When shooting a project, one of the worst things that could happen to the production, once all the crew are already setting up on location, is to have the main actor not show up! This worst case scenario is what Ela has to deal with, on the set of a music video she is directing. In Enloquecer, writer/director Hector Prats immerses us in the absurdity of the chaos principal photography can quickly turn into when things go wrong, pushing his main character’s limits as she struggles to complete her shoot. Films about films are not uncommon, but Enloquecer brings a fresh twist to the genre.
Having directed music videos himself, Prats actually based his screenplay loosely on his own experiences of working on set, including that Ancient Greek setting. “With Enloquecer, I wanted to share a moment of madness that pushes through awkward boundaries of comedy”, he explains as we discuss his aims for the short. While not being judgmental in the least, keeping it light and pushing it to an extra level for dramatization purposes, I found that the film was a good depiction of the energy on set, and how far, when backed into a corner, a filmmaker can go to protect their vision.
Due to the superficial layer of the narrative, the Ancient Greece set in the middle of modern day New York City and how absurd it is in the grand scheme of things, the madness caused by the actor dropping out is the comedic backdrop of the film. As this is heightened by the chaotic atmosphere, Prats creates with his DP Michael Cong and the score by ETM, we seamlessly slip into Ela’s perspective, feeling both her desperation and the adrenaline that pushes her all the way to the satisfaction of being able to get what she wants on camera.
Shooting on film allows the short to visually match what they are trying to emulate in the music video and gives the short the aesthetic of an epic tale. As the production descends into similarly epic proportions and the chaos slowly takes over, the music and camera movements trap us in the madness of the situation. It makes for an incredibly engaging watch, while also recreating the pressure that Ela carries on her shoulders.
Ultimately, the film is all about Ela’s mission to shoot the music video and while everything is set in place to echo her state of mind, the performance is really what makes it all come together and allows the audience to understand what pushed her so far and how she lives with it afterwards. As Enloquecer’s lead-character, Stephanie Jean Lane is remarkably compelling and as she takes us on this 11-minute emotional roller coaster, at any given moment she embodies a bunch of conflicting emotions and feelings. It’s the authenticity of her performance that makes the tone of the film land and allows the comedy to thrive without turning into a one dimensional farce.
Enloquecer had its World Premiere at the Nitehawk Shorts Festival in 2022 (screening alongside fellow S/W pick Atrophy), before earning a selection at the Palm Springs ShortFest. Prats already has several new projects in the works, including a short film titled Heaven is Nobody’s that he describes as a “dark fable about a boy surviving in a cursed ghostly city”, which will serve as a proof of concept for a feature he is writing called No One is Looking at U, inspired by the 1518 dancing plague. He’s also working on another feature film screenplay and a series concept.