of your film is translated into “The Cleaner.” What does the cleaner signify, in both the sci-fi and drama sense?
There's already a movie called “Cleaner,” with Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. It's also about a forensic cleaner. When I've mentioned the title to people, especially at the beginning when they had no idea what I was doing, it would go two ways: an action film, like a badass shoot-em-all type of guy who wipes out the bad guys, or a porno. But I wanted a title that was sober, that would give zero expectations. If you think about it “poetically” or even marketing-wise, it's a horrible title, but I really like it because of that. It makes you go into the film basically with zero expectations, which will help to transport you subtly into the film and even surprise you.
4.) Your father, Edgar, is also in the business. Was there ever a time when your family didn’t want you in the same industry?
Well my dad is mainly dedicated to theater, and so is my mom. And my sister studies music. So it's a pretty artistic environment I grew up in. And my parents have been always supportive of whatever I chose to do, as long as I was happy. They are happy and proud I'm in this industry.
5.) Did you ever want to be anything besides a director?
Yes, many things – the first one being a dolphin trainer. I guess you can blame “Flipper” for that, which ultimately boils down to movies. So maybe I always knew?
6.) The foreign language nominees for the Oscars are announced in January. What would it mean to you to be nominated?
It would be absolutely completely totally insane. Unreal.
7.) You were born in Madrid, raised in Peru and went to Hofstra on a scholarship. Do you think this worldliness has given you a better sense of creativity and culture as a director?
Creativity... I don't know. Culture... I don't know. I'm usually quite stupid most of the time. I think what I am is reflected in the things I do. And I don't really believe in frontiers and borders, I believe in cultures.
8.) Why did you choose to film in Peru?
Because I'm from there. After college all I knew was that I wanted to shoot my first film and I felt weird doing it in the States. It was my first film, my introduction to the world. So if I shot a film in the States and in English, that meant that I was an American director. Would people assume I was American only until they met me in person? So I felt that my first film needed to be Peruvian, like me. But in the future I would love to shoot stuff in the States, and if I can do it with my Hofstra friends, even better.
9.) What is your next project?
Another film. And for the moment it is titled “Where the Wild Ones Dream.” I had the lucky chance to develop the screenplay at the Residence of the Cannes Film Festival for about five months at the beginning of 2013 and now we're looking for finance. The film also takes place in Lima, and if all goes well (which is never the case in cinema), we'll be shooting February 2015.
10.) Is foreign language your niche or do you hope to do a feature film in English?
Well, foreign language is pretty much the rest of the world, so it's quite a big niche, and in that sense English is a foreign language to me... but anyways, I will make movies wherever I can make movies. That's my basic principle. I'm from Peru, so this [Peru] is where I know things better and I surf the industry here better (it's tiny, too, so it's easier), but at the same time it's very tough here in Peru to make films. There's little support in every part of the process, so I feel at some point I would like to make the leap to a bigger industry with more “opportunities.” So Hollywood, here I come.