Cinema Chile

Exclusive Interview with Marcela Said: The Art of Directing for International Platforms

April 18, 2024

Marcela Said continues to make her mark, this time as the director of “Ourika,” the series that premiered on March 28th on Prime Video. 

Said has forged a successful career and a passion for cinema, particularly in the documentary field with works such as “I Love Pinochet” (2001), “Opus Dei, a Silent Crusade” (2006), and “The Mole” (2010). In 2013, she ventured into fiction with “The Summer of Flying Fish” and in 2017 with “The Dogs,” one of her most iconic and memorable works. 

has been a pioneering figure of Chilean talent internationally, leaving her mark on series productions such as “Narcos” in Mexico, “Lupin” in France, and “Gangs of London” in the UK. The impact of her talent is undeniable, and her recent work, “Ourika,” has been no exception. The series, directed by Said in its first three episodes, has captivated audiences, ranking as number 1 on the platform in countries like France and Italy, and within the top 10 in Belgium, Canada, and Switzerland. 

In this interview, the director tells us about her recent experience, her work with digital platforms, and her future projects. Relive the full interview here and delve into the creative mind of one of the most international figures in Chilean cinema.

“All the stories we tell are stories we have lived and that belong to us, and I think that’s the most beautiful thing about Chilean cinema, that it truly delves into our culture. It’s incredible to see that directors from other countries like Martín Rejtman come to Chile to tell stories that are Chilean, and it’s not just about co-production, it’s because we have stories in common and that’s what we’re meant to tell.”

Why France to settle and experiment with cinema?

I arrived in France when I was 24 years old, and from the first moment, I knew I wanted to leave Chile. I grew up during the dictatorship when Chile was an island. I started in France, my first 52-minute documentary was produced by Les Films d’Ici for French television.

“I love my country; it’s a territory that inhabits me and that I know. But I find the inequality and the lack of Chilean cinema offerings discouraging. In Chile, there is a lot of talent, but there is little money for culture. Culture is the mirror of society.”

From your experience, what French policies would be interesting to adopt in the audiovisual sector for Chile?

In France, there is the CNC, which was also applied in Argentina later on. This organization does something very smart, where all the films that are shown in France pay a tax that is collected, and it’s this fund that finances cinema, ultimately it’s cinema financing cinema from all over the world. And Chile could be a pioneer in this, creating a solidarity system.

How did your first documentary, “I Love Pinochet,” come about?

I was in France when Pinochet was arrested in London, my friends asked me how there were people who supported Pinochet. That’s when I realized it was something unknown; there were documentaries about the victims, but there was nothing about the other side. If the dictatorship had lasted 17 years, it was because there were people who supported it.

How did you start directing series that have been successful on digital platforms?

This was somewhat accidental. After “The Dogs,” I received a call at the end of 2018 from Eric Newman, they were looking for a female director to direct “Narcos.”

It was my first time, but I like challenges and new things. I came to do something I knew how to do, which is to direct, but the difference is that instead of having 50 people on set, there were 800, but at the end of the day, it’s exactly the same, telling a story, with more resources, where you also don’t have to worry about money.

What is it like to direct outside of your comfort zone?

I came with the logic of independent cinema, where there aren’t many resources to do things, and that’s the only difference, which is very nice. It was a beautiful experience, it gives you a lot of confidence to direct in a country that isn’t yours, to know that you are capable of collaborating.

What was it like directing “Ourika”?

It was great. For the first time, I was in charge of directing the first episodes, where I wouldn’t be behind another director, but this time, I set the tone, and that interested me much more, a direct creative experience.

Humans are curious, and today we live in a time where we have access to content that allows us to see and learn about other cultures, and that’s what’s interesting about this series.

What was the biggest challenge in this series?

Directing the first episodes, where you have to hook the viewer. There is a main challenge, which is the pressure that a director receives when doing this, and the second was the filming.

“It was a complicated production filming in the cold and in the suburbs of Paris. Some people think this is all glamour, but it’s physically tough, filming for so many hours, we were filming for 3 weeks straight at night. In total, it was 45 days of filming.”

Are there new projects you can tell us about?

Yes, I am preparing my film. I decided to leave the series for a moment to do “Puma.” I have been working on it for a long time, and it’s something my body is asking for, to return to author cinema, and I hope to film this in November in southern Chile.