Contributed by Sandra S.
In honor of Women in Horror Month, we had the opportunity to interview Gigi Saul Guerrero of Luchagore Productions. Gigi is the director behind short films such as EL GIGANTE and MADRE DE DIOS which features the talented Tristan Risk (American Mary, Harvest Lake).
Give our readers the Luchagore Productions history lesson. How did Luchagore Productions come to existence? Has filmmaking always been something you wanted to do?
Luchagore Productions became official in late 2013. It all began in early film school of 2009 when I met one of my best friends, talented cinematographer and Co-founder of Luchagore, Luke Bramley. We seemed to be the only Horror fanatics in our class and we loved working together on our school projects. Then we met our other Co-Founder, Gordon Cheng, who seemed to have similar interests as us, so we made our first short film called DEAD CROSSING together. Since that moment we started meeting our make-up, costumes, art department and other Luchagore members who all seemed to be in love with horror. Lastly, we met Raynor Shima, Co-Founder and Producer of Luchagore Productions on the set of our final project in Film School CHOOSE YOUR VICTIM web series.
Raynor was a set decorator on our set and he attended our “rival film school” haha! But immediately Gordon, Luke and myself said “Who the hell is that guy?! He needs to work with us more!” and with one conversation he became our producer.
Soon after that we made our first viral hit EVIL DEAD IN 60 SECONDS which exploded all over the internet and got us on many incredible horror websites. It was the very first project that got our name out there. I remember from that moment on, I told the boys we need a team name, and of course the whitest guy in the team (Luke Bramley) is the one responsible for our kick ass name “LUCHAGORE PRODUCTIONS”!!
You know what… at first I was sure I wanted to to do something with the arts. Ever since I was a little girl I was weirdly obsessed with mistakes in movies. And I mean things hardly anybody would notice. I would watch films over and over until I found a mistake. Especially with classic animated Disney films, such as Bambi and Cinderella. I couldn’t stop pointing out mistakes in continuity. But then my interests went towards drawing and painting. I was sure I wanted to be a cartoonist and/or animator. Then I started acting in Musical Theatre and drama, I was in love with acting. But then I booked my first commercial at the age of 13 or 14 and BAM! The lights, the cameras, the crew, I was so curious as to how a film was made and I knew immediately I needed to be a filmmaker.
After seeing your work, I started to use “Luchagore” as a descriptive word because your work is unlike no other. The style of your work is very gritty and has tex-mex influences. I assume that is rooted from your nationality. Does that come authentically/naturally, or done with a conscientious intent?
Haha amazing! I think every filmmaker’s goal is to be able to have their work be recognized as their own. I am so excited that our team has really created our own unique brand of horror films. The progress of our team’s work has really grown and every project became more our own. I can always tell when looking back at our early shorts how we would use inspiration to other films, but that’s normal! A lot of people comment that it is copying other styles, but when you think about it it’s not true at all. You need to experiment many styles that interest you so you can find your own filmmaker voice and what suits you best. In our case we are now pretty well known for our gritty/dirty style of Gore and of course the Tex-Mex influence. It does come a lot where I am from, which is Mexico. I am the only Mexican in the team and I love using my background’s traditions and cultures into our films. I know for our team they love it because they get to play and explore in a territory that is not similar to them. I love seeing everybody’s interpretation of our stories and create a Luchagore world!
I watched the behind the scenes of DIA DE LOS MUERTOS. It was mentioned that the message was to turn the table on those that dragged women into human trafficking. Where did that idea come from?
DIA DE LOS MUERTOS has been an idea I have had in my head for a long long time. One of the biggest issues in Bordertown, Mexico (and many other parts of the world) is women go missing and are never found. Human trafficking is a one of the most horrible crimes out there and I was really tired of how many films were touching on the same subject and it was the same thing over and over again. None of these films made the girls strong or have revenge or anything! It was always about an outside source or outside characters trying to find them. I wanted to change that but Luchagore style.
Day of the Dead is one of my favourite traditions Mexico has to offer, it’s so rich and so beautiful and I wanted to combine both.
You have mentioned that there will be an EL GIGANTE feature. What can you tell us about that?
GIGANTE GIGANTE GIGANTE!! I can not even begin to explain how freaking excited I am about this project. Ever since I read Shane McKenzie’s novel “Muerte Con Carne” which is where El Gigante comes from, I knew this had to become my first feature before somebody beats me to it. It’s exactly everything I have ever dreamed of. Tacos, horror, Bordertown, Lucha Libre and a shit ton of GORE!! Can’t get any better than that.
The short film has really created a fan base and buzz internationally and has had such an amazing festival run. The interest for this feature is high and I can say it will happen! We are currently developing the feature and hope to film it before 2017. But Luchagore has landed bigger gigs that could potentially change our lives. 2016 is going to be filled with hard work from Luchagore! Stay tuned…
That’s exciting! Speaking of which, this February is Women in Horror Month! You did a segment for the Women in Horror Month Blood Drive PSA. Some could say it is a controversial little piece. But, I thought it was hilariously macabre. Why do you think Women in Horror Month is important? How did you get involved with Women in Horror Month?
Women in Horror Month is an amazing organization showcasing the recognition of females in the horror genre. It has been a pleasure and honour to be invited two years in a row to be part of the Massive Blood Drive PSA by the Twisted Twins Jen and Sylvia Soska. God I love those girls. However one big change I liked this year is that male filmmakers were invited to participate in the PSA!! At the end of the day, sure it’s great that there is a recognition for females in the genre, but I just want to be recognized for my work regardless my gender. In this case females in the industry are looked over a lot more often than a male’s work, but that’s no advantage or disadvantage, instead I look at it as motivation to work harder to prove myself and my team’s work.
Would you ever consider doing a horror-comedy or any other genre?
Of course!! I really love all kinds of films. I love when a film can really make an audience feel something and allow the public to express their reactions. Right now, horror is something I really want to build my skills on and explore different sub genres within horror. Once I feel ready, I want to try out my ultimate favourite which are violent dramas that really hit you hard! I am excited to keep experimenting with different styles and genres in filmmaking.
You had once mentioned that you admire Rob Zombie’s work. What’s your favorite movie of his and why? Any other directors out there who inspire you as an actor/director/creator? Why?
Rob Zombie is a genius and he is not afraid to push the limit. He has proven to stay true to what he wants to do without anybody changing his mind. Although he has had movies that didn’t do so well he just keeps going. He has a beautiful style I am obsessed with, his films are so raw, real and dirty. His style of filmmaking breaks a lot of the old school rules of filmmaking and he makes it work. THE DEVIL’S REJECTS might be one of my favourite films of his! To me that was a true horror film! He manages to create these horrible villains that you hate but at the same time you can’t help but love them, even though they do horrible things on screen. But ever time they enter the frame we manage to cheer and smile! How many films have managed to do that with such horrifying characters that appear so real? Not many in my opinion.
This applies to my other big filmmaker’s that have inspired me and influenced my work and that is no other than Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro G. Iñarritu just to name a few.
What do you feel the horror film industry needs these days?
It’s simple.. The horror film industry needs to stop making God damn remakes and expand to new and fresh filmmakers who have fresh ideas and styles. If you notice in the festival circuit, amazing horror features are being made and those are the kinds of genre films that Hollywood is missing out on. We keep seeing the same thing over and over, remakes and franchises being remade. Slowly, this is changing and great films have been coming out in the last couple of years, but I wish this could be a faster change.
What is your best advice for someone who wants to make a short film on a micro-budget?
JUST SHOOT AND GIVE’ER!! Honestly, money isn’t the most important. I have made most of my shorts with a budget of $100.00-$500.00 only! Focus on your story and remember the resources you have access too, then write something around that that is compelling.
Always start small and go bigger and bigger. The most important thing to remember is to NEVER be afraid of failure. You must always finish your projects, even if you hate how it is looking because you will be able to look at it and notice your mistakes, and gain skill and knowledge for each project you make.
In short words: just go and make something.
If you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be doing?
Ha ha ha Oh man. I have many dreams. Is it bad I secretly want to be the next Latina Victoria Secret Angel? No joke!
But I love the arts so much, I would probably be an actress or an animator. But believe it or not, for my entire childhood and teenage years I was very intense with sports. I was sure I was going to be an Olympic athlete. Sports was almost like an addiction. I played competitive volley ball, hockey, ringuette, swimming, track & field and tennis! But slowly the arts began to pull me away until I fully committed to film at 19 years old.
Now I just do pole dance (and I suck miserably, but give me an other year of practice)… wait! I am not suggesting I want to be a stripper!! ha ha ha