Netflix makes the debut of crime original “Santo”, which bows on September 16, marking another milestone for the American streaming giant – the first fiction project shot between Spain and Brazil, two of its main overseas markets.
A major undertaking, the series features experienced partners and talent behind the camera. Produced by Nostromo Pictures (“Through My Window”) with support from Prodigo Films (“Invisible City”), the six-episode series was created by Carlos López (“La Embajada”) and directed by Vicente Amorim (“Yakuza Princess”) , an author who has consolidated in recent years as one of Brazil’s foremost action series helmers, who is associated with the direct Netflix banner title “Senna.”
“Santo” follows two persistent but divergent cops, Cardona (Bruno Gagliasso, “Marighella”) and Millán (Raúl Arévalo, “Marshland”), as they pursue an elusive drug trafficker involved in occult crimes taking place between Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. and Madrid.
The criminal is ubiquitous, forcing the pair to put aside their growing disagreements to stay on track and make a catch.
“From the script I had a feeling that this would be one of the most intense characters of my career. I immediately identified with Cardona’s strength and determination. This was the most visceral preparation of my life. I had to access very deep places , access my hell and find my demons to build Cardona,” said Gagliasso.
Originality of the Occult
López crafts a story that incorporates elements of the occult, but they are not central and feel more like a subdued wave that flows just offshore. At first glance, the show offers all the elements of a successful crime proceeding, but deviates by heightening that undercurrent, offering a deeper dive into the soul and psyche of the leads.
“I was fascinated when I thought of a police thriller made up of cops going after evil and the idea that evil is something we don’t really see, which I think is something that happens in life,” López said.
“What made it very original was this new element, the occult, that Carlos brought in. It’s actually complicated because it’s very personal. The truth is that the occult is always in us, and by bringing this element into the series, he’s made the characters a lot more interesting than they would be in a normal crime drama,” Amorim added.
A tale of two cities
The two-country production authentically combines cultures, language and landscapes to capture the dichotomy of the worlds that have shaped Cardona and Millán. Madrid’s hectic and outdated city streets contrast with the windswept and lavish resort of Bahia. The characters align with this duality, which creates friction.
“I thought the best way to tell this was with two characters living in opposite places. They’re very different characters in their relationship with their own souls, I wanted them to come from very different cultures,” said López.
The production team relied heavily on one another as they jumped from continents to ensure a representative view of each location, navigating plans somewhat hampered by a global pandemic to capture the rich, multicultural vision López and Amorim had for each episode. to secure.
“Bahia is typically Brazilian. Being well aware that we had to handle the cultural aspects carefully, with respect, with a lot of research, we never ran the risk of having a foreign view of Brazil, because I am Brazilian. Not just myself, but we had the rest of the Brazilian crew. This clash of cultures was something that is in the script, already written in a very special way. It’s something that really makes this series stand out,” Amorim said.
“I went to Spain to work on an international production, but played a Brazilian. The coolest thing is that, in Portuguese, I am telling a story that also takes place in Brazil, with international creation and production,” added Gagliasso.
Action and more
Each scene is action-driven and quickly propels one audience to the next, allowing character arcs to develop organically with a sense of the audience being swept up in real time with the protagonists into an uncertain future.
“I think all the work of the script, of the directing, and of the whole department to make it look simple or fluid to the viewer, it may seem like chaos, it may seem like a puzzle, but it has to be something that invites you to to follow, as if there is someone who is guiding you effectively,” said López.
He continued: “Sometimes it takes on a tone almost like a circus, a tone of spectacle that gives action to the story. At the same time it is very intimate, very personal.”
“Something that’s pretty smart about the structure is that we’re never ahead of the characters, so we figure things out with them,” Amorim added.
The action sequences are “part of the character’s journey. Each action sequence changes who the characters are, changes their path and shows us a different aspect of them,” Amorim added.