Vast mountains with steep slopes and altitudes that reach 1,700 meters welcome people who arrive by road to the Pasiego valley of Miera (Cantabria). Sleeping colossi that, from a distance, are dominated by all possible shades of green with intermittent red spots caused by autumn. Along these leafy mountain ranges, there are several kilometers between them, adobe houses that resist the violent wind. In this idyllic landscape, without elements that can be associated with the <>st century, a large part of Second Death, the new thriller in the form of a seriesby screenwriter and writer Agustín Martínez (The Hunt), has been filming since September.
The Miera gets its name from the river of the same name that crosses it and flows into the bay of Santander, but before that it passes through other towns, such as Liérganes. In this small village, eight kilometres from the valley and 27 kilometres from the Cantabrian capital, history and mythology coexist: the street that houses the ovens that in 1622 were the first arms industry in the country ends, on the banks of the river, with the statue of the fish man, a local legend. What looks like a summer destination of rest is the scene of a crime in the new original production of Movistar Plus+ in collaboration with DLO Producciones, scheduled to premiere in the first half of 2024 and whose filming ends these days. Sandra (played by Georgina Amorós) is a police auxiliary who will be involved in the appearance of a corpse that should already be buried.
'The hunt. Guadiana', the landscape as a co-protagonist
"I wanted to highlight this contrast of cultures between a contemporary people and Pasiega life, which is on the verge of extinction. There are few pastors left who live on the margins and lead a life that seems almost impossible in today's world," argues Martínez, one of the three writers who make up Carmen Mola. El Miera is one of the three valleys that make up the Pasiega region, historically inhabited by cattle ranchers who practice transtermination, a minor variety of transhumance. "It's not a question of distance from the village or even the city, but of a way of life that involves working seven days a week, children helping with the herd of cows or being in permanent contact with nature," completes the screenwriter of the series, together with Isa Sánchez (Malaka).
Georgina Amorós as Sandra in one of the cabins in the Miera Valley.DEL CERRO FILMS
Sara's character seeks peace in that environment and wants to leave Liérganes to move to a cabin. His tranquility is shattered when he discovers a corpse that shouldn't be there. A mystery that he must solve without intending to, because being a policeman is not exactly his vocation. In between, she will have to resolve personal conflicts: the father of her child is about to be released from prison and her relationship with her own father (Karra Errejalde), a former UCO agent, of imposing character, retires prematurely due to the senile dementia that afflicts him and absent for a large part of his daughter's life, becomes increasingly difficult.
Landscape and nature play as important a role in Martínez's stories as the characters. Whether it's the thaw of the Pyrenees in Monteperdido as a metaphor for a crime that makes the sun and melts the masks of a people to show its true face; the isolated Mallorcan mountains to portray the closed nature of a society in the Tramuntana; or the border with Portugal to divide two opposing worlds in Guadiana. In fact, Martinez writes his scripts and deepens them as he gets to know the locations.
"Google Earth is my greatest ally," reveals the creator of Feria. He continues: "I write the first chapter and with that material, along with some ideas of the locations that I want to appear, we take a trip with the production company to the place. I visit the sites I want to appear and see if they are good for me or not or if I need to add or remove something." To make a faithful portrait of the identity of the communities, he walks through public spaces and talks with the locals. "It's really cool because when you go back to the place and people have already seen the show, they say, 'You can tell you've spent a lot of time here.'"
In Segunda Muerte it was important to define the profile of the Pasiego farmers. They were the ones who rented some of their cabins to the production, dwellings that keep the cattle on a floor below to generate heat and protect themselves from the cold. Wolves, which are a threat to the community's livestock, have a symbolic presence in this six-part miniseries.
Karra Elejalde as former UCO agent Tello in 'Second Death'. DEL CERRO FILMS
If the Pasiego valley represents the poetic part of the story, Liérganes encloses its mythical and folkloric character, a constant in Martínez's stories. On this occasion, the legend of the fishman sneaks into the plot, a young man who disappeared in the Miera River in the eighteenth century to appear five years later in the bay of Cadiz with a scaly body. The only word he uttered was Liérganes. "That magical concept fits very well with the mystery plot we're telling because it's the apparition of a woman who was supposed to be dead a long time before."
A little further away, in Torrelavega, there is another location where a key scene for the series was filmed for three days: the former trash bin Sniace. An industrial archaeology complex of more than 15,000 square meters, which ceased to function in 2011. Its current dismantling, which spreads pipes, cables and boxes that come out of the sales, causes that feeling of abandonment, typical of huge places where there used to be a lot of activity.
Guidelines for capturing the environment
How do we capture through the lens the vastness of the places that build Second Death? Directors Óscar Pedraza (Patria) and Álex Rodrigo (Money Heist), who each share three episodes of the series, agreed on some basic notions. "For landscapes, we proposed the 16:9 panoramic format that is usually used for westerns. We also used telephoto lenses with long lenses because the wide-angle lenses were too short for us to capture the immensity of the mountains," Pedraza explains to this media outlet after filming a scene in the Liérganes Spa, a traditional place where the social relations of the town are established. As for the colors, he adds, they had to be the opposite and complementary to the green that saturates the horizon.
For his part, Rodrigo comments: "I don't like the phrase that the landscape is just another character because characters are characters and what surrounds them are emotional catalysts. We are fortunate that we are accompanying the evolutions of the protagonists with the seasons, we start shooting in summer, with jovial colors that represent their emotions and then darken in the autumn." The 35-year-old director highlights that one of the biggest challenges of filming in Cantabria was the volatile changes in weather in a short period of time, "you get sun, clouds and rain in 20 minutes", so they had effects that allowed them to generate mist, rain or wind and give continuity to the scenes.
Youth and experience
Martinez once again opts for a female police protagonist. However, unlike the determined but impulsive Sara Campos (Megan Montaner) in The Hunt, Sandra seeks peace of mind with her young son and to heal the conflictive relationship with his father, whom she has been taking care of for a few months. "She has a hidden ability but she doesn't really want to be a policeman," says Georgina Amorós about her role. She says that she prepared herself not so much to be a police auxiliary, but a mother: "I had never played a mother, so I wanted us to get to know each other a lot with the child who plays my son, that we would come to have real trust because we have very intimate scenes," says the 25-year-old actress who says she is looking for roles that challenge her. such as the film Berenàveu a les fosques (2021) for which he had to learn French.
One of the directors of 'Segunda Muerte', Óscar Pedraza, gives directions to Georgina Amorós, characterized as Sandra.DEL CERRO FILMS
The raw and untapped talent of Amorós is complemented by the long career of Karra Elejalde. The experienced actor, screenwriter and director returns to play a character with a mental illness, as he did in The Father's Life (2022) or Kepler Sexto B (2023). "I have always been a man with a passion for altered states of consciousness. I wrote a trilogy about it [Airbag (1997), Marian Year (2000) and Torapia (2004)]. I've always been passionate about the bad guys, the guys, rather than the good dad who combs his hair with a left parting," describes the winner of two Goya awards. To play the role of a tenacious, proud, "self-satisfied" former UCO agent, he confesses that he did not want to meddle much with the world of security agents.
Elejalde, in his enjoyment of bizarre characters, reveals that he has always wanted to be Don Quixote. "If one day I have the money to do it, I'll do it myself," he says. For the moment, his hallucinations do not drink from windmills but from mountains of a valley anchored in the past and of a mystical village, in which the fishman watches over the river.
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