Home Television Perry Mason Director Marialy Rivas Talks Pioneering Chilean Cinema And

Perry Mason Director Marialy Rivas Talks Pioneering Chilean Cinema And

Perry Mason Director Marialy Rivas Talks Pioneering Chilean Cinema And

Perry Mason completed its second season on HBO.

We jumped on a call with Marialy Rivas, who directed the fifth and eighth episodes.

She took us through her journey and falling in love with cinema, hailing from Chile — which was at the height of a dictatorship regime — and didn’t have a proper film industry, 

Marialy Rivas

She talked about how her style informs how she approaches directing, her experience on the Perry Mason set, and how she landed the gig.

Dive in and enjoy.

Perry - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5

You have extensive credits in directing, especially in Chilean cinema. How has that journey been?

I was born and raised in Chile.

I grew up during the Pinochet dictatorship, but I have wanted to be a filmmaker since I was seven. Chile at that time, you know, Pinochet had killed or exiled all the filmmakers and closed all film schools. So, it was a wild dream, to say the least.

But even with that being the case, I loved movies. I used to go to the movies three times a week, and I would watch anything that was on. I remember being thirteen and watching Davtoksy’s The Sacrifice and Rocky.

Perry and Mateo - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5

They are two very different types of cinema, but that informed my taste. I developed a Western-style because they were the films I enjoyed watching.

I try to create films, or I want to work in TV shows where the show or movie can always have layers and reach a broad audience.

I was lucky when I was nineteen, I shot a documentary about being gay in Chile, and it turned out to be the first queer movie in the country. It became big here, and that allowed me to shoot commercials being a woman in a country without a proper film industry or female directors, at least not many.

I ended up meeting brothers Juan de Dios Larrain and Pablo Larrain, who produced A Fantastic Woman. They have been my producers for sixteen years.

I shot my first short film, and it went to Cannes, then shot my feature film and a second one, and finally, a TV show for Amazon. Then, my representation got me the possibility of working in Perry Mason.

Hamilton - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5

That is quite inspiring and very impressive.

Thank you.

It stands to reason that with such experience, you have learned quite a lot and developed a style. How did that help you approach your Perry Mason episodes?

Cinema has a very technical side. The more you work, the more you understand the craft and gain experience with the tools at your disposal, especially with the type of lenses you can use.

That’s why even though shooting commercials wasn’t my dream, it allowed me to gain the experience necessary to understand cameras and lenses.

Paul - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5

You focus on a scene’s main character or subject as much as possible.

Yes. For me, it’s all about emotions. The usage of lenses helps me achieve the feeling I want to communicate. Using a wide lens, a close-up, or a far shot creates different emotions in the audience. I’m a director who tries to make the best storytelling, and that starts with a great script.

I was lucky that the Perry Mason script was great already, so it made my work easy. It is great working with such a script.

I would think the usage of lenses has something to do with the number of characters in a scene. E.g., using a wide lens for a courtroom scene with many people.

Della and Anita - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5

Not really, No. It’s all about emotion.

Each project comes with unique challenges, and for Perry Mason, it was it being a period piece. That must have required some preparation to realize your and the creatives’ vision. What did you do to prepare for it?

Research. I did a lot of research, studied films from that time, and studied the first season of Perry Mason and the episodes before mine. I visited other directors while they were working on their episodes to see how they did it so that we were cohesive.

I worked closely with the production and costume designers because they had done intense research.

Della and Anita - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 8

I consulted the historian set about the culture of the times. She had extensive knowledge about the times. She had a great knowledge of Latino and class culture of the time. I liked studying. It was so much fun. Finally, I trusted the crew.

They were great at their job and had done a lot of preparation, so I knew I was in good hands.

Every show is a collaborative effort between the cast and the crew. How extensive was that collaboration?

As a director, your job is to bring the episode together, but the actors know the character down to the specifics. They are incredibly smart.

Mason - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 5

The Perry Mason crew was a great and talented group of creators who were open to collaboration. We would get to the showrunners with some notes, and being the geniuses they are, they would build on that and make the idea two hundred times better.

It’s a collaborative effort to ensure the creator’s voice and style are respected.

Were there any differences between directing Episode 5 and Episode 8?

Episode 5 was in the middle of the season, so the challenge was diving deeper into the characters’ arcs. Perry was dealing with the realization that the boys were guilty, Della was struggling with lying to her girlfriend, and Paul was struggling with beating up a kid.

Paul and Mason - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 8

I liked the arcs, and the task was ensuring I got the emotions right.

Episode 8 was about wrapping up the story, and the task was to make it as visually appealing as possible. I had a great script, so the end would always be beautiful, but I wanted to elevate that as much as possible.

Did you run into any unexpected challenges while working on the show?

Coming from Latin America, you are always used to challenges, and you have to adapt. Sometimes, the budget is never enough, and things never work how you need them to. Here, it was the opposite. It was like, “What do you need?” and they had it.

For the first time in my career, I had everything I needed. It was a great experience.

Della - Perry Mason Season 2 Episode 8

Also, I had a great team working with me. I can’t stress enough how great the experience was.

Are there any projects you are working on that you can talk to us about so we can be on the lookout?

I show run a TV series for Amazon in Argentina. The show is about a group of kids who go through a tragedy based on a true story twenty years ago. It is how they deal with the aftermath of that as friends. It is some sort of coming of age.

I’m also working on a movie in Mexico, a biopic waiting to be greenlit. It’s about a lesbian singer from the 50s and 60s and her journey dealing with alcohol addiction.

She did not come out as being lesbian until she was 80 years old, but she was out in the sense that she sang to women and wore pants in a very conservative society. She was a rockstar to me, and I’m eager to shoot the film.

Sounds quite interesting. I hope it gets greenlit and will be on the lookout for it. We never get enough queer stories from the past, especially about women, so this is special.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Denis Kimathi is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. He has watched more dramas and comedies than he cares to remember. Catch him on social media obsessing over [excellent] past, current, and upcoming shows or going off about the politics of representation on TV. Follow him on Twitter.

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