Director of Martin Sheen Movie Filmed in Spanish and English Says Bilingual Actors Are "the Future of Filmmaking"
"The days of actors speaking English with bad Spanish accents is over," jokes Julio Quintana, director of 'The Vessel.'
There are an estimated 41 million native Spanish speakers living in the U.S. — more than anywhere else except Mexico — and one American film director is tackling the demographic in a unique way: hiring only bilingual actors and shooting every scene twice, once in English and once in Spanish.
The result, says Julio Quintana, director of The Vessel, starring Martin Sheen, is a more authentic experience for Spanish-speaking audiences who may be used to seeing movies with English dialogue later dubbed into Spanish.
"This is potentially the future of filmmaking," says Quintana. "The days of actors speaking English with bad Spanish accents is over."
In The Vessel, Sheen plays an American priest in a Hispanic town where a tsunami has wiped out a school — while the town's entire population of children was attending classes.
"We did every scene in English and in Spanish. It's the first time I've ever spoken Spanish in my work, so I'm very proud of that," Sheen tells The Hollywood Reporter.
The Vessel was shot for less than $5 million, and Quintana says that shooting each scene in both languages only added 5 percent to the budget.
"I'm shocked no one has done this before. It's a real opportunity for bilingual actors," says Quintana. "It doesn't cost much, and it doubles the potential market."
The movie was shot in Puerto Rico, so the director says it was no problem finding Spanish speakers, and Sheen's Spanish was good enough because he plays an American who was supposed to have an accent.
Terrence Malick executive produced the film, and Marla Quintana produced. Also executive producing was Sheen, Sarah Green and Mark Joseph.
"There were people we didn't cast because their English wasn't strong enough and some high-level stars in Hollywood we were talking to that we couldn't hire because their Spanish was weak," says Quintana.
"The Latino market in the U.S. is getting strong enough to support this kind of filmmaking. Brad Pitt and Will Smith will have to learn Spanish," he jokes.
The Vessel has a limited 30-screen release on Sept. 16 and will expand from there. AMC already has committed to playing both versions in its theaters, as have several independently owned theaters. See a trailer below.