The Doll Chronicles is Franco Esteve‘s semi-silent, music based, experimental short film series about Doll, a woman living on the edge of reality. The series tackles social issues and other situations and attempts, through music and with limited resources, to express and elicit certain feelings, thoughts, concepts, and to tell a particular story. There are currently four films in the series, though the first one, Reaction, The Doll Chronicles is no longer available, as it was an experiment to define the concept.
The series was born, as many things are, from beers with friends. Out of a random comment by Núria Garcia about throwing a barbie doll off the balcony and having it be a real girl when she landed, Franco Esteve was inspired to develop a story about the birth of a serial killer. Emma Saura Woods and Franco thought it would be cool to film it and what was initially called “The Barbie Chronicles” was born. That first film, truly experimental and shot as a musical art piece and through the eyes of the child/serial killer, was called Reaction, and included a scene with Núria Garcia’s fascinating comment.
But Franco wasn’t satisfied with just that story, and together with Emma Saura Woods, decided to develop a new series, something lowfi, but that captured proper stories, using the best elements of that original “Barbie Chronicle” and that’s how The Doll Chronicles was born. The first was Paranoia, The Doll Chronicles, a story about the paranoia one feels after reading a horror book. The film starred Emma Saura Woods and included cameos by both Franco Esteve and Núria Garcia in the roles of creatures.
With Paranoia, The Doll Chronicles, Franco felt he had developed a proper art piece, with his music driving the story. It was the film that truly defined what the series could become, and led to the next story: Consequence.
Consequence, The Doll Chronicles is a story we all know, seen or heard of, though none of us would like to acknowledge that something that horrible happens around us. It’s a story Franco had been wanting to tell, and it was inspired on a Larry Clark photo from his Tulsa collection, where a girl gives in as a guy injects her with drugs. For Franco, it’s a powerful image of love, trust, and total submission.
The story follows Doll, a woman having drinks with her friends, who then falls in love with a man who leads her down a dark path and consequences ensue. The film is purely music driven and captures that story from beginning to its logical end.
Consequence, The Doll Chronicles truly captured the essence of what Franco Esteve wanted to do with The Doll Chronicles as a concept, as an art piece, as a form of expression, and as an idea of creation of something beautiful and relevant with no resources. It was created the “Tecato” way, in accordance with his idea of Producciones Tecatas, basically with whatever’s available, both in terms of cameras and of lighting, a kind of survival filmmaking.
The film was well received with a number of accolades, particularly for the film’s score. This led to an even more ambitious project, Apocalypse, The Doll Chronicles.
Beyond Consequence and Franco’s Apocalypse
With the success of Consequence, The Doll Chronicles, Franco Esteve got even more ambitious, wanting to create a multi-layered short film about child abuse and trauma, within a surreal post-apocalyptic landscape that had viewers questioning reality and pushed the concept of Doll, a woman on the edge of reality. Though it would mainly be music based, it would include dialog and would be slightly longer and more of a conceptual mix.
Principal photography began during short periods in 2015 and concluded in 2016. It was filmed during weekends and holidays. Franco had already started working on the music even before filming, having a strong idea as to where he wanted to go musically and with the story all the way back in 2014. A trailer was cut and released in 2017. Sadly, tragedy ensued as the main content hard drive that had most of the film died. The editing file and some of the work-in-progress content was also corrupted. Franco gave up on Apocalypse and on The Doll Chronicles.
It wasn’t until around 2019 that things started to look up for the series. An old hard drive appeared with a few of the original files, including more of the music. An old iPad also had more of the original music as well. Little by little Franco decided to try to restore some of that content and to restore another old drive that he thought might have some more of the original material. During 2020, he had recovered enough of the film that he saw he could perhaps finish the film, not his original, overly ambitious vision and story, but something more conceptual, and more in line with the original The Doll Chronicles concept.
In June 2021, it was finished and is currently entering the festival circuit with a planned public, online release late in the year. Franco Esteve‘s apocalyptic score will be released on July 14th, 2021 and includes a lot of the original musical concepts developed for that long lost version of the film. Find out more about the soundtrack at Franco Esteve’s website here.