Society management

Netflix, JA Bayona Wrap Spain Shoot On ‘Society of the Snow’

Spaniard JA Bayona, director of “The Impossible” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”, is about to complete the production of the Spanish part of “Society of the Snow” (“La sociedad de la nieve”) from Netflix, one of the most ambitious upcoming features in the Spanish-speaking world for 2023.

Set on a 1972 plane crash in the Andes that forced its survivors to extremely extreme measures, the film marks Bayona’s return to Spanish-language cinema for the first time in 16 years since her feature debut in 2006. “The Orphanage”.

What seems like a celebration of extraordinary human strength in a harrowing and intensely physical disaster film, however, is reminiscent of Bayona’s “The Impossible,” which remains for many the director’s finest achievement.

“Society of the Snow”, which had a set tour for some media a few weeks ago, was filmed in Andalusia’s Sierra Nevada, the highest mountain range in mainland Spain, using the wreckage of fuselage of 15,000 pounds of three Fairchild Hiller FH-227 passenger planes. These allowed Bayona to weigh her options on where to film, depending on the weather conditions – which were appropriately bitterly inclement when visiting the set.

A fuselage is deposited in a huge hangar, used as a backlot on the slopes of the Sierra: the second is almost buried under artificial snow, and surrounded by olive trees; the third is above the high mountain tarn of the Sierra Nevada, La Laguna de las Yeguas, at around 10,000 feet.

Located south of Granada in southern Spain, the Sierra Nevada characterizes one of the biggest factors attracting a flood of international big shots to Spain: an accessible wilderness, facilitated by an advanced tourist industry developed since decades. Using a bubble lift and tracked vehicles, it takes just half an hour to get from the cozy Sierra Nevada ski resort to the film’s highest plateau.

The general factual details of the accident are known worldwide. On October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, chartered to bring the Old Christians Rugby Club team from Montevideo to Chile, crashed at an altitude of 11,712ft in the Andes.

Of the 45 passengers, mostly made up of crew and friends and family, 29 survived. Without food, the survivors, part of Uruguay’s educated elite, are forced to eat the flesh of the deceased to stay alive. 19 survived an avalanche. 72 days after the accident; 16 eventually made it out alive.

The haunting saga has been retold in several books and “Alive!” by Frank Marshall. (1993) with Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, Vincent Spano and Bruce Ramsay. Bayona’s ‘Snow Society’ – a name given by survivors to their community – is inspired by the non-fiction book ‘La Sociedad de la Nieve’, written by Uruguayan Pablo Vierci, who went to same school as most players and almost took flight. In 2006, he accompanied four survivors to the scene of the 2006 crash and interviewed all 16.

Vierci’s version, as he says in a prologue, wants to address not just the timeline of events but “what happened in the minds and hearts” of the survivors. Bayona’s film seems to stand out on two counts.

One is physical verisimilitude, a hallmark of Bayona’s “The Impossible.” The first stage of filming took place in Chile in 2021, where a unit photographed landscapes and light conditions at all possible times. The idea was “not to even invent a single rock,” Bergés said when touring the set. Principal photography in Spain is due to wrap at the end of April, and a third is continuing this fall in Chile.

Filming, understandably enough, was physically challenging, with the cast and crew suffering from extreme cold, unstable weather and, in some cases, altitude sickness, as Bayona sought to recreate reality. . “It was like making a Herzog movie with three units and 40 actors,” said Belén Atienza, who produced “Society of the Snow,” like all of Bayona’s films, in collaboration with fellow producer Sandra Hermida, producer of Bayona’s “The Impossible” and “A Monster Calls.”

The set above La Laguna is roughly the same elevation as the Andes crash site. The film was shot in chronological order to allow the actors to move from burly young rugby players to emaciated victims.

For Vierci, the snow society was governed by uncertainty and fear. But the accident, despite the cannibalism, did not reveal “a monstrous side of humanity” but rather “quite the opposite”, he argues in his book.

“Bayona has an amazing insight into capturing inner psychological profiles, crucial to bringing this story to life,” he added on the set of “Society of the Snow,” to which he is attached as associate producer.

“I’ve always loved those films that leave you in silence at the end of the screening, asking you for a lot of things. I found that in Vierci’s book,” Bayona said in Sierra Nevada, between takes.

He added: “When you approach a true story, you have to go beyond the anecdote. This is what happens in this story that offers a very complex and contradictory view of life, where events occur that are incomprehensible to us, and then others of extreme goodness. In the end, it’s a story of love and infinite abandonment.

Filming also highlights the ambitions of Netflix titles, when big talent is involved. Written by Bayona, “The Impossible” editor Bernat Vilaplana, Jaime Marqués (“Thieves”) and Nicolás Casariego (“Intruders”), the Spanish shoot for “Society of the Snow” used two base camps, a huge backlot, three units, a 300-person crew and another 300 people for post-production.

Still, its cast is made up of promising Uruguayan and Argentinian actors – Enzo Vogrincic (“A Twelve-Year Night”), Matías Recalt (“Apache, la vida de Carlos Tévez”), Agustín Pardella (“Pinamar”) and Felipe González (“El Cazador”) and it’s in spanish.

“This film, as we make it today, could not have been made without Netflix’s total commitment to a Spanish film, with an internationally unknown cast, and to the dramatic elements of the story,” observed Atienza.

However, “the stories transcend languages ​​and almost cultures. Language differences become almost irrelevant to new generations,” Hermida pointed out on set.

In addition, the “Snow Society” has Bayona, one of the most important values ​​in the Spanish-speaking world. “The Impossible,” another heartbreaking disaster film, grossed $198 million worldwide in 2012, an extraordinary achievement for an independent film, produced by Apaches Entertainment and Telecinco Cinema in Spain. “Jurassic World. The Fallen Kingdom” has grossed $1.3 billion worldwide.

Bayona has also brought in top-notch technical talent, be it Pedro Luque, whose credits include Fede Álvarez’s “Don’t Breathe,” as DP and Spanish-based FX DDT’s David Martí and Montse Ribé. , who won an Oscar for their work on Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”.

The feature is designed to be deeply immersive, interweaving dramatic shots of the landscape with psychologically revealing, Bayona-style close-ups, producers Atienza and Hermida said.

“Society of the Snow” will be ready for delivery in 2023. A launch strategy is yet to be determined. The signs are, however, that this is a Netflix movie best experienced in a theater.