“Memento mori” and Valladolid: screen tourism with Designation of origin

With a screen offer as varied and numerous as the one we are experiencing since the appearance of streaming platforms, placing a series or film among the most watched has merit. Getting a good bite of a fragmented audience is something that not all productions manage to do. That’s why having more than 2 million viewers in a month and being in the Top 5 of the most watched content in a country deserves to be celebrated. 

We are talking about “Memento mori”, the Spanish series produced by Zebra Producciones for Prime Video, based on the novel of the same name by César Pérez Gellida and filmed in Valladolid. Leaving aside its effectiveness as a thriller capable of keeping you in suspense for six episodes and the construction of characters that will be remembered for a long time, the series shows us a city transformed into the scene of dark plots and thrilling chases that is far removed from its usual image of a provincial capital where nothing ever happens. 

About how Valladolid becomes another character in the story, we talked to the main cast, the author of the novel and the people in charge of the Film Commission of Valladolid. And this is what they told us. 

How do you manage a shoot with more than 20 locations?

That was the big question that those in charge of the Valladolid Film Commission had to ask themselves in 2022. From emblematic locations in the historic centre of the city – such as the Plaza Mayor, the University Square, the Pasaje Gutiérrez or one of the busiest bridges over the Pisuerga River – to tunnels, university faculties and gardens, the six weeks of filming the series posed more than one logistical problem for a city of 300,000 inhabitants. 

Francisco Ortiz (Sancho) in front of the Faculty of Medicine of Valladolid / José Alberto Puertas-Amazon Prime

The response, as Loreto Arenales, from Valladolid FC, tells us, was to bring together all the municipal services involved (from roads to cleaning) and the associations of traders and neighbours and explain to them what the filming was going to mean for their day-to-day lives. All of them did their best to ensure that scenes such as the spectacular motorbike ride showing Augusto and Erika leaving the city, which involved closing the entire central core of the city to traffic, were done in the best possible way for everyone. 

How happy the people of Valladolid were during the filming is attested to by the many signs of affection they lavished on the technical and artistic team. This is how Yon González, Francisco Ortiz and Olivia Baglivi remember it, highlighting the applause from the audience after each take. The trio starring in “Memento mori” (with the permission of Juan Echanove and Manuela Vellés), enjoyed themselves during their stay in the Castilian capital. 

Heads of the Valladolid Film Commission and the Valladolid City Council at the premiere of the series in Madrid / Amazon Prime

In addition to being able to walk from their accommodation to the film set, or enjoy hearty breakfasts at the Mercado del Val, enjoying the citys lively nightlife, with its tapas and wine routes and concert venues (not forgetting the prominence of Zero Café and music in the plot), are among the best experiences for the Zebra team. 

 

Anecdotes from the shoot: the dangers of getting too much into character

If there is one thing that characterises the plot of the series, it is the intensity of its characters. Both Augusto (Yon González) and Sancho (Francisco Ortiz) were so imbued with the spirit of the serial killer and the police inspector respectively, that in one of the fight scenes, Yon González ended up fainting for real, to the astonishment of his colleagues. It all turned out to be a minor scare, the result of the “immersion” in the character. 

Something similar also happened in a chase scene. In this case, the one that passes through the magnificent Pasaje Gutiérrez. On reaching the end of this modernist gallery, the character of Augusto (again Yon González in action) saves some steps by doing a dangerous pirouette… which he repeated in each and every shot of the scene. 

 

“Memento mori” and Valladolid: let’s do some screen tourism

Both César Pérez Gellida (author of the novel from which the series originates) and the actors and producers of the series agree that Valladolid is a city to stroll around aimlessly. Its architectural, historical and gastronomic delights (architectural, historical and gastronomic) appear around every corner to the delight of the traveller. 

Francisco Ortiz (Sancho) suggests that we start our tour on the banks of the Pisuerga (the river that is the backbone of the city) and gradually enter the old quarter. Olivia Baglivi (Erika) invites us to make a nocturnal visit to the cloister of the Patio Herreriano Museum, where she filmed a powerful scene of seduction with Augustus.

El Patio Herreriano, Olivia Baglivi’s recommendation in Valladolid / Txuca Pereira-Amazon Prime

All this accompanied by an “ad hoc” soundtrack featuring Bunbury, Nacho Vega, Vetusta Morla and Love of Lesbian, Augusto’s and Yon González‘s favourites. 

If you are one of the lucky ones planning to spend a few days in Valladolid, don’t forget to include in your plans the dramatised route “Memento mori” proposed by the city council. It goes out every Saturday night and has some real surprises in store… all of them pleasant. You can book it here

If you are one of those who, for the moment, will not be able to visit the capital of Pisuerga, don’t worry. Amazon has just released an extra chapter in which César Pérez Gellida himself accompanies us on this route of “Memento mori” and at the same time we will be able to see unpublished content and interviews with actors, executive producers and directors. 

So, you know. If you want to experience what you have seen in “Memento mori” and learn more about the story of Inspector Ramiro Sancho, the ineffable “Carapocha” and that refined sociopath Augusto, Valladolid is your destination. Do you already have a date for your route?

By María Parcero

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