Estefanía Larraín is a production and theater designer based in Chile. Among her filmography are “NO”, “The Club”, and “A Fantastic Woman”. Notable among her recent projects is “Neruda” by Pablo Larraín, for which she received the Fénix Film Award for Best Art Design and the Coral Award in International Havana Film Festival. Her development has occurred simultaneously in cinema, theater, and advertising.
This seemed to me like a great question to ask yourself. I live in Chile where our film industry is entirely in development and the projects are further apart than we’d like, therefore this question raises itself constantly.
In making a film, I put all of my creativity at its disposition. I spend the months that the project takes thinking about it all day. Finding related topics, researching, looking around me, and seeing how to use the information I observe for the film. You share all of your time with the crew, you see them more than your own family, you know their lives, the way they work, and for a period of time, it’s like a family that functions as if they were made for one another. But what happens when the film ends?
There’s a wonderful moment, which would be the two weeks after, maybe three. At last you can rest, not only physically, but bit by bit you leave behind the images that have accompanied you for so long. You start shedding that life that you were so intensely creating, and that produces a very gratifying postpartum sensation, but it’s also nostalgic, because there’s something in that vertigo, in that exhaustion that fascinates me. It’s the most creative moment that I can have. That’s why I want to quickly return to feeling that sensation. I relate it with creating. There are people who are more creative in their free time. I feel more creative when I’m creating.
I have the luck of not only making films, but also of doing theater design, and that’s where I habitually find an ideal place to work after periods of such intense projects. With a very different method, working practically alone or with a very small crew, it’s ideal to go back to the core and keep designing.
Doing advertising is also an important part of these moments between projects. Although it’s very demanding time-wise, it’s great to maintain the rhythm. Week to week there are different projects that allow me to try new things and keep in contact with my crew.
But when none of this is happening, it’s been very good to try more personal motivations, attempting to learn other disciplines, simply for the pleasure of studying them. Thus I’ve taken piano and illustration classes, stretching my own limits and exploring new things for which I often never have time.
This work is varied in its approaches and its content. One project is never the same as the next, and in the future, you’ll always be able to use everything you’ve seen or done. Once I understood that, I really valued the times without projects. It’s a way to generate energy for the next one, and welcome it better. You don’t have to start on a large enterprise to stay creative, it can be the simplest thing; playing with your kids, working in the garden; where you least expect it, the drive is there, in something with deep intensity and passion, that makes you feel complete, the same thing that happens to me in making films.
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