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Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo On Making Buzzy Spanish Drama ‘La Mesias’: “We Were Confident In The Beginning, Then We Got Really Scared”

Having spent three years making buzzy Spanish series La Mesías, Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo have admitted to a crisis of confidence before the show was released.

The pair are huge stars in Spain and recognized at home and increasingly abroad. People are politely waiting for selfies when Deadline spoke to them at Series Mania, where they scooped the Best Directing accolade for the latest project, which was an original for Spanish streamer Movistar Plus+.

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“When we made the show, we were like, ‘maybe nobody’s watching this.’ We were confident in the beginning, then got really scared,” Calvo said. “We were like, ‘is this too hard, is it too painful for the audience?’”

They needn’t have worried. Movistar does not break out viewing data, but the series created a huge stir in Spain, with buzz building as the episodes dropped in weekly instalments.

La MesíasThe Messiah in English – bowed at the San Sebastian Film Festival and was then the first Spanish drama to be at Sundance. It played in the Panorama sidebar at Series Mania. The series follows a brother and sister dealing with the trauma of a painful upbringing, and their relationship with a toxic mother, who is a religious zealot.

La Mesias
La Mesías

“They put together all the pieces of their past and then we kind of understand what happened, and how the situation led to a mother who trapped her children with no contact with the outside world,” Calvo explained.

Paul Thomas Anderson feature The Master was one reference point. “We were fascinated by this movie, because he talks about the beginning of a [cult] leader,” Calvo said. “We wanted to talk about a family cult and we wanted to start from the very beginning. You [the viewer] don’t know where this is leading to, but when it’s finished, you’ll be like ‘now I understand’.”

Ambrossi and Calvo — also known collectively as Los Javis — have a theater background, they are actors as well as writers-director-producers. The mishmash of creative influences results in a distinctive approach, and one that means swerving the usual TV tropes.

Deadline was given access to two episodes of La Mesías ahead of meeting the duo, but Ambrossi was at pains to say the series really needs at least three instalments before you can get the measure of it. “We don’t paint by numbers,” he explained. “We are authors, we believe the TV show is a whole piece and so we put together almost a collage.”

The pair evidently wanted to push their own creative boundaries, which meant deliberately avoiding “the usual tricks and traps for the audience,” Calvo added. “We said, let’s dare ourselves, let’s and do something more, and let’s not scream ‘please watch, please see me’ to the viewers.”

People want to be in business with the Spanish writer-director-producers after the success of their new show and previous efforts which include Veneno and Paquita Salas, which were picked up by HBO Max in the U.S. and Netflix respectively. “We could have an exclusivity deal with, I don’t know, the biggest platform in the world,” Ambrossi said. “We could have [made] millions, but we said: ‘No, that’s not for us.’”

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