Carlos Porta | Journalist
He directs and hosts ‘Crímenes’, a series that breaks down events from the Catalan black chronicle on TV3 and which premieres today on Movistar+
Journalist Carles Porta (Vilasana, 1963) has spent four years reeling off Catalonia’s black chronicle in ‘Crims’. The Catalunya Radio program has a television adaptation on TV3 that today reaches Movistar+. It does so with ‘The crime of the Urban Guard’, four episodes that delve into the murder of agent Pedro Rodríguez, whose body was found in the trunk of his own burned-out vehicle in May 2017. The investigation ended up putting two defendants, both belonging to the police force, the victim’s partner, Rosa Peral, and her lover, Albert López.
What would you say this television version brings? Was it necessary to tell it in pictures?
–Man, it wasn’t necessary but it was appetizing, yes (laughs). I presented the project the same day to radio and television. The radio bought it in a month and television needed a year and a half, but these things happen, they are different tempos. What I like is telling stories. I started in the newspaper ‘Segre’ and I think that local journalism is the best school there is. Then I ended up working on television. I had always wanted to tell these stories in all possible ways and in the end I have achieved that transversality and the transmediatization of my stories.
–What differences are there?
-The way of producing, the audience and the economic amounts that are managed are very different. Radio is intimacy and television is multiplication. It is a challenge. What is true is that it has been successful and many people have liked it across the board. I hope that in Movistar it is repeated. One of the things viewers have told me is that it’s the only show they watch together with the whole family.
–The space arrives at Movistar+ with ‘The crime of the Urban Guard’. Why this case and not another?
-The choice was Movistar +, but I think it is a great letter of introduction. I would tell you that it is the one that is most worked on. ‘The case of the Guardia Urbana’ has it all. There is no fiction writer capable of putting so many elements, narrative twists and characters so peculiar, powerful and extreme in the same series… And it is also real.
–Those who followed the case, will they find new edges?
-Sure. It is one of the things that has happened to us the most. We do cases already tried. We are interested in the story, the journey, not arriving. Many viewers who knew the case have sucked the four chapters in a row because they are attracted by the way of narrating, the details that we offer and the way in which we do it. We start from journalism to approach cinema telling reality. Obviously there are many details that had not been counted and that placed in one point acquire another dimension. We also tell a story from four points of view, one for each chapter, which gives it a very interesting narrative component.
– What other cases will reach the platform?
-They will be great stories and very diverse. From a prison escape that lasted 33 days and that had the entire Catalan police on edge, with murders included, to crimes in which the police have had to eat the jar a lot because the criminal kept the body in a freezer for three weeks and when he threw it into the river, it shocked everyone because the forensic experts said that he had been dead for three days. There are also female murderers because we wanted them not to appear only as victims, although it must be made clear that 95% of murderers are men.
-Given that the program focuses on crimes that occurred in Catalonia, does coming to Movistar+ open the door to dealing with events from other corners of Spain?
–You would have to ask Movistar. It is what I would like, to be able to do cases in the rest of Spain. For us, having been born in a television such as TV3 and making the leap to Movistar+ is an achievement and a very important step on our way.
–Why do events attract and fascinate us so much?
–The black world, the dark world, because it is so, already attracts us. I think we are attracted to two things: on the one hand, the thriller, the story, what will happen, how they will be stopped, who has done it, why. Narratively it’s the most powerful thing there is because you always have the suspense in the next paragraph. On the other hand, death, the act of taking a person’s life, is the most extreme event that can exist and that also attracts us because it tests us, makes us think if we would be able to do it or solve it and all those elements. Together they are very powerful.
– Curiously, the genre of ‘true crime’ in our country has not had much prestige until the arrival of the platforms. Why?
-It has always been done ‘true crime’, another thing is that it has been programmed well or that the product was of sufficient quality. Perhaps it has been linked too much to the hot event and it has not been done with the perspective of time, which allows you to prioritize the story more. I agree with you that the platforms have multiplied the presence of ‘true crime’ and have taught us that there are great, very powerful stories that can be told after many years. Here we have stuck too much to the fact that they have found a body today and we turn and give it hours and pages and that is something ephemeral because it changes constantly. We have been doing it for years with the perspective that a good story is invincible if it is real and well done.
–When one deals with such sensitive issues, is it very difficult not to fall into morbidity?
–You have to do an important exercise of rereading and rewriting, be clear about where the limit is, put only what is necessary. I usually talk about the three ‘r’s: informative accuracy, everything we explain has to be absolutely true and verified; respect for the victims and even for the murderers, and narrative rhythm and intensity, which are super important. We always draw a line between curiosity and morbidity. I say that we tell black stories using all colors except the yellow of sensationalism and the red of blood. For this we avoid adjectives and try to be neutral, getting as close as possible to reality without judging, because the judgment has already been made.
-And you get to empathize with the murderers? Are they understood?
-This is a very interesting subject. The question is why does someone commit a crime and it is difficult to catch him? Many times it is because nobody suspects him and if that happens it is because that man has empathized with everyone. If I get the viewer to empathize in my chapter, they will understand much better why he could commit the crime. We try to transfer the murderer as he is, we try to interfere as little as possible because that is what will make you empathize with him, get closer and then surprise you. At one point, he has become a murderer, but until then he was not.