Taking a web hit to the movies

Alfonso Sánchez and Alberto López attracted millions of followers online Now their El Cabesa and El Culebra characters have their own feature film

Alfonso Sánchez and Alberto López, stars of the movie El mundo es nuestro.
Alfonso Sánchez and Alberto López, stars of the movie El mundo es nuestro.GARCÍA CORDERO (EL PAÍS)

From website to website, the news has been echoing around the internet: "El Cabesa and El Culebra have a movie!"

Indeed they have, and it's a good one.

Alfonso Sánchez first began his web series about the two tracksuited small-time crooks from Seville out of a desire to make films: "I wanted to make cinema. In any way I could. But we didn't have any money in the production company, though we did have an HD camera."

That's how web shorts such as Esto ya no es lo que era and Eso es así were born.

"Do you know how we found out we'd made it?" asks Sánchez. "We sent Esto ya no es lo que era to a handful of festivals and one of them asked to put it on its website. Sometime later someone sent me a link saying, 'You have to see this' without realizing that it was my work and I already had 50,000 hits."

Today the trilogy of shorts that he directed, wrote and starred in has received nine million hits on his YouTube channel. "However we wanted to return to our first love, cinema," he admits.

Someone sent me a link saying, 'You must see this,' not realizing it was mine"

El mundo es nuestro (or, The world is ours) is the first feature film outing for El Cabesa (Sánchez) and El Culebra (Alberto López) and finds them mixed up in a bank raid in the middle of Seville's Triana neighborhood. Everything that could go wrong does go wrong for the duo - with the whole of Seville watching on TV. "I love that label of Sevillian neorealism [it has been given], because it means people are talking about the film."

Internet success does not always translate into offline world success, however. "We are very aware of that in the production company, MundoFicción. People have to know that it is a good product, made with a cinematic impact and intended for their enjoyment and to entertain."

As the press notes put it, rather unfortunately: "It's as if you put Dog Day Afternoon, La Haine, Atraco a las tres, La estanquera de Vallecas and La escopeta nacional in a blender and hit turbo. As if Berlanga, Azcona, Lumet, Tarantino were all out drinking round Kusturica's house."

Sánchez acts, produces, writes and directs in the film. "My passion is performing. What I like is being part of the creative aspect, so first writing then acting and directing didn't worry me. It's also true that I was supported by a great assistant director. What made me suffer was being part of the trio of executive producers: I turned into another person."

El mundo es nuestro is financed predominantly by crowdfunding, whereby lots of people contributed small amounts to raise the budget. "Filming didn't cost much, but in the end there was postproduction and we reached 700,000 euros."

In the meantime he continued with his acting career. "It makes me laugh that people saw me in [recent Seville-set police thriller] Grupo 7 and said, 'Where did that come from?' Well, from years of work. I started in [TV series] ¡Ala... Dina! in 2000, more or less at the same time as Antonio de la Torre, and I had parts in [Ridley Scott's] Kingdom of Heaven and [Star Wars movie] Attack of the Clones."

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