Filmmaker to Tell Story of Struggling Olive Farmers in Spain in 90s

Filmmaker Matthew Jeffrey wants to tell the story of how Spain's construction boom and bust affected olive farmers.

Matthew Jeffrey
By Paul Conley
Mar. 14, 2017 14:45 UTC
Matthew Jeffrey

A British film­maker is seek­ing fund­ing to film a drama about a fam­ily of strug­gling olive farm­ers in Spain at the turn of the mil­len­nium.

A Story of the Campo” tells the tale of a 19-year-old Paco, who faces pres­sure to take over the fam­ily olive farm as a real-estate boom on the coast lures work­ers away from the inte­rior with the promise of con­struc­tion jobs.

This is the kind of sto­ries I want to tell, to show this real-life view of what olive farm­ing fam­i­lies were going through at the time.- Matthew Jeffrey

It’s a time and place that Matthew Jeffrey knows well. He and his par­ents left England and moved to the south of Spain dur­ing the con­struc­tion boom. Jeffrey was 8‑years old.

I grew up on the Spanish coast. But I had a friend that lived in an inland town called Cartama and his house was right by an olive farm. I always remem­ber being blown away by the vast amount of olive trees, and I always used to enjoy watch­ing the work­ers on the farms,” Jeffrey said in an inter­view with Olive Oil Times.

The film is not based on any­one that I knew, but is based on the world that was around me at that time. I was too young to under­stand the bank­ing cri­sis and the boom of con­struc­tion in the early 90s, but this topic and time has always inter­ested me.”

In the late 90s and early 00s, a series of events trig­gered a mas­sive surge in con­struc­tion. First, inter­est rates plum­meted from 14 per­cent to 4 per­cent as the nation adopted the Euro in 2002. Then Spain’s gov­ern­ment opened a tremen­dous amount of land on the coasts to devel­op­ment. Thousands of peo­ple from Spain’s inte­rior and else­where in the E.U. flocked to the con­struc­tion sites for work.

When the bub­ble burst, roughly 1 mil­lion prop­er­ties were left unsold. Unemployment among Spain’s 18- to 25-year-olds soared to 50 per­cent.

Jeffrey is crowd­sourc­ing funds for the film on the Indiegogo plat­form, which con­nects artists and cre­ative entre­pre­neurs with small investors. At the time of the inter­view, he was just short of halfway to a goal of £3,000 ($3,650)

And as Jeffrey works to gen­er­ate cash for the project, things have already pro­gressed. A pro­duc­tion com­pany has been cho­sen, actors have been cast, and a loca­tion selected.

We are film­ing at an olive farm in a town called Alhora, close to Malaga,” he said. It really is a beau­ti­ful place, Stunning sun­rises, and sun­sets with huge col­or­ful skies and vast moun­tains.”

In addi­tion, Jeffrey and his team have made an unusual deci­sion about the lan­guage in the film.

The film takes place in Andalusia and the dialect will be spo­ken in the tra­di­tional Andalucian accent, which is not very com­mon in Spanish cin­ema at all,” Jeffrey said.

Jeffrey, 24, stud­ied Media, Film and Production at Staffordshire University. He’s been mak­ing films pro­fes­sion­ally for four years.

Being a British film­maker who grew up in Spain I feel as though a big part of my past is over there and that’s is why I am now mak­ing this film,” he said. I have always been fas­ci­nated with the peo­ple liv­ing in the Campo. This is the kind of sto­ries I want to tell, to show this real-life view of what olive farm­ing fam­i­lies were going through at the time.”

To learn more or to sup­port the film, visit Jeffrey’s cam­paign page.


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