• 'Be free in your head' The Bookshop director Isabel Coixet on her new film and tips for filmmakers

    Isabel Coixet is a multi-award-winning Spanish film director known for The Secret Life of Words, Learning to Drive, Map of the Sounds of Tokyo and My Life Without Me. Here she tells Mandy News about her new film The Bookshop (La Libreria) starring Bill Nighy, Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson as well as offering advice to directors starting out.

    24th Jul 2018By James Collins

    Please introduce yourself and tell us how you got involved in writing and directing, what was your path into film?
    I am Isabel Coixet and I have directed 14 feature films, six documentaries and about 200 commercials. When I was eight years old someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up and I answered "filmmaker". So my parents gave me a super8 camera and I started writing scripts and directing my cousins in little movies.

    That was my path; watching tons of movies, all kinds, writing my own stories and making short films with my friends. I never went to film school. I studied history at college.

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    How did you get involved with La Libreria (The Bookshop)?
    I read Penelope Fitzgerald's novel many years ago and was totally mesmerised by the subject and by Florence Green`s character. I identify deeply with her, with her honesty, her courage and her genuine innocence. So, I convinced a producer and we bought the rights and we spent seven years trying to find the finance to make the movie.

    What is your process of working on a film as both writer and director? What challenges do you encounter?
    For me, it`s much more challenging making a movie when I didn`t write the script. As a writer/director you have much more control over the material. When I write, I`m directing in my head. In this case, the challenge was being faithful to the core of the novel and at the same time making the material right for the screen.

    What was the process like for getting The Bookshop made? How long was the process, from writing to completing shooting?
    I wrote the script eight years ago, and finding the money to make the film took seven years. I made other films in the meantime but The Bookshop was always in my head. I become very obsessed with it. But being obsessed is the only way to make meaningful films.

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    What are you currently working on and what are your plans for 2018 and beyond?
    I just finished shooting a film called Elisa y Marcela, in Spain, for Netflix. It`s the real story of two women who got married in 1901 in the North of Spain, because one pretended she was a man. It`s the first time in history two women got married. I`m editing it now and writing a new script.

    What advice do you have for people wanting to get involved in film, to become a writer/director like yourself?
    Advice?? Be honest about your real motives to make films. Be bold. Be free in your head. Don't let the industry mould your point of view about the world. Don't pay attention to what's commercial and what's not. Don't EVER pay attention to critics.

    And never listen to someone who's willing to give you advice...

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