Cult Projections: What's your earliest memory of a horror-themed show on TV or in the cinema? What was it that excited you?
Gigi: I wasn't allowed to watch Horror films as a little girl (like most kids). In general, feeling scared was somewhat of a thrill for me. I really enjoyed it and made me curious to know more!! Also in Mexican culture there's so many scary legends told to us as kids that I was extremely attracted to them. One of my earliest memories was how much I loved walking in the “Horror” aisle at the Blockbuster near my house. Looking at all the cover posters of the films made me so curious yet so scared! Until I watched Child's Play as a little kid … Ha ha, I couldn't finish the film! I immediately turned it off; worried that that was going to happen to me. And I didn't watch another horror movie until nine years old: The Exorcist. I wanted to get scared!! My parents refused to let me watch a horror film with them.
CP: How do you compare watching movies at home in your living room to seeing a movie in the cinema? What are the pros and cons of each?
Gigi: Cinema theatres are where films were originally seen. I would rather watch a film in a cinema than at home, because there are no distractions, the image is sharp, and the sound is crystal clear! But then again, it costs money, and some patrons are annoying, etc. Although watching it at home you can also get distracted it does have its perks! You control your time and pace of watching films at home. You can talk or eat during the film, etc. Not only that but the technology is so advanced you can now get any film you want off the Internet! Both options will have pros and cons that we all relate to, but at the end of the day being in the cinema is where my inspiration for film grew, where I really felt that I was part of a different world.
CP: What are your thoughts on test screenings? When should a director stop bowing to the demands of what supposedly the audience, or an executive, wants?
Gigi: I think test screenings are fantastic to a certain extent. I would do test screenings to hear what works and what doesn't to improve my film but not to favour what the audience wants. I find doing test screenings is good to find that balance where the filmmaker is happy with their art and the majority of the audience gets it. Now if the film isn't made for a client it's always best and I highly encourage to always make the film you want until you feel it's ready for a test screening. Doing any kind of showing at an early stage I find is a bit difficult to get the point across to an audience. I know some people will disagree with me, but I stand strong that to make your art the way you want it to be seen, only do a test screening if you need to find out if there is something missing.
CP: What about Hollywood's increasing demand for remakes?
Gigi: Oh man … I am really not a huge fan of remakes, especially horror. But I mean I have been surprised and excited about a couple remakes that turned out really awesome! But I absolutely love seeing new and unique story ideas; it's really what inspired me to become a filmmaker. I understand that remakes are easy money grabbers … But hey!! If I got hired to do a remake I would probably freak out from excitement! Because at the end of the day we are making movies!
CP: Roman Polanski once replied that "atmosphere" was the most important element of a movie. What are your thoughts?
Gigi: I could agree with that, but I don’t think at all that it's the most important element, I am pretty sure it is the “story”. I find filmmaking is a visual way of telling stories, scenes, scenarios or even situations. I find from the moment the script is written you know you have a good film. You don't need a big budget or lots of resources, you just need a good story to begin with.
CP: Your background is in post-production, what parts of filmmaking do you like best; writing, shooting, special effects, editing, cast and crew screening? What, if anything, frustrates you?
Gigi: This might sound really cheesy… But the entire process of bringing a script to life is my favourite thing; as a whole. I am huge fan of directing and being able to share with my team the vision and ideas for the story. Now that I am thinking about it, I really enjoy editing! My shooting style is really specific because I shoot with an editor’s mind. At times my crew seem confused by my shot choices but that is because in my head I already know how I am going to cut it together. I love seeing it come together in the editing; it gets me so excited!
Over all the art of filmmaking is everything, and I love seeing what other members of the team being to the table.
CP: Is humour important in horror movies? If so, how? What horror-comedies do you enjoy, if any, or do you prefer your horror played straight and dark as midnight on a moonless night?
Gigi: Humour in comedies is fantastic! Not everybody will enjoy gore and dark violence on screen. But everybody loves to laugh, so why not mix both horror and comedy? In a way horror movies put audiences in a state to experience situations that do not necessarily happen to everybody. Horror films are able to let you experience emotions you wouldn’t experience in real life; horror that is actually happening in the world. Violence is not okay, but in films it is. When you mix comedy in horror it's also a way to release tension and give laughter to grotesque situations that we would never laugh at in real life. To me humour is important because no matter who you are or what language you speak we all understand laughter. Comedy is universal.
CP: What are your thoughts on the collaboration process of screenwriting? Do you work the same way with each person?
Gigi: I have been lucky enough to work with writer/author Shane McKenzie on all of the most recent projects we have at Luchagore Productions over the past two years. He and I have the same sick and twisted mind that our ideas always end up working out beautifully. Not only that but something we have that is crucial and important is trust. We are able to easily feed each other suggestions and we listen. Our system of working has stayed the same since day one – I give him the general ideas or concept of what I want to film, for example, I say to Shane, “I wanna make something cool where a guy tortures his victims in a bull-fighting fashion. He only fights women and has them wearing bull heads on them. Oh and these girls are half naked … Go!” And in a day Shane gives me a script … And that's how M is for Matador was born (Part of ABCs Of Death 2.5).
P: Tell me about El Gigante the feature, what can we expect? Where does the short sit within the feature? Was your first short, Dead Crossing, another precursor? Will you aim for a U.S. hard R-rating?
Gigi: El Gigante feature is happening thanks to the help of Raven Banner Entertainment. We have partnered with them and I know that will be a huge step to making this film a reality!
I have written the feature screenplay and I absolutely love it! The short film was based on the first chapter of Shane's novel, and the feature script is based on the entire book! So of course things will be slightly changed here and there from the original novel, but Shane said to me, “I love the feature script better than my book!” And to me that was a huge sign that we are going in the right direction. Our goal is to make the next best horror film with the villains we love. Bringing back the kind of horror film where you are cheering for the bad guys. I can promise the feature has the same and more elements from the short film! It's absolutely insane and gory and hell! And yes, If I could make this film a “triple R” I would. But Let me tell you that the second half has scenes that will probably have the film banned in a few countries … So let’s say it's rated R for now heh heh ;)
CP: Several of your shorts embrace the occult and the dark underbelly of Mexico. Are they all from the same reality, the same universe, so to speak? What interests you about black magic and demonology?
Gigi: I will continue to bring some of my Mexican background/culture to my films as much as I can. Mexican culture is so rich with endless traditions and legends. Bringing my heritage into the genre of horror has been so much fun because I am able to give it a dark twist and make it unique. When you watch a “Luchagore” film it looks like it comes from the same universe! Our style had made a staple mark to be gritty, gory and have a fun “TexMex” feel to it. Also on our last short Madre De Dios we played with many different elements: Santa Muerte, cult rituals, religion, and even the Antichrist. It’s not that it necessarily interests me, it's because all those elements scare me. Making horror films is a way to cope with your own fears and I really wanted to make something that gives me chills.
CP: Do you have a definitive all-time fave list of movies? If so, please list the top ten. If not, what five currently rock your world?
Gigi: Hahaha! Arghh, this question drives me insane!! My list of favourite films easily reaches fifty to one hundred! I like all kinds of movies, but what I will do is list the first teb that come to my head! Children of Men, The Devils Rejects, Amores Perros, Pan’s Labyrinth, Sicario, 21 Grams, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), [REC] & [REC] 2, Inglourious Basterds, and Gremlins. BAM!! Oh man, that was hard …
CP: If you could adapt a novel or graphic novel, what would it be?
Gigi: I am already on it!!! I am not joking when I say that Shane’s novel Muerte Con Carne (El Gigante) was the first time I said to myself “I must make this into a film!” It was just everything I always wanted! Lucha Libre, which I love, and so much gore! The story stood out to me a lot as well because of the social commentary on border crossing and cannibalism. It's the perfect norror novel in my opinion.
CP: What movie(s) have you seen that genuinely disturbed, frightened, or possibly offended you?
Gigi: I will never forget how traumatised I was after watching The Exorcist when I was around nine years old in the cinema when it was re-released as the restored “director’s cut”. I wanted to get scared so badly and begged my mom to take me, and that was the first time a film did that to me and it stayed with me for a long time. Still do this day I feel uncomfortable watching it. Brilliant movie. Now I don’t usually say I would get offended but I was really pissed off while watching A Serbian Film. I almost finished it twice … I still can't finish the rest of the film. I really am not the type to stand torture porn; It really isn't enjoyable to me. I love gore, but in a different context. The film is really well done and it must be a good sign that it affects me so much watching the situations in it. As a filmmaker we have to make our audience feel something. If they don't feel anything or simply forget about what they just watched then we didn't do our job as a storyteller. So for that I give props to A Serbian Film, but fuck, I ain't finishing it.
CP: If you could host a dinner party with six industry guests from anywhere and from any period in history (directors, actors, technicians, etc), who would they be? What movie would you screen after dinner?
Gigi: OK!!! Well let's sort the banquet first. My special dinner party would consist of deliciously spicy micheladas to drink, maybe some good tequila and mezcal (gets people to break the ice easier, heh heh) and I would totally get some home made Mexican food going! Pozole, enchiladas, you name it! As for my guests, now the problem is that I would invite way too many people. So I will stick to a few that pop in my head first. Oh! And let's pretend I am close friends with all these people. I would invite Tarantino, Eli Roth, Pedro Infante, El Santo, Robin Williams, and Ellen DeGeneres. Ha ha, it took me at least a minute to think of a good combo of people. What movie I would screen? Ha ha, I would probably screen The Mist. Why? No clue, I just freaking love the ending of that film and every time I show it to people the reactions of the end are priceless. So I would wanna see their reactions to it ;)
Am I too random?
CP: Just a little loco! Thank you Gigi, can’t wait for your first feature!