‘The uglies’ big day’ — Spain’s first smartphone series

Dystopian black comedy is available via Android or iOS app

Michal Lagosz plays Pelayo in the series.
Michal Lagosz plays Pelayo in the series.Sofía Royo

In the land of beauty ruled by Mijail I "The Attractive" the streets are kept "safe and esthetic" by the regime's Ugly Capture Unit, who lock the hideous up in concentration camps from which they will never escape. Even more so during the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the dictator's rise to power. That is the setup for El gran día de los feos (The uglies' big day), the first Spanish-produced series conceived to be solely viewed on smartphones and tablets.

Released on September 19, the series is available via an application you can download for Android or iOS. Episodes one and two of the eight-part first season are free and after that can be bought in blocks of two for 89 cents.

"Our intention is that we will be able to offer the whole of it for free when we find a sponsor," says Daniel Leal, the developer of the application.

Produced by Tiempo de Rodar, the series was shot entirely in Madrid and features known television actors such as Daniel Retuerta. The series has three years of work behind it and is backed by the Culture Ministry's ICAA film institute with a total investment of 60,000 euros.

Values such as materialism, consumerism and false idols now prevail"

With shades of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984, it departs from a "banal premise" but subtly criticizes the "crisis of values" we are experiencing. "Values such as materialism, consumerism and false idols now prevail and the metaphor of death to the ugly in the series is the social death experienced by someone who doesn't comply with the current norms," explains Nabil Chabaan, the creator, scriptwriter and one of the directors of the series.

The decision to use an application to release the series was carefully calculated. "The web series market is saturated and it was difficult to make a first project stand out. What's more, we also thought that like this we were responding to an audience that likes consuming fiction when it wants and also where it wants," says Chabaan.

The new format has partly affected the editing process: "It has a more frenetic pace and there are more ellipses in the story than in a TV series," Chabaan explains.

The finale of the first season leaves things open for possible second and third seasons, which is what the producers are hoping for: "It is a painstaking process but it really doesn't depend on us, rather on its acceptance by the public," says Chabaan.

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