I bought the 5th Floor because it had some kind of intrinsic beauty, an “onda” as we say here, that transcended the bricks and mortar, the nice stained glass windows or the spectacular staircase. It has only had two owners in its 70 years in existence. The first built it as his own statement about how he wanted to live, the second loved it and it was clearly the centre not only of the familial existence but also of the families professional life. They are a dynasty of eminent psychiatrists and La dueña (the owner as I still think of this regal 90 year old) still actively practices those divan based, Freudian arts. Think of the stories that must have been told here from the boom times of the 40’s to the repressive days of the dictatorship. I like to think that these big airy rooms have always been a refuge from the summer heat for those successful or failing, elevated in society or struggling to fit in as it changed; those that needed a bit of external wisdom to guide them on their paths. Thousands of people must have opened their hearts here over the years.
The truth is I never thought of myself as very arty in London but then I didn’t have much time and didn’t mix in those circles. Yes, I got the invites to the Mayfair gallery openings, but they were always so stuffed with people chugging free champagne that you rapidly gave up hope of seeing the actual exhibition. Here I do have the time, do have the inspiration, and everyone is an artist or musician, if not by profession at least by inclination. I’ve picked up my old fender and started playing a bit of blues. I’ve nearly finished my first novel. The onda gives you energy! So when I met a young Argentine film director, Leonardo Daniel, and he started telling me about his new project it occurred to me that the 5th Floor would provide the perfect backdrop to his story.
So I gushed on about the glories of this Art Deco space I had just acquired, the light, the colour and of course the onda and I’m a pretty good salesman. Of course he was interested. I’ve raised millions of pounds for companies that were little more than an idea and I was talking to an artist, by definition impressionable. But then I realised this amazing venue was still largely in my mind. The reality was a building site with a thick layer of dust coating everything and all the beautiful doors off their hinges, leaning against the walls. It looked like this;
He came round anyway and felt the onda. Of course as a fellow artist I knew he would. Everyone seemed happy in the dirt, other than the clothes designer who was close to tears. Sadly they couldn’t shoot in desert gear or safari suits. I’m sure her next collection will be washable though. And Leo made his trailer despite the place being a wreck.
So now the pressures on. They want to start shooting the full film in May. Can I finish in time to show the place in all its imagined glory? I’m doing my best!
|I’m sure you want to see the trailer now. You will find it here; http://vimeo.com/57875443
Its called Ella and has its own facebook page here; http://www.facebook.com/Ellalapelicula?fref=ts
And by the way, the viejo verde in the first picture is not a man! Intrigued?