An Interview with Alan Parker, Director
On the set of Evita in Buenos Aires
Q: Alan, can you give me some background about the arrival of the unit here and the reaction of the people?
ALAN PARKER: When we first arrived, it was actually not very nice to come from the airport and see these huge signs everywhere saying, "Go home, Madonna," or, "Go home, Alan Parker and your film crew." But it proved to be a very small group of people. A lot more fuss was sort of blurted out than actually was the reality. In the end, we just put our heads down and continued. So actually, it's quite enjoyable, as we speak.
Q: You held a press conference. What were the results of that?
ALAN PARKER: A lot of the fears really were about the kind of film they thought we were going to make, rather than the actual film we were going to make. And I think that in this country, the way in which people think about Eva Perón is, if you're a Perónist, then she's a saint; if you're not a Perónist, then she was something different. So I was never going to please everybody. There was always going to be some opposition. In the end, we're making the biggest film ever made in Argentina, and therefore we had to attract a lot of attention from the press.
Q: The press all wanted to get to Madonna, didn't they?
ALAN PARKER: Well, they all wanted their photographs. A photographer can make a lot of money on a photograph from a film like this, around the world in different magazines and things. You know, they're doing a job.
Q: But they've tried all sorts of things, like helicopters . . .
ALAN PARKER: We've been constantly buzzed by helicopters, yes. It's the only way to get to us. They don't bother us. We're shooting playback sound. In a normal dramatic film, synch sound would be very crucial, and if they bothered us with helicopters they could actually disrupt the process. But on a film like this, ironically, they can't.
Q: What about the Madonna element, the fans and security and attention?
ALAN PARKER: The biggest problem for us was not protesters. We've had very few protesters, actually. Our biggest problem has been just rock 'n' roll fans. It's just Madonna being here, and usually when a rock 'n' roll band comes to play Buenos Aires, kids camp out for a night and then the band does their gig and they're out of town. Well, to have someone around all the time is obviously something they've not had here before, and so fans were our biggest problem to begin with.
Q: How have the actors reacted to working in the place where the story happened?
ALAN PARKER: I think all of us have been affected by actually being in Buenos Aires. This film is set in Buenos Aires, so I had to be here for me to feel right. It's particularly important to Madonna. When she arrived to do her preparation, talking to old Perónists, people who knew Eva Perón, to make her feel more comfortable in the part, I think that was invaluable. We could not have done that if we'd been in a studio situation anywhere else. And then I think the whole crew feels that we now have captured the heart of the film.
Q: Are you happy with the way things are going?
ALAN PARKER: I'm very happy. The film is a huge film, which is a big responsibility for any director. It's a very costly operation, by virtue of this mammoth crew and everything. The schedule's tough. We shoot six days a week, very long hours, so it's very tiring, fatiguing. But the adrenaline pushes you forward. The performances have been fantastic. We're making it contemporary and real, and not just a theatrical exercise.
Q: I think the actors found it difficult in the recording sessions imagining what it would be like on the set.
ALAN PARKER: When we were doing the recording, we were making one movie. Then we're going to make another movie [during filming]. In that regard, choices had to be made in the recording that I have to live with now. You cross your fingers that you've made those right decisions then.
Q: But you're the only person who could see this film while you were recording it. How did you convey that to the actors?
ALAN PARKER: Everybody always talks about my vision in this film. The truth is, everybody has a vision of it, everybody who's working on it. A great movie evolves when everybody has the same vision in their heads.
Q: And now the caravan moves on. Tell us about moving this huge army again.
ALAN PARKER: David Lean says we're the last of the traveling circuses, and indeed that's what we are. Just the number of trucks and personnel and equipment needed for a modern big film -- it's pretty mind-boggling. We're going to move from Argentina to Hungary, which is a huge move. Tons and tons of equipment to be freighted there. And when we arrive, we'll start shooting again immediately. And then we'll get back to London for more studio work.
Q: Are there problems matching Hungary and Argentina?
ALAN PARKER: Well, we thought about it, you know. The art department has everything worked out ahead of time. The quality of light is somewhat different, but we'll do different things there than what we've done here. What we've been doing here has been very specific to the nature of this light and the people. We've had extraordinary extras here in Argentina, which is very gratifying, because it's my job to capture Argentina and put it on film. What we'll do in other places is just the illusion and magic of film.