Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

Teaser: 'El Vecino'

Giancarlo Ruiz's "El Vecino."
Giancarlo Ruiz
Giancarlo Ruiz's "El Vecino."

A Work in Progress from Giancarlo Ruiz

Another what are they doing now... I like to keep tabs on filmmakers whose works I've showcased. Giancarlo Ruiz, whose short films I included in more than one Film School Confidential, has an ambitious project in the works right now.

Seeing that Film School Confidential alumni Destin Cretton and Ron Najor just had their film accepted into Sundance's Next program made me think about what some other alums were up to and right at that moment Giancarlo Ruiz sent me a link to a teaser for his new film and it certainly was a tease because his films defy conventions.

Ruiz's student films and early works display a penchant for experimentation and pushing the envelope. In films such as "Insecto," "Oxigeno," and "St. Jacques," he shows no interest for conventional Hollywood structure and storytelling, and instead opts for something less linear, more impressionistic, and altogether provocative. He got to screen "St. Jacques" at the Cannes Film Festival in France, and is currently working on an entirely improvised piece set in Mexico called "El Vecino (The Neighbor)."

"'El Vecino' is about an ex-kidnapper trying to fit back into 'normal' society but he finds himself repeating the same patterns from his past of observation and monitoring with his next door neighbors," says Ruiz, "For this movie I did not have a script but merely an idea of what I wanted to do: a character study. I began having these images of this guy spying on his neighbors and monitoring their lives. I started to question 'who and what is behind the walls of a building, an apartment or a house.' The transparency of it all seemed absurd within a society trying to maintain a certain front of what is actually happening and not talking about it. I realized that the 'neighbor' idea has always been present in society, always behind some gates, some walls dividing other walls, sharing space and so forth. Today with globalization everyone is a neighbor in one aspect or another especially with technology and the social networks."

Here is a teaser for the film:

"El Vecino" Teaser

Ruiz did not begin with a script but rather with 2 to 3 sequences planned out.

"That was about it," says Ruiz, "I talked to some actors who are knowledgeable in improvisation and told them the idea, there was no script, and the dialogue would have to be created at the precise moment of shooting. The only rules of engagement were: density, complexity and above all honesty to commit 'errors' in the process of acting. With that in mind we started to shoot the film, with no money and a rotating film crew. As we were shooting the film I began taking direct snapshots of the film, a frame for reference to see where we were going and from there with the actors we began constructing the story. Working without a script can be scary but at the same time it was liberating not having any blue prints. The improvisation permitted the actors more freedom in their search for the right state of mind with their characters. The process of discovery was very genuine and dangerous like walking on a tight rope without a net. It was all about following our instincts and trusting each other and believing we had something interesting at the end of the day. The feeling I had from the crew and actors was that it felt like an Easter egg hunt and everyday we were on our toes to find that special egg. At the moment I am starting editing the film and looking for finishing funds. The film should be ready by next year."

As always I look forward to seeing Film School Confidential alumni maturing and advancing their craft and art. I'll be watching for "El Vecino."