On my second tour of living (?) in New York, I fell in love with the Spanish Restaurant, El Faro, in The Village, Greenwich and Horatio. The place transported you. All the waiters were Spanish and spoke with Castilian accents, ‘th.’ The food seemed authentic but what did I know. My favorite dish there was Paella Valenciana, although I tried everything and since we were usually a bunch, there was enough for everyone. I lost touch with the place in later years and was chagrined when I heard it went out of business for strange and easily solved reasons, something about ‘back taxes and fines.’
I found a location in Spain for an IBM campaign, Valencia, and I hoped that I could bring back a few memories of the food at El Faro, especially the paella.
I wasn’t a fan of Spain. I had bad luck there on every occasion I had been there, Barcelona, Alhambra, San Sebastian. The location I had ‘discovered’ was Calatrava’s CITY OF ARTS AND SCIENCES in Valencia, an architectural excess that was perfect for the IBM campaign as a physical symbol for the workings of futuristic computer technology. The complex seemed to be an attempt to draw tourists to Valencia much like Frank Gehry’s museum did at Bilbao.
When I got there, I was impressed by the sculptural architecture, especially because it was perfect for what we were doing, but as I cruised around, I marveled at the arrogance of the wasteful methodology, especially the tile fragments that seemed to abound in the pools (huge) and as a covering for the opera house. The term for this was trencadis, and was first used by the famous modernist architect, Gaudi. I guess this was Calatrava’s tribute to him. I also wondered about the purpose of the various buildings as they seemed to have no purpose (except for the opera). They were just there in their arrogant magnificence.
The location worked beautifully, although we weren’t allowed to film near the opera house because the tiles were falling from the exterior and posed a danger to those beneath. Odd, the building was almost brand new.
My biggest issue in Spain was always the crew. They prefer to sit, chat, and smoke rather than do. This was especially evident in the local production people but there was a little in the working crew as well. It was more of an irritant than an issue. I guess they had never heard of Captain Jack’s analogy, Filmmaking as War.
These irritations were minor, and the shoot went well. What I did anticipate was authentic Paella Valenciana, after all, we were there. I think we had it on three or four occasions. It was terrible each time, akin to Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares.
Isabella kicked out the Moors from Spain, and it’s been all downhill since.