Horrible Imaginings Film Fest Wrap-Up And Mexploitation Cinema
Cinema Junkie / September 15, 2016
The seventh annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival wrapped this past Sunday. Here are interviews with filmmakers from around the globe who came.
Beth Accomando: Welcome back to another edition of the KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast. I’m Beth Accomando. This past weekend, I attended the Seventh Annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. I’ve been working with festival founder Miguel Rodriguez since the festival started because we both share a passion for horror and the macabre. The festival was great, and I had the opportunity to speak with a number of film makers as well as a number of horror writers.
In fact, I got so many interviews and recorded so many panels that I’ll be splitting my wrap up about Horrible Imaginings Films Festival into two podcasts. This one focused on horror film makers, and another one airing the first week of October featuring horror authors, as well as director Billy Hansen who did a superb film adaptation of Steven Kings' Survivor Type that played at Horrible Imaginings.
So, for today’s podcast, I’ll be speaking with a handful of filmmakers about their craft, and about expanding our expectations of the horror genre. I’ll end with a wild discussion of mexploitation cinema with the one and only Aaron Soto. First in this round up of the Seventh Annual Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, I checked in with Justin Dentin in the lobby of the Museum of Photographic Arts.
Justin debut the final version of his film Burlap in both the traditional 2D version and supplemental Virtual Reality companion piece. All weekend, he had a booth set up where people could experience the VR world of his film. I spoke with Justin and with two people who saw his film in its 2D form, and then tried the VR experience.
Justin Denton: So, we're at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival here in San Diego, and I have a Virtual Reality experience called Burlap Reflections set up here in the foyer area. And then I also have a short film showing in the theatre.
Beth Accomando: Tell me about your film Burlap. What is it about and how does this VR portion of it kind of play into it?
Justin Denton: Sure. So, Burlap is a psychological horror film about a young lonely serial killer, who is attempting to put the pieces of his past back together in human form. And that’s the, kind of, the traditional short film, and then the VR experience is a sister piece to that where you get to experience what it’s like firsthand to be in his basement.
Beth Accomando: Tell me your name and tell me what you’re about to do here.
Caroline Flannigan: Caroline Flannigan, and I’m about try Virtual Reality for the very first time.
Beth Accomando: All right, let’s see what happens when you try it.
Caroline Flannigan: Okay.
Justin Denton: This right here is the diopter. You’ll adjust it till it’s in focus for you and adjust the distance to the screen. Once you have that on, I’m going to hand you this headphones and you’ll put those on, and then I’ll have you stare at this square that says Burlap BR I’ll tap this side of this for you, okay.
Caroline Flannigan: Okay.
Justin Denton: So, do you see a play button now or?
Caroline Flannigan: It’s working. It says dark corner.
Justin Denton: O, there you go, you’re in.
Caroline Flannigan: Wow.
Justin Denton: And don’t forget you can look around.
Caroline Flannigan: Okay. Almost – wow, oh God, this is not a happy story. Uh-oh. Oh, my gosh.
Beth Accomando: Are you done?
Caroline Flannigan: Oh my gosh.
Beth Accomando: So, what was that like?
Caroline Flannigan: I’m speechless which never happens. That is most amazing experience. How – it’s so – wow. That was quite amazing especially the very, very end when you turn around and you get the reveal of the face. It felt – I’m glad. It felt like almost getting a heart attack. That was so much. It was so real. It was so real, my God.
Beth Accomando: So, you saw the film first and then did the VR experience. Did you feel that that was the best way to see it or do you wish you saw the reverse?
Caroline Flannigan: I’m glad I saw the film first because it was so good, and so detailed. This to me was a little upsetting possibly because it was my first time, possibly, but it was very off balanced, and it was a whole new experience. It was a whole new experience. And the idea, figuring out that you could actually turn your head and see everything, it was almost science fiction. It was as much science fiction as it was reality for me.
David Reins: My name is David Reins. I experienced being a severed head I think from the movie Burlap. A blinking severed head which is really trippy.
Beth Accomando: Yeah.
David Reins: I would say see the movie first and then – because you know then what's going on and then you understand that you’re a severed head. And then when you're – it's cool actually. I’ve never done any VR like that before, which is why I had to sit down because I was pretty sure that if I kept looking up and down that I was going to fall over.
Beth Accomando: Do you think this a cool addition to the filmmaking process to add this kind of element to a film?
David Reins: I think it’s inevitable that this is going to take the place of 3D. I just – I don’t see how it won’t. If you’re going to wear something on your face, it might as well be something that’s a complete 360 sphere, rather than staring at a flat screen. Yeah, so yeah, I think it will be inevitably.
Beth Accomando: I heard something.
Justin Denton: Go back to bed.
Beth Accomando: I heard something really bad.
Beth Accomando: So, the actual film is slightly longer than the VR experience, and it’s – I guess you’d call it a traditional 2D version of the film, correct?
Justin Denton: Right, yeah. So, Burlap, the traditional piece is11 and-a-half minutes long, and it’s shot very much like a modern horror film. Kind of, for how short it is, it has a little bit of a slow burn feel to it though, and that was something that I’m really – I’m in love with slow burn horrors. And I wanted to see if I could fit that into like a short form, kind of a piece, and then also some psychological elements that’s kind of the traditional piece. And then I wanted to see what of that I could carry over to the VR experience.
Beth Accomando: And how does the VR experience play into the film? If somebody is going to see your movie, do you recommend doing the VR experience first or the film first or what’s the order that you think is best?
Justin Denton: Well, that’s a tough one to answer. I, kind of, right now, I guess I’m feeling like the VR experience first, just because VR in general gives you a much better sense of an experience of what it’s like to be somewhere, but telling a story in VR is very different to telling a story in traditional media on a screen.
So, one of the things I wanted to do with the VR piece was give you enough to where you, kind of, understand what this killer is capable of, and kind of the places that you’ll go during the film, but not so much that you understand the entire storyline that happens in the traditional. I don’t think I would call it a teaser for it, but it is – it, kind of, sets you up for the mood that you should be in when you watch the film.
Beth Accomando: Now, for some people they associate, I think VR with kind of a gaming world. So, how are filmmakers, kind of, using it that’s different from that kind of experience?
Justin Denton: Yeah, I think when a lot of people think of VR, they immediately think of videogames much like you said, but one of the things that I’m seeing quite a bit more is this 360 video or even pre-rendered computer graphics. Like last year, I created the Beware Crimson Peak piece that was a teaser for Crimson Peak itself. That was all CG but it was pre-rendered so it wasn’t a videogame experience.
So, when you’re talking about, kind of, trying to do a narrative in the VR space, you’re basically accepting as a viewer that they're taking over control of where you’re going to go, when you’re going to be there. We can edit the film down for you and things like that, so we can make things happen at a very specific time. So, it’s just as opposed to creating the story yourself while you’re going through it, the story is being unfolded for you by a director.
Beth Accomando: I was just at the ScareLA Convention a little while ago, and I have to say that compared to last year, this year, there seem to be dozens of VR booths, and I didn’t get to go to all of them. Some of them seem to be related to haunt experiences, some of them seem to be for films or some sort of other non-gaming kind of entertainment. Has there been like a sudden, kind of, rise or boom in applying this VR technology in ways beyond gaming that’s been differently recently?
Justin Denton: I mean I think, to me, it’s being going on for a while. I work in Virtual Reality every day, so like I don’t notice it as much as I think the rest of the general audience would. But the main reason why I think you’re starting to see a lot more of it is there’s more headsets available. So, with the advent of the Gear VR which uses a phone and now they're even handing those out, like, when people do pre-orders for their phones sometimes for free and things like that, so it’s getting in more people’s hands. And then, we're about to see the PlayStation VR come out, which there’s a ton of PS-IVs out right now.
So, we're going to see a whole lot of this PSVR headsets come out as well which just means that there’s a larger audience for it. So, I think that’s where we’re starting to see more content. Specifically in the horror genre, I think the reason why you’re seeing a lot more VR is that VR and horror just get along beautifully. You know, it’s an isolated experience just based on the way you put a headset on it and you’re shutting out the world, which already makes some people feel claustrophobia or some form of paranoia. And, you know, you have those two before you’ve even put any story together, any visuals or sounds or music. And so, it really plays into the VR scope really well.
Beth Accomando: And how are you seeing this play out in the future for you? What kind of things are you imagining that this could do for you? Can you see an entire film just in a VR environment? Or do you think it’s always going to be kind of a component to something else?
Justin Denton: I don’t think that it has to be a component to something else. I mean, I’ve worked on pure VR experiences now as it is. And so, I think in the scope of wanting to tell a bigger story, that it might be at least initially be safer to break it up into smaller chunks, think almost like episodic, you know, maybe it would be a 60-minute piece that you would breakup into 10-minute digestible chunks that you could space out when they're released. That way, you can kind of have a little bit of fun with it almost like Steven King novella style type thing, like he did with The Green Mile. You know, something like that where you’re just releasing small pieces of the story at a time, and you’re waiting for that next little mini episode to come out.
We love binge watching things, so I think that that gives us the opportunity to create the content in smaller pieces which, to be honest, creating VR content takes a lot of time. So, like a 10-minute VR experience is going to take a good amount time, and a good amount of money depending on who will pay for the content. But if we could do that where you have this nice digestible chunks that would maybe, you know, each section would come out every month, then after six months or half a year, somebody could choose to watch it all at once if they want to, but some people only like having the headset on for a short period as time as well.
Beth Accomando: And what was the challenge for you in terms of shooting it in both formats? Did that add to a lot of your production time or is that something that you can easily, kind of, work into the schedule?
Justin Denton: I would say that actually depends more on your sets than anything else because the whole thing with VR is that you can see everywhere. So, if you can see in full 360 and you can turn all the way around, it depends on if you’re shooting in a natural location that you don’t have to build out that set in every place then that will work out quite well for you. If it’s an actual designed set and you haven’t designed it with four walls and a ceiling in mind, it can be more difficult. Mine in particular, I had a three wall set, so I actually had to deal with, oh crap, they can see the fourth wall, what do I do about it that, and I came up with some clever, like, plastic sheeting ideas and things like that. And luckily, my ceiling already looked pretty good, so I was okay there.
But you do actually run into some additional problems with lighting and things like that as well, like, where do you put your lights, because now you can see your lights. And those are things that we’re so accustomed to, you know, throwing up a bounce card or something like that so your actor's face looks better. But now, you would see the bounce card, you would see the DP, you would see the director, you would see video village, like, there's all of these new problems that come in where you now have to hide everything and get everybody out of the way and figure out how to still make the image look beautiful.
Beth Accomando: And how have people been reacting to it here? Because you’ve been this for two days here at Horrible Imaginings and people have recently had the chance to see the full length short film and also experience the VR, so what kind of feedback or reactions are you getting?
Justin Denton: The feedback’s been really positive and interesting. And it’s been fun to kind of hear some people think that the – actually you know what, the things that’s been most interesting is people arguing whether they should have seen the VR first or the short film first, and I’ve heard a lot of people go back and forth on that. And it was funny that you asked me that question earlier because some people are like, well, you know I wish I could have seen the VR first because then I wouldn’t know as much about the killer and as much about the story.
And other people are like, well, now that I know about the story, I’m happier being in the VR experience because now it told me more of what I needed to know. So, it's kind of a funny like back and forth between them. I do think that as far as the VR experience, some people are naturally just scare-der by putting that headset on, kind of, because the isolation comment that I made earlier.
Beth Accomando: Well, it's interesting for me when I was – I tried the VR experience and my friend was doing it next to me, and just at a point where the killer was, kind of, like walking up towards the camera, my friend reached out and touched me, and I had this moment of like, wait a minute, it’s just not visual. I think I jumped a little.
Justin Denton: Yeah, you know what’s funny is, like, VR, sure it’s a visual experience, but another thing that I do have in my experiences that really helps with kind of what you’re talking about, is I use spatial audio. So a spatial audio, when someone is to the left of you and they talk, you hear it clearly come out of the left ear. And it’s not just the same thing as stereo because with this, if I turn my head towards that person and I hear them, now they sound like they’re in front of me.
So, it's kind of like stereo mixed with the ability to understand where your head has turned and changed the orientation of the way that the speakers are working within the piece. That alone, mixed with the imagery, starts to make you feel like you’re really there a little bit more. So, then when someone goes and touches you, like what happened to you, you’re liable to jump out of your skin a little bit.
Beth Accomando: Well, it seems like there are so many more things as a filmmaker that you have to take into account because that notion of sound, it sound to me, especially in horror films, is so key to creating that experience.
Justin Denton: Yeah.
Beth Accomando: And it just seems like you are creating way more things, that you have to be conscious of and paying attention to.
Justin Denton: Oh yeah. It's – I mean, basically everything that you used to rely on as tricks in film, kind of, go out of the window, and now you, kind of – you have to reinvent how you deal with a lot of these different techniques. That being said, there are some that you get back. You know, in a theatre if someone is watching something and it's too much for them and it’s too scary or something like that, and they want to turn away they can turn away and be looking at their friend or their loved one in the theater and they know they're safe.
In VR you turn away, you’re still in that room with the killer or whatever else is going on. And so for everything that I feel is like is taken away from you as far as your known tools, you've get another one back.
Beth Accomando: Well it seems like – and again, this is because I saw a lot of these VR booths at ScareLA which caters to a lot of haunts and people who like to going to haunts and home haunters and things.
Justin Denton: Sure.
Beth Accomando: And it just seems like there is also this potential for haunt situations where if you add some physical elements as well, like, you know air coming at you --
Justin Denton: Wind machines yeah. Yeah, I mean and honestly, I’m a part of – I’m sure, maybe you saw the logo show up on the short film in the VR dark corner. I created this piece with the assistance of Dark Corner Studios which is a horror VR experience company. One of my friends who is the owner of the company, Guy Shelmerdine, he created a piece called Catatonic which you are actually put into a real wheelchair to experience the piece and the wheelchair has what we call a butt kicker on it and it does vibrate and move at certain times when things happen during that film. I won’t spoil that for anybody who gets to experience it, but it definitely adds something.
So, when you add, you know, the visuals plus the audio, plus some type of a sensory element, you do start – your brain starts to buy into it. You know you’re in a false situation because you physically put it on, but you hit a point where you do start to forget just a little bit and it becomes a little bit scarier.
Beth Accomando: Are you a little bit sadistic in terms of the kind of things where your brain is going to what you can create for people?
Justin Denton: Well, I would say we have a responsibility as filmmakers, but because this is horror we have a responsibility to try to scare the piss out of you and that’s our point. So, it's a great opportunity I guess is the best thing I could say, you know, as in VR because there aren’t that many rules yet like you have in film where we know what works and what doesn’t, we’re always trying to do something new every time we create a new experience. And with that with horror in particular, we want to find a new way to scare you that maybe you haven’t seen before. And I think it’s working out pretty well so far.
Beth Accomando: And how has this experience been for you here at Horrible Imaginings? Is this the first time you’ve been able to screen the short in two versions and interact with people or have you done this before?
Justin Denton: This actually is the first time I've done it in a festival, so this is it. It’s absolute festival premier. I did show an earlier unfinished version of it at Master Pulitzer in Los Angeles in both forms, but it was a little bit more free form. It wasn’t as organized. Horrible Imaginings is very well organized. It's been very cool to be a part of it, but this is my first, like, festival experience where somebody is walking directly out of the theater and then over to experience the VR. It’s been great.
Beth Accomando: And do you feel you’ve learned anything from interacting with the audience?
Justin Denton: Oh, absolutely. I mean, there’re things that I need to improve on as a filmmaker as most of us do. But I think what I have learned is that maybe I could do even more with the VR part of it, to where it expands on the story in a fashion where either it answers questions that people may walk out from the film or vice versa. Right now, they're more just sister pieces and they exist in the same universe, but you’re not necessarily learning something entirely new about the killer or something like that. So, I think I could give you just a little bit more information maybe, and I think other than that just to try to scare you more.
Beth Accomando: I think what would have been really interesting is to have, like, two pieces of the VR where you see one before you go in and then one after you come out.
Justin Denton: You want to book end it. I think --
Beth Accomando: Yeah.
Justin Denton: -- that’s a great idea. So, I would love to actually to be in a fashion where I could control it, like, maybe that’s, you know what, I think that might be the biggest thing. Like, if I could make it to where you had to watch the VR to experience my short film, and then you had to see some other piece because then I would know that I’m crafting something for you. So, I think that’s been the bigger challenge with knowing that I have two pieces, it's like, okay you’re going to see one before the other one. I may or may not be able to control when that happens. But if I had that absolute control as a storyteller, as a creator, I think that would be pretty fascinating.
Beth Accomando: Can you foresee a time when a theater venue could be equipped to do that to, like, have its own like, okay, put on your VR, watch this thing. Now, you’re going to watch the short, now you’re going to watch something else.?
Justin Denton: That’s a good question. I think that’s – it’s kind of a tough one to answer. I don’t think that they’ll ever be equipped to do that for, like, everything that comes through, but we are hitting a point where now that you do have the option to, like, as a venue for an event to rent a number of headsets and things like that. So, I think with that, with the proper number of volunteers or participants helping out make it happen, yeah I think there’s a way you could do something like that.
Another kind of shifted way you could do that as opposed to full VR, you could put these 360 experiences in a dome, so then they would have to walk through the dome experience to go into the theater. So, then the kind of interesting thing about a dome experience as opposed to VR is, you’d walk in and its projected. And you’d be able to turn and look and look, but you would also then be with whoever your companion might be for going into the film or some of your friends or something like that, so maybe four of you could experience it at a time together. And then you would go into the theater, so that could be kind of cool.
Beth Accomando: Well, thank you very much for your time.
Justin Denton: Thank you so much.
Beth Accomando: That was Justin Denton who made the film Burlap which screened in two versions at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. One was a traditional 2D version of the film and the other a Virtual Reality experience. Horrible Imaginings Film Festival has a reputation for showcasing a fair amount of female filmmakers in fem-driven films. So, it’s only fair to make sure some women get their voices heard on this podcast. Izzy Lee directed Casey Lansdale in the short film Postpartum. Casey explains the basic premise of the film or at least all you need to know. Then Izzy joins in on the conversation.
Casey Lansdale: Well, the synopsis is that not everyone is meant to be a mother. And so, you can kind of make the leap that it’s a horror festival, it’s called Postpartum.
Speaker A: What? I haven’t seen you in months. I -- I tried to call you but your phone is disconnected.
Speaker B: Thanks but I don’t appreciate you banging down my door. The baby’s sick.
Speaker A: The baby? You have a baby? Why didn’t you tell anybody?
Speaker B: I was – I tried.
Speaker A: Holly, what’s wrong?
Speaker B: He stopped.
Speaker A: Who stopped? Holly? What happened? Oh, what’s that smell?
Speaker B: I think you should leave. The baby is sick.
Speaker A: Oh, Holly, where’s the baby?
Speaker B: Leave.
Beth Accomando: This is one of the small handful of films that was directed by a woman and focuses on a female character. So, how do you feel women in horror being represented these days? Do you think that there are enough women working in horror and enough of them getting to festivals?
Izzy Lee: I think festivals are still largely male, and I see this at every single festival that I go to, is usually nine white guys and one woman if there’s any women at all. And that’s just how it is right now. And it’s sad and I think things are slowly changing and I can’t wait to continue seeing that happen live.
Casey Lansdale: I feel like there are definitely more, specifically at this festival, more women that I have seen at a horror event than I have seen in a long time. I feel like Miguel, whether it’s that he works extra hard to make it an inviting environment for women or maybe it’s just a place where women feel comfortable around him, or maybe it’s a just a place where there's more women in horror. It’s hard to kind of tell, but I do think that Horrible Imaginings is reaching a broader female base, and I think that the films that they're choosing are more female-based. I think – I mean, they had the little girl who was the heroine of a very creepy film that I don’t want to say too much about. I mean you --
Izzy Lee: Little Boy Blue is the name.
Casey Lansdale: Little – yeah and --
Izzy Lee: It's amazing.
Beth Accomando: Yeah.
Casey Lansdale: And you know, you just would not have seen that and the victim was a little boy instead of what, you know, you always see the little girl is the one being traumatized and not that either is good, but it’s definitely an emphasis on making the female the heroine. There’s more female directors that are feeling confident to put themselves in this environment because it is a male-dominated environment, so it has to be a place that feels welcoming and I think Miguel definitely creates that environment here.
Izzy Lee: Absolutely, I mean fuck yeah Miguel. No seriously, I have to agree 100% with that. I know Miguel from working on Visceral with him. So, he was already in that position where he was looking out for lady filmmakers, and you know other points of view. I definitely think there’s a part of that that he’s already there and looking specifically for us.
Casey Lansdale: Right.
Beth Accomando: In terms of how you approach horror, do you feel that as a female filmmaker, do you want to do something that feels very specifically, like, it comes from a female filmmaker or are you more interested in just making a film where somebody watching it can’t tell?
Izzy Lee: Yes and no to both questions. I mean, I don’t direct with any of my nether parts, so it’s hard to divorce that from any sort of reality. But when I did the film Innsmouth, I specifically wanted to have nearly 100% female cast because it's something that you don’t see hardly ever, and it was also kind of like a kick to love craft being, you know, tremendously, famously misogynist and racist and all that. So, it was kind of like a kick and yet like a nod okay.
Beth Accomando: Yeah.
Izzy Lee: I dig love craft but yet I acknowledge that there’s problematic aspects of, you know, that authors' personality. But I just want to make interesting stories and I think that women bring a really different point of view when you look at what’s been seen in mainstream cinema versus what we can create. And as a horror fan, just from that perspective, I really love seeing something different. I’ve been addicted to horror films and books and anything in culture I could get my hands on ever since I was a couple of years old. So, it's just – it's always like where's my next fix going to come from and, like, what can I get, I'll get it, well I'm going to try some new drugs you know, so.
Casey Lansdale: And I don’t know how to answer that question as – because I’m not a film, but I look for --
Beth Accomando: And you’re a writer too?
Casey Lansdale: As a writer and as a – I guess as an actress, you want to tell a good story. And I think that for me I do, kind of, specifically err on the strong female side. And I, kind of, want you to know that there’s a female back there, kind of, giving you the boot. And there's a little sick pleasure that I get from that because especially where I'm from, I’m from East Texas, I’m from the south. And there’s still a lot of oppression there for people of color, for females. I live in Los Angeles now and so it’s even more clear when I go back home just how far we do still have to go. So, I really enjoy, kind of, that moment where I can go, yeah a woman wrote this and there’s a kickass female protagonist. And I’m going to take parts that allow me to explore assets of a female part that you might not otherwise see.
Like, when you talked a little earlier about Postpartum, I mean that’s a very real thing that affects very real women. And people don’t really talk about it because women aren’t allowed to show feeling because if they show feeling, they're either crazy or they're an emotional mess. So, I think it’s important to explore that in all aspects because everybody feels emotions, everybody has different, sort of, reactions to that, and if it’s based in a female viewpoint, then for me all the better.
Beth Accomando: Well, it seems like you want to strive to get to the point of, there’s enough women making horror that you no longer get designated as oh you're --
Izzy Lee: Female, yeah.
Beth Accomando: -- a female horror filmmaker. You're just a horror filmmaker.
Izzy Lee: It would be nice. I hope to see that day. I hope I’m still alive.
Casey Lansdale: And that’s a long time coming. You know, and I think that it's – that’s not – I don’t think that’s going to be in even my lifetime because I think that there’s such a feeling of women are dainty, women are soft and you know what, there is something too. There are a lot of soft and dainty women, but there are some soft and dainty men too.
Beth Accomando: Oh sure.
Casey Lansdale: And I think that rather than looking at that as a negative, which we all kind of do sometimes just inherently because that’s our society, I think we just look at that as like, okay that’s a person who has this feelings, instead of that’s an effeminate man or an emotional woman. You just go, okay, that’s a human and they're having this experience.
Beth Accomando: Well, I got to interview Bret Marling and I don’t know if you’re familiar with her work.
Izzy Lee: Yeah, yeah she’s great.
Beth Accomando: Yeah, one of the things she said that I thought really kind of hit it on the head is she said that she wants to be involved in films where it’s a female character driving the plot. It doesn’t matter if she’s a positive role model, a negative role model or anything else about it, but that it’s the female character that needs to be moving it forward not just following along or something.
Izzy Lee: Well, that’s the thing. I mean, for how years have we been used as plot devices?
Casey Lansdale: I literally had the same conversation and that’s what – I mean unfortunately the interesting characteristic of a woman is that she was raped, beaten, abused.
Izzy Lee: Exactly.
Casey Lansdale: Then there are something that was done to her, and I mean --
Izzy Lee: And then the man gets to take revenge --
Casey Lansdale: Exactly.
Izzy Lee: And that's the whole story.
Casey Lansdale: And that’s hard --
Izzy Lee: It makes me fucking crazy.
Casey Lansdale: But you know --
Izzy Lee: Or she gets kidnapped --
Casey Lansdale: Unfortunately, that’s all based in reality though. And it's – we’ve got to move away from that mindset. And it’s kind of like a stereotype exist because you know a stereotype is still a stereotype because there’s moments of that. And I think that definitely there are some interesting characters that are created because those things happen, but that can’t be all of us and all of our creation.
Beth Accomando: No.
Casey Lansdale: And you don't want to lessen someone who’s had that experience and become this person because of it, but that doesn't make that your story, that’s just something that happened.
Beth Accomando: Right, like I had tacos for dinner.
Izzy Lee: Right, you know, who gives a shit.
Casey Lansdale: I like that one.
Beth Accomando: I like you.
Casey Lansdale: I’m into tacos, I love tacos. I put [indiscernible] [00:29:59] on mine.
Beth Accomando: Me too. That was amazing. So, what do you love about horror? What keeps you working in the horror genre?
Izzy Lee: You can express things emotionally, politically. And you can do a whole universe of stuff in horror that you can’t do in other genres, man. You can do the worst, the craziest, the most fucked up shit. You can express – I mean, I got into filmmaking because I got really pissed off with what was going on in the world, and it was – filmmaking was never something I set out to do.
I was a writer. I was an artist. I was a film festival programmer and a journalist, and I just wanted to explore and see if I could do it. So, horror is just besides having been addicted to it forever, you know, you can do a whole of crazy stuff and that’s really fun. It’s super fun.
Casey Lansdale: I think for me what I really like about horror is the stories are great and I think that’s a wonderful aspect of it, but I think that people in horror are the nicest people.
Izzy Lee: It’s true.
Casey Lansdale: And I think it’s because they exorcised their demons. And I think that the people who allow themselves to be so raw, and so vulnerable and show their interests in a failed, sort of, system in a failed world those are the people who are the most sensitive, the kindest because they're able to kind of express all sides. There are a lot that people keep hidden. I mean, you don’t really want people to know your dark side. And I feel like people in horror go, okay, this is just another facet of who I am.
I mean, Izzy, is a great example of that. You know, she’s into horror but she’s one of the nicest people that I know. I mean sincerely. And you just – you find a community of people who go, oh I get it. And that’s what everybody wants, it's to feel like they’re part of the group.
Beth Accomando: And where did the idea for Postpartum come from?
Izzy Lee: Well, my crazy little mind said, all right, I’ve met Casey Lansdale and I think she’s amazing and I’ve seen her sing, so I know she can act.
Casey Lansdale: Oh, I love you.
Beth Accomando: And I wanted to give her a different kind of voice in another medium. I had seen her – a friend [indiscernible] [00:32:10] had played Christmas with the Dead and she had been given, you know, no detriment to the film or your dad's writing, but she had been given a very small role, and that was like a one no angry wife role.
And it makes me mad to see a one dimensional female character because we’re so much more than that, you know. So, I wanted to, sort of, showcase what I thought that she could do, and she pulled it off brilliantly. So, the idea of the story itself was exploring that taboo postpartum depression, but I wanted to also make it even more than depression. I wanted to also give a little bit of psychosis in there which you see more than a little bit I think.
Speaker A: You don’t hear that?
Speaker B: Hear what?
Speaker A: The screaming. He never stops screaming.
Izzy Lee: It did start off as an absurdist horror comedy called Screaming Baby Him.
Casey Lansdale: I remember that. She sent me the first copy of the script. I was like, oh.
Izzy Lee: Yeah, and we’re going to, like, maybe, I was going to, like, curve a face into, like, a piece of spam or something and, like, have it actually, like, screaming in the blanket, like, it is going to be super stupid. It isn’t funny. And then I just started writing it, Mike you know what, this doesn't feel real. This feels really false and it's stupid and I don’t like it. And then I just started writing something really dark, and I just gravitate towards madness, I guess, I don’t know.
Casey Lansdale: I mean, she actually – she really was very kind and said, you know, I want to see what we can do in a medium that is completely different than what you do. I’m mainly a singer/songwriter. I write a little fiction and I have been dabbling in the acting side, and I really enjoy it. So, it was nice to, kind of, take something that was unfamiliar and to, kind of, make it my own, to allow myself to go to a place that I haven’t as an artist. She’s putting bruise makeup on my face and conditioner in my hair and make it look oily and it’s just – anyway, it’s so different than when I’m on stage for a performance. You know, you want everything to be very proper, very pristine, you know. You have a certain branding that you’re going with, and it was a lot of fun for me to get to explore my darker side via Postpartum.
Izzy Lee: I totally ruined your branding. I’m sorry.
Casey Lansdale: It’s okay, the Lansdale Brand runs deep, so.
Beth Accomando: All right. Well, I want to thank you both very much.
Izzy Lee: Thank you so much, Beth.
Casey Lansdale: Thank you so much.
Beth Accomando: That was Postpartum actress Casey Lansdale and Director Izzy Lee. Next up are some cheery blokes from across the pond, Director Phil Hayne and Writer Mark Brown. They created the British do-do humor film Stained. It takes that horrific moment when you realize you’re out of toilet paper and turns it into a darkly comic tale.
Speaker A: No, Good God, no.
Speaker B: Harris. Where are you going Harris?
Speaker A: I’m sorry. I was just --
Speaker B: You are clean, Harris. You haven’t wiped.
Speaker A: I know, but I’m going to clean it up. It’s just – I’ve run out of paper.
Speaker B: Oh, you're very forgetful, Harris.
Beth Accomando: I’m here at the Horrible Imaginings Film Festival. It’s the seventh year. We are sitting in the catering room back here trying to find a quiet spot to chat. And you guys have come quite a ways to come for this festival?
Mark Brown: Yeah indeed, we’ve come from London, England to sunny San Diego to show our short film at Horrible Imaginings. It’s our first time here and it’s absolutely brilliant. We had a lovely time.
Phil Hayne: I think you’ve encapsulated everything there but yeah, we’ve travelled a long way. It was, first stop in New York then San Diego, run to L.A. later today, so it’s a lot of miles, lot of miles.
Beth Accomando: Your film that you’re showing here was Stained and when we we’re – I was part of – I was on the Selection Committee and I remember getting a note saying like, oh you need to watch this. It’s classic British do, do humor.
Mark Brown: Was that from Miguel, by chance. Yes, indeed we’ve been told our film is very British, but then so are we, so right, yeah it’s something else.
Phil Hayne: The phrase British do-do humor is my favorite thing of this festival so far. It's – yeah, that’s a very American way of describing it, I would say in fact. Yeah, this is very British. It kind of purposely, so I think because it felt, kind of, standard sort of British sitcom situational of an exasperated human trying to get somewhere and we take that to obviously the extreme.
Speaker A: Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me. Is that all the toilet paper that you have? Yup.
Speaker B: This is taking too long, Harris.
Speaker C: Looking for something special like?
Speaker B: She knows Harris. She can smell it on you.
Speaker A: She can’t.
Speaker C: Can’t what?
Speaker A: Ah, special. Yes. I was looking for something a little more absorbent, four ply.
Speaker C: The good stuff?
Speaker A: Yes. The good stuff.
Speaker C: This isn't bloody Harrods', darling. What you see is what we got.
Speaker B: Ha! She toys with you. She knows.
Speaker A: What about kitchen towel?
Speaker B: Think they will wipe it all away like soup off a stone?
Speaker C: Oh, some of them wet wipes, if you’re feeling fancy.
Speaker A: Yes. Where?
Speaker C: Next to the bloody toilet paper. Where’d do ya think?
Speaker B: Thank you.
Beth Accomando: The amusing thing is, you’re not the first British do-do humor film to screen at Horrible Imaginings.
Phil Hayne: Got it.
Beth Accomando: I think Miguel may have a thing for this, so I’m just saying.
Mark Brown: We found his weak spot.
Phil Hayne: So, now you know people. Now, you know how to get into this festival.
Beth Accomando: Your film was part of a horror comedy block. So, talk about, kind of, this intersection of horror and comedy and what it is about that that kind of works.
Phil Hayne: They're both about, sort of, payoff and delivery, I suppose. You set up a joke, you put a punch line, you set up a scare and you deliver it. So, I think there’s a certain similarity with that. Why they mix so well together? No, I think they offset each other, two sides of the same coin. Perhaps, there’s a certain thing in the laugh, you know, laughing at a joke and sort of screaming or jumping in a moment. They're both involuntary, sort of, physical reaction. So, they’re very similar in that way although they, sort of, produce very different feelings. So, I think they’re two ingredients which can complement each other really well when it’s done right.
Mark Brown: Yeah. It’s I'd say, it's a tension and release thing. You crank up the pressure, let it out at the end and that’s [indiscernible] [00:39:39] same with scare, same with the joke, often one can feed into the other. No, it’s a – you can undercut the scares with a laugh and then the scares have more impact or the laugh has more impact. You know, the more extreme you can push it. It’s not something I'd, you know, think about when I’m writing. You know, it’s just, literally it’s just the way I write stuff. I can’t take anything particularly seriously. So, yeah that’s that.
Beth Accomando: Now, your film wouldn’t be what I would conventionally call horror. So, how do you feel about being included in a horror festival?
Phil Hayne: We’re very happy. I mean horror, I mean is a mega genre in itself and has so many sub genres, absolutely delighted. I mean, the film when Mark and I were discussing about producing the film, you know, I mean festival was certainly part of the consideration because we’ve been to some great comedy festivals. We've been to some great horror festivals.
And to be perfectly honest, we wanted to make a film that would be accessible to both those genres. I think that easily two of the best genres in terms of the amount of festivals available to go to and to get into. And so, yeah it was actually we did something we don’t normally do, which we actually thought tactically in business sense instead of just like going, oh that’s great, we've got to do that and then running around with a camera. That was not strictly true but, yeah, but still yes.
So, that was – it was a conscious decision to make a film that would be a comedy and a horror at the same time. So, yeah, it had already – Mark had already written. The script was created, but we – yeah, that’s why we wanted to do it because we can get into both festivals.
Mark Brown: Right yeah, I mean it’s kind of all that stuff we’ve been doing, kind of build – we're trying to build up to like obviously doing a feature and more modern [indiscernible] [00:41:20]. It’s going to be a horror comedy probably because that’s [indiscernible] [00:41:23] reasonable success. I mean that – so, we’re kind of trying to kind of push more into that direction and see where it takes us.
So, I wouldn’t say this – it wasn’t, you know, I didn’t write the script consciously for festivals. I mean, I’d written for, I think before that anyway, and I think that when we’re choosing what we were going to do that this one seemed like the sort of logical choice to --
Phil Hayne: Yeah, indeed.
Mark Brown: -- kind of, cover all our bases that we wanted to get covered.
Beth Accomando: One of the things that hooked me immediately on the film is you have these beautiful opening close-up shots of this man making tea. And so, how did you decide that that’s where you wanted to start it and that’s how you wanted to shoot it?
Phil Hayne: As Mark has already alluded to the original script was – actually it was created for a different thing. It was created for a podcast which was something Mark was going to produce, and writers had a project called I think a podcast which very successfully ran for a couple of years. And so, we had this and obviously we had to adapt it for the screen, and the podcast kind of started off with the gentleman in his, sort of, compromising position.
So, but I felt for the film, it was important to – I think we developed the script when we were, sort of, adapting the idea and pushed on and I really wanted to establish this character. And so, I said we need to establish this character as, you know, sort of, as an obsessive compulsive, somebody who has to be tidy, everything has to be done perfectly and exactly right. And when things go wrong and any kind of mess, any of kind of dirt, it's extremely upsetting for him. And so, I said, I think well, how are we going to do it in you know, really you’ve got 30 seconds at the top to do it max. Maybe a little bit more. And so, yeah that was the decision to have him doing that in just a really sort of fiddly way.
And then obviously when I started discussing it with my director of photography, we worked at how we can, you know, do this and we thought well we got [indiscernible] [00:43:33], we've got our montage. Our editor is absolutely fantastic and he was able to piece it together, and I found the music that I liked and I said that’s what we’re going to use and it was born.
Mark Brown: Yeah. I think it’s just about establishing the fastidiousness of the character, so when things do go wrong for him, you kind of understand why. And it’s a high impact moment when you think, oh dear, if this is about to go tits up.
Beth Accomando: What is the one shot of – I think it’s when the biscuit falls into the tea cup and that phrase tempest in a tea cup comes to storm.
Phil Hayne: Storm in a tea cup, yeah that was when Mark, you first drafted adapting the script, that was something which you put in there.
Mark Brown: Yeah.
Phil Hayne: And it was like, yes that was perfect.
Mark Brown: It’s a visual metaphor.
Phil Hayne: Yeah.
Mark Brown: And so off, you know. It has similarities too.
Phil Hayne: The Blob.
Mark Brown: Since we couldn’t really show the act of, you know, the next bit, the dirty bit, that was a kind of a – sort of nice visual representation of what was about to happen.
Phil Hayne: Yeah, nice plopping sound.
Beth Accomando: You mentioned that there might be a feature in the future. So, where are you going from here? What’s kind of your next step after this film?
Phil Hayne: I hand over to Mark because he’s just directed and written our company’s first feature film, so he's currently quiet deep into post-production. So, I’ll let him talk about that.
Mark Brown: I just did a film that I wrote and directed, it’s called Guardians and it stars two of three actors of Stained. And most of the other actors we've ever used, pretty much, calling in a lot of favors. So, that’s just – we're just finishing the edit for that and it's about to start on the Sound of Music and all that shenanigans. So, hopefully that will be ready early next year I think is the plan, is the hope, fingers crossed. And yeah, so I’m – yes, that’ll be cool. It’s a kind of a comedy thriller. So, it may be here next year. We’ll wait and see if Miguel likes it and if it’s horror enough for him. So, we’ll see. But it’s very similar in its humor to Stained.
Phil Hayne: Stained has done very well for us. We’ve had a lot festival in quite a short space of time and some prestigious ones such as Horrible Imaginings as well. So, we’re very lucky with that. And so, we wanted to try and develop it more. So, we’ve currently got – we've come up with an idea we think works to take some of the ideas of Stained and develop it further into a horror film. Not necessarily with the same character or even the same scenario, but some of the core ideas and it’s going to be very silly and quite disgusting. And we figured if that’s what’s working for us at the moment, if it ain’t broke you don’t fix it, so, yeah.
Mark Brown: We did try and think of, like, just an expansion of the idea of Stained, you know, just try and get the characters. But it’s just – it is a short film. And it kind of just, it lends itself much more to a short film than a feature. So, we kind of took the themes really and what we liked and what we thought would work and, sort of, all kind of fell into this weird silly idea, which I don’t suppose we talked about yet because it’s not far off down the line.
Phil Hayne: Exactly, it’s still brewing.
Beth Accomando: Are there any filmmakers or films that have influenced you in terms of your own filmmaking?
Phil Hayne: Yes, I think certainly. And it sounds kind of weird. I mean, obviously I love watching movies. I watch movies okay, but I don’t consciously try and say I want to make films like that guy or that guy lady or whoever. I try and sort of keep stuff, kind of, I think stuff seeps into us by osmosis and it influences you, the stuff that you love. You want to try and emulate that, but I don’t ever do it consciously. I think I just – I try and make stuff from my own head as much as possible. It’s not about the pretension of striving to be an original voice. It's just, I like to do things that way. I like to think just to become [indiscernible] [00:47:25] like that. So, I don’t consciously reference any particular, but I'd say I have lots of favorite filmmakers and favorite movies, but yeah.
Beth Accomando: I was just wondering if there was a point at which you saw a film and you go like, I want to do that, like, I want to make movies.
Phil Hayne: Oh yeah. Yeah, as a kid, I have three brothers. As a kid, I used to get home and they always wanted to watch Transformers. So, when I wanted to watch [indiscernible] [00:47:45] then they go outside and play football, so okay. And I would stay inside and watch the genre of the bus that kept moving because I absolutely loved it.
So, I guess that and then there was another. There was a film called Problem Child 2 which I was – I was taken to see as, kind of, an eight or a nine-year-old and I came out of it, and I was like, oh, God, I could do better than that. So, I did have a go, can’t say I have done it yet.
Mark Brown: Yeah like Phil, I can – I watched loads and loads of films and I think the influences just come out by osmosis. They just kind of happened. And so, it’s never one specific thing but yeah I mean, there are films I grew up loving. The ones that made me get into films was, kind of, a lot of fantasy stuff to begin with. It was Wizard of Oz, Jason and the Argonauts, Shitty Shitty Bang Bang, that kind of stuff. And then by going to some very adult films at a very young age, like six or seven years old when I was watching like American Wolf in London and --
Phil Hayne: [Indiscernible] [00:48:38].
Mark Brown: [Indiscernible] [00:48:39], that's just pure quality. And you know, quite a lot of horror stuff and I’m surprised my mother let listen to it. I watched it actually because she banned me from watching like Nightmare on Elm Street and Robocop. But she would let me watch The Terminator and Mad Max and stuff like that so.
Phil Hayne: Nightmare on Elm Street was my first grown up horror movie . I watched it when I was nine or ten at my maid Chrissie's house. It was, yeah. That was a fantastic moment. It was like, I could really do this. It's brilliant. So yeah, very exciting, yeah, wonderful first film to watch for any of us.
Mark Brown: [Indiscernible] [00:49:11] John Landers has a lot to answer for my things because the comedies that I did and the horrors, both like Trading Places and American Wolf reflect the two greatest films, and so I think they’ve been very influential on me, those, particularly in the horror comedy kind of combination because American Wolf is the perfect horror comedy yeah. He’s the best.
Beth Accomando: All right. Well, I want to thank you two very much for coming all the way out here and also for doing the interview.
Phil Hayne: No, thank you very much. We’ve had an amazing time. I can’t say enough brilliant things about Horrible Imaginings and Miguel [indiscernible] [00:49:43], and yourself and all people who work so hard to make it happen. So, we'd like to offer our sincere thanks. We’ve been treated wonderfully and had a great time. So, thank you so much.
Mark Brown: Yeah, absolutely. I want to tell you that it's been brilliant. It’s been one of the best festivals we’ve been to and we've been to a lot. So, we will be back definitely if they’ll have us.
Phil Hayne: That is a threat and a promise.
Beth Accomando: That was Phil Hayne and Mark Brown, the creators of Stained. And hopefully, they will be back at Horrible Imaginings, but with a feature film next year. And finally, let’s talk mexploitation cinema. Aaron Soto is a Tijuana filmmaker whose work is inspired by the likes of Clive Barker and David Cronenberg, but also by a tradition of genre filmmaking in his own Mexico.
These films are often referred to as mexploitation cinema. Aaron had a panel on the topic at Horrible Imaginings, and then he took the time to speak with me about something he loves dearly. Aaron started his panel with a clip from the Mondo macabre documentary about mexploitation cinema.
Speaker A: Horror and fantasy films proliferated in Mexico in the mid 1950s when the country’s cinema industry was experiencing tough times. Combining elements of Mexico’s indigenous folklore with European catholic tradition, these films have a very special flavor. The style draws on old horror classics but adds a distinct touch of the macabre. From the 1930s and ‘40s, Mexican movies were exploded all over the Spanish speaking world. Their mixture of music and high drama combined with a touch of the exotic made many of them top box office hits. Their success led the foundations for a small but highly creative film industry.
Aaron Soto: Mexican exploitation cinema. I know you guys are here at this moment because you know a little bit of Mexican exploitation, maybe too much, maybe not too much. You know, El Santo, right? [Indiscernible] [00:52:01] Mexican wrestlers, right? [Indiscernible] [00:52:06] It is very well-known around the world that the Mexican exploitation cinema comes with [indiscernible] [00:52:14] Mexican [indiscernible ][00:52:16] with mask, like Zorro. There is an urban myth legend and I think they made three movies, some of them in the Mexican Golden Age. And you might know [indiscernible] [00:52:28] that is kind of like old version of Dracula.
But there’s a lot of stuff that happened in Mexican cinema that happened right after the El Santo films or the [indiscernible] [00:52:41] films in between the ’90s. Because in the ‘90s, we have one guy saying, I’m going to make general movies in Mexico and when I shot them beautifully and it’s going to be very poetic and very surreal and the name of the guy is [indiscernible] [00:53:01]. Do you know [indiscernible] [00:53:02]? What I say is that between the ‘60s and the ‘90s, there was a big, big hole or emptiness in Mexican genre cinema. A lot of stuff that people don’t know, a lot of stuff that people never seen, and a lot stuff that even in Mexico wasn’t that popular. So, that’s why we’re going to try to see it today.
We want to talk about movies. I’m going to show you some pictures maybe some posters and we want to play clips because that’s the whole point. We can talk but we need to see some stuff right? Hello. And I just want to say that all these stuff that I’m going to play today, most of the stuff is very rare and very hard to find. So, some of those clips that we’re going to see today are from – transfers from old video tapes, from VHS to DVD. So, don't worry about that. Maybe you see like [indiscernible] [00:54:10] maybe some pixels, but the whole point is to understand, to appreciate and to realize that Mexico – in Mexico in between the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, we do have exploitation movies. So, are you ready to start? Hello, are you ready for mexploitation?
Beth Accomando: That was Aaron introducing his panel at Horrible Imaginings. Now, for my interview with him. I am here at Horrible Imaginings Film Festival, its seventh year. And I finally tracked down Aaron Soto so that I can get an interview with him. And I met Aaron when he was at South Western College making student films, and I had the great privilege and honor of showing one of your first films Omega Shell. So, we go back a little ways.
Aaron Soto: And yes. In fact, what I always, always, say and I’m going to say it right now, I started my career with you. Actually, you started my career. You were the one person who told me, you’re doing something special, let me play it. And I say, oh no, no, I can’t believe somebody like this. And I guess you liked it. You played it. You played it on the [indiscernible] [00:55:35] Museum of Photography and Arts in San Diego. And I was surprisingly shocked that it was a big success with the audience. And I didn’t expect it. I didn’t even know how to react or how to talk. I was in shock, but that day is still with me all my life.
For me, that’s the day that I realized that I could do something in film. And that’s all thanks to you that. So, when I was coming this year to the festival, it was very emotional to me because this is where everything starts and it starts with you. So, yes, I’m really emotional about it.
Beth Accomando: Well, it doesn’t start with me. It starts with you because you are phenomenally talented. The film he did Omega Shell when I saw it and I heard you made it for like $200 and shot it on videotape, and the production design was amazing, the story was amazing. There were images in there that were so strong it was just brilliant.
Aaron Soto: I made a movie for me and I never realized living in Tijuana that I could really be a filmmaker. In Mexico back then was really hard to be a general filmmaker. It was really hard to be a filmmaker, so when I come to the U.S. and met somebody like you, that’s when I started thinking that maybe my voice could find the audience going outside of Mexico.
And that’s what happened with Omega Shell. You put in the map and then everybody started talking about it, then other festivals starting to play it. And then one day, I met [indiscernible] [00:57:13] and he say, oh yes I saw Omega shell. And it was surreal, but it was thanks to one people who believe and that was you, Beth. I still can’t believe it because, because yes it a $200 short film than kind of changed my life.
Beth Accomando: Well tonight at the Museum of Photographic Arts for Miguel Rodriguez's festival Horrible Imaginings, you had a panel on mexploitation cinema and this is part of what influenced you in terms of the kind of film that you eventually would make. So, what was the idea behind doing this panel?
Aaron Soto: For many years, there were like a group of filmmakers and many film titles that impact my life in Mexico. Of course, I grow up watching David Cronenberg movies and David Lynch and [indiscernible] [00:58:00] and all those guys. But we, kind of, have our version of [indiscernible] [00:58:06] Mexico or we, kind of, have our own version [indiscernible] [00:58:11] kind of like revenge movies or kind of like [indiscernible] [00:58:14] films, but the only movies, Mexican movies, genre of Mexican movies that people knew outside of Mexico were Santo films or Dracula films, but not these sub-genres from the ‘70s and ‘80s.
So, for me it was very important to starting to cultivate the audience who come and watch my movies so they can look to Mexican cinema through all these forgotten filmmakers and forgotten stars. And this wasn’t planned for me, like, I’m going to become this guy who’s going to talk about mexploitation for 10 years. But then people turn to ask me to do you like master classes and panels in Mexico, then in Canada. Then I turned around and I say, yeah, I’m starting to be like the guy, the only guy talking about these outside of the country. You know, there’s a couple of book and there's people who talk about this but not in a deep way.
For me, to Miguel, to call me and say you know what, I think it's time to put Mexico, Mexican genre cinema on the map. Everybody knows El Santo but Miguel say but we need people to know Lin May, to know Fernando Almada, to know all these people who made it even greater. And I say let’s do something I say to Miguel, Miguel, I would be glad. This is probably the best thing you ever asked to me. So, we did it. We did it.
Beth Accomando: What do you remember of seeing these films when you were younger? What kind of an impact did they make on you?
Aaron Soto: It was really designs were real because it wasn’t like in America that in the ‘80s or late ‘70s that they tell you, this is Charles Bronson, this is [indiscernible] [01:00:04] film or this is Mel Gibson, Josh Miller, and this a post-apocalyptic movie Mad Max. It wasn’t like that. It was like come and watch this Mexican movie. You wouldn’t even know it was a genre, a sort of genre. You didn’t – nothing.
Then you see this Mexican sheriff in Texas. Okay, Mexican sheriff in Texas speaking Spanish, of course and fighting this 12 bikers who happened to be punks. But who happened to be punks that looks like Mad Max part 2. And they started to rob and rape people and stuff and then this sheriff say, okay, I’m going to fight these punks, but I’m not going to only use my guns. I’m going to use my whip. And, of course, that was going to another universe.
And they wouldn’t talk to you about genre. They wouldn’t tell you this is sci-fi or this post-apocalyptic. Probably they wanted you to feel like this is the present day, I don’t know. But it was an experienced, a surreal as the movies. And I guess that’s kind of like a reflection of the country that into the traditional of [indiscernible] [01:01:16] realism, that to watch a movie, it wasn’t only a movie. It was also an experience.
So, for me as a child, it was shocking. It was more shocking to watch this type of movie than El Santo films. El Santo was a regular wrestler that you can pay and see fighting. And then you can pay and see in the movies, but these horror guys, you never knew nothing about it. So, when you see movie like a Texas sheriff fighting punks in bikes, of course, that’s something that you never, ever forget your whole life.
Beth Accomando: So, when you first saw some of these mexploitation films, were at that point seeing them and thinking like this is something that I want to do or were you just watching them as an audience member and just engaged by what they were saying?
Aaron Soto: Yeah, that’s a very good question. Something happened in Mexico between the '60s and the '90s that were genre films. They were like, like really well shot. It wasn’t like the best filmmakers or like beautiful visual. Some of them were really beautiful images, but most of them were really low-budget, cheap and shot really fast. It was really similar to the Royal Coleman '70s films or really similar to the Running House, the New York Running House movies of the late '70s and '80s.
So, when people like [indiscernible] [01:02:45] started to make movies in the '90s, everything was beautiful. You know, the images were beautiful, the movie were very well shot. So, when you watch Mexican exploitation movie, when I watch them, I didn’t want to make that type of movie. I never even think about it. After I saw stuff from [indiscernible] [01:03:04] when they were living in Mexico and doing movie – Mexican movies, because what they did is show me that we could be like, we could have a good technicians and good photographers and good musicians in movies.
So, I started to realize that the guys who did movies who did movies before them, they didn’t have the best budget. They didn’t have probably the best technicians, but they have awesome ideas too. So, that's when I started to try to be like them. But at the beginning, no at the beginning it was more as entertainment and I mean at the same time I couldn’t watch something like Basket Case or like Miss 45 and [indiscernible] [01:03:51] watch something like [indiscernible] [01:03:52] or something like from [indiscernible] [01:03:58].
So, for me, it was – everything was exploitation to entertain. But now that I look back, I say, oh my God, I can’t believe how many great ideas and awesome movies and heroes that we need to bring back.
Beth Accomando: And what is it about exploitation cinema that appeals to you because there are Mexican arty house films, there are dramas. There's a lot of different kind of films that are being made there, but you seem to be really be drawn to horror and exploitation?
Aaron Soto: What I like is the honesty in that they really talk to you. One thing that we – what we miss right now in Mexico and cinema, I hope we can bring that back is, movies that people can relate to. Like when you mentioned like Mexican art house films, like, I remember [indiscernible] [01:04:46] is like, movies, [indiscernible] [01:04:48] and even El Mariachi was kind of like art house movie, action art house movie whatever. No one could relate to those movies. Those movies are amazing and I love them. But it wasn’t like something that come from the core of the Mexicans. So, I think these types of movies, exploitation movies really talk about reality of life.
Everybody say that those are surreal movies or are extreme movies, but in life you have [indiscernible] [01:05:19]. Life is extreme and sometimes there’re stuff that we don’t understand, and it's better we don’t understand the stuff and it's okay to have, kind of, like awestruck emotions, you know, and I really glorify that. That's probably the thing that I like more of about being a filmmaker, that I can do stuff without trying to give you an answer because I think life is confusing, you know.
I think what I’m saying is that I like the subconscious a lot and that’s why I like Lynch and Cronenberg. Of course, I don’t mean that just as a way to excuse exploitation, to excuse something that it can be like really ridiculous. But I think that there's a charm and there’s a big fascination with the things that we don’t understand, and believe me I don’t want to understand. I like the enigma.
Beth Accomando: Well, also do you think that genre films like that, especially something like horror, I mean it’s almost in a universal language where you don’t necessarily even have to translate a lot of it because so much of it is visual or through audio and music, that it really just kind of gets you on a very gut level that you get a reaction?
Aaron Soto: Yeah, I think what horror movies do at least to me is to show me that life is not that simple. And sometimes, we don’t like to think about it, but even though horror movies are supposed to be like these things with graphic violence and blood and gore, or like a crazy horror or scary, I think there’s a quality of fascination that we really like, like sex, you know, and I’m not comparing horror movie with an orgasm. But what I’m saying is that, it's very attractive and maybe we'll know why, you know. A lot of people think it can be, like, very infantile. How do you say?
Beth Accomando: Infantile like.
Aaron Soto: Infantile like movies obvious films for teens, but I think that’s not the case. I mean, you can’t say of caliber films, the summer films, you know. But horror, like real horror movies from real outdoors, they have more to say about life than anything else. And yes, I love violence in movies, and I love graphic images. But I like too when filmmakers say something about themselves even if we don’t even know them or maybe they don’t know these things, something about themselves and I guess that’s the way I approached horror, like, every time I write a story or I shot a film I’m saying something about my life the way I grow up, or what I used to do when I was a kid something.
Beth Accomando: You started your discussion for your presentation with [indiscernible] [01:08:27], talk a little bit about that film and why it’s important and why it's specifically is important to you.
Aaron Soto: There is something, a secret behind this surreal filmmakers from the '60s and '70s. And I think [indiscernible] [01:08:44] in a way fascinates me as, just like [indiscernible] [01:08:49] film or a Louise Winger film. There is something that related to religion and sex, and in [indiscernible] [01:08:57] and to blood because these are vampire films. Being grown up in Mexico, that is a very, very religious country and very macho country. Religion and sex doesn’t mix and religion and sex and blood doesn’t mix here. So, what [indiscernible] [01:09:17] did to me is to show me that in a way religion and sex can culminate together through this thing that they teach us since we were a kid, like, to fear, to fear sex, to fear God, to fear this and that. So, [indiscernible] [01:09:38] represent that to me. And for me, it’s kind like I see that movie like in a catharsis way, catharsic.
Beth Accomando: Cathartic?
Aaron Soto: Cathartic way, cathartic way. And it’s a movie that every time I finished to watch a movie, I feel like I participate in a ritual. I even saw a movie when I was a kid. I think I saw it the first time when I was, like, 21 years old. So, I was already a man. I already knew about religion and the taboos and sex and stuff, but I think if I talk about in a simple way about the movie, I think it’s a very, very bizarre, disturbing, sexy mexploitation film. And I think this actress, Tina Romero, she do amazing job as a [indiscernible] [01:10:30] and she really, really was brave to do all those stuff that she did in the movie.
I mean, if you look back at the history of Mexican cinema, I think there’s no other actress that have done that, not even [indiscernible] [01:10:46] actress. You know [indiscernible] [01:10:47], you know, he really pushed his actors. But in this movie, Tina Romero, she is over the top.
Beth Accomando: Well and also that film brings up a particular aspect of Mexican horror which is Catholicism plays a big part in these horror films.
Aaron Soto: Yeah, I'll never forget the first question that you asked on automation, and it was about religion because I have crosses in the desert. And back then, I was so shy and so – that I was still in my shell. I wasn’t ready to talk about why I put crosses or why I have this kind of like religious referencing the church. But now that I think back, almost every great piece of art in Mexico, almost every – not everyone, every piece of art though, almost every great piece of art or every great artist in Mexico deals with the conflict with religion and Catholicism. Even [indiscernible] [01:11:57] he was in Mexico but he came to Mexico then he started doing all these movies about Catholicism and he even play a priest in one of his movies. It is really clear, you know, that we’ve been so affected by these religious groups over there.
There are so much pressure about living the life between the mundane and this spiritual world. Mexico is a country where there’s a – they [indiscernible] [01:12:29] means that means the day of the virgin [indiscernible] [01:12:33]. And what is crazy about that day, you say okay yeah whatever, what is that, well, that day no one goes to school, no one goes to work, the whole country stops and there’s this big parade with millions of people carrying the statue of the [indiscernible] [01:12:52] virgin. So, it's very hard to believe than these days that still happen, you know. So, when you’re trying to be a freethinker and try to be intellectual in a country like that, you're always going to have a little bit of religious guilt.
Beth Accomando: Well and the thing too is, it’s Catholicism but it’s not exactly the same as like in Europe or in America. In American churches, if you go in and you see Christ on the cross, it’s this very kind of clean, you know, there’s not blood usually. And he doesn’t look like he’s in pain on the cross. It’s very different if you go into most Mexican churches.
Aaron Soto: Yes, in Mexico even the religious fanatics probably denied it. They're going to deny this, but the whole process of our religion parade or our religion ceremony or our religion ritual is very sexual. And there’s this thing about people letting themselves to be controlled by this one guy who had this special custom, and at the same time they want to represent all these imaginary idols and gods in real life.
So, when there’s these special events and special days about religion – celebrations about religious figures, people get naked. They paint themselves with blood and they like to, kind of, like beat themselves up in a very sort of masochistic or sadist, I don’t know what's the difference between both, kind of way.
This go back to Alucarda when you see a movie you almost can smell the fanaticism, at the same time that you're smelling the blood and the sex, that I think is kind of part of the same thing, like a big frustration that clashed with faith, I don’t know if I’m making sense. But I’m trying to – right now, I’m trying to think about it. And when I see all these religious parades or celebrations on the streets, you feel like these people are really looking at this as if they are searching for an orgasm. Is that kind of emotion because it's raw and is raw and brutal, at the same it's absurd.
Beth Accomando: And I also think that, you know, this emphasis on kind of the pain and the physicality of what Christ went through is horrific, which I think also plays into, kind of, the kind of the imagery you get in some of the films and also that kind of visceral horror that comes out sometimes.
Aaron Soto: Yeah, yeah, like you don’t see people, like, who believe in these types of things. You don’t see people trying to have this beautiful image of God, of Christ. The image they choose to see is a naked Christ in a cross with blood and they cried about it and they pray about it and they are emotional about it. Yes, I think everything goes back to human nature, you know, but of course they’re never going to call it human nature. They're going to call it like spiritual something, you know. But I think what mexploitation movies do to have all these nuns doing this kinky stuff, most of the mexploitation, not all but most of them, you know, there was a satanic pandemonium all those movies.
What they do I think, they really show what the feeling and emotions and mental state of most of the nuns. You know, that is a way to tell your body, don’t be a body, you know. It doesn’t make any sense, you know. That’s why it's so horrific because they are really suppressing these feelings and at the same time any other kind of feeling that they felt they see those feeling as the devil, you know.
So, on the other hand I like it because it strikes the imagination of people, you know. I like the whole Mexican imaginary about Day of the Dead and all that stuff. I mean, that's – if we didn’t have religion in Mexico, we would probably be wouldn’t have the Day of the Dead festivities. So, one thing that is really crazy and insane and hard to believe, it can strike something beautiful like beautiful tales and beautiful traditions and poetic images you know. Day of the Dead I think is a very poetic and beautiful celebration to see. I don’t believe in that celebration, but I like the fantasy and the whole Walt Disney scenario of skeletons walking and stuff.
Beth Accomando: One of the other things you brought up during your panel were, all these women and I forgot the name of what that particular category of mexploitation is, but all these women --
Aaron Soto: [Indiscernible] [01:18:35].
Beth Accomando: Okay, of the dead?
Aaron Soto: Last [indiscernible] [01:18:37].
Beth Accomando: So, tell me about what they were and you talked about how they, kind of saved, the industry.
Aaron Soto: Yes. It was really funny because there was this big [indiscernible] [01:18:48] scene in Mexico during the '60s and '70s where they have these shows like [indiscernible] [01:18:56] you know. So, they hire this beautiful woman who happened to have talent to sing and dance and to dress up really exotic. And it became like probably the biggest thing to do over the weekend. This is on the center of the country like in the main capital of the country, Mexico City. To go to a night club and watch a real performance doing something amazing with clothing and singing and dancing and at the same time, is a beautiful lady.
So, then something happened, something magic happened. A film producer say, oh my God look all these beautiful ladies doing these variety shows in nightclubs, why don’t we hire them and put them in movies because they already have the talent. They were even doing acting sketches on the night clubs. So, they hired this woman to do this these new types of movies like sexy movies, like it wasn’t erotic, and it wasn’t porn. It was comedies with a little bit of skin.
Beth Accomando: It’s a little bit like our burlesque show, kind of thing, a little.
Aaron Soto: Yeah, it was burlesque, totally burlesque. At the same time, they weren’t sexploitation films because we didn’t see any sex in those movies. But what was great about these movies is that somebody created a story about this girl being [indiscernible] [01:20:29] and [indiscernible] [01:20:30] is a word that comes from the word [indiscernible] [01:20:33].
And [indiscernible] [01:20:34] is one of those plastic coins that guys give to woman to dance in, like, in a special bar or special places. I don’t know how you call those plastic coins. But this woman take the coins and then exchanged them for money. So, the name of the coin is [indiscernible] [01:20:55]. So, [indiscernible] [01:20:57] female because in Mexico all the objects are male or female. I know it's hard to explain, you know, like a puerta is female and [indiscernible] [01:21:09] is female and [indiscernible] [01:21:11] ,that's male, well, that's [indiscernible] [01:21:11] thing. So, they create this [indiscernible] [01:21:18] stories and it became like the biggest success ever in Mexican cinema.
So, they start to make sequels, then they started to make more movies about [indiscernible] [01:21:30] and they're starting to hire all these ballets from the night clubs. So, then this ballets became known as [indiscernible] [01:21:40]. And somebody else say these are comedies with sex so they're starting to call the movies sexy comedians, sexy comedies.
So, this is almost the same genre, sexy comedians and [indiscernible] [01:21:56]. The only difference is that sexy comedians, it can be a story about anything. In [indiscernible] [01:22:02], it’s only a story about these girls who get these coins to dance with guys. But it become a subgenre a very important subgenre and it saved the industry. Like, the industry was going down, then all these producers became rich, then all these [indiscernible] [01:22:20] became superstars, and people like the President of Mexico is starting to date them. All the politics, I’m serious, like, they never date a regular guy. They only date politics, how do you say politic man?
Beth Accomando: Politicians.
Aaron Soto: Politicians. It was really crazy because the President Lopes [indiscernible] [01:22:43] in the '80 in early '80s, he said to the most successful [indiscernible] [01:22:49] that she did like a 100 movies and she was so beautiful, so the president said, you know what I order you to marry me. I’m the president. And she married the president. This is a true story, I’m not lying. I’m not lying.
So, it was that big, it was that big. They were the most desirable woman in Mexico. But what people forget is that, of course, they were sex symbols, but what people forget is that they were more than that. They were really hard workers. They were really talented. They were really, really doing dance and singing. As we see them in the movies, they were doing the same thing on night clubs. You can say now, oh that’s easy to do, but it’s not easy to do.
Even back then in Mexico, there was something that a woman shouldn’t do and they didn’t care. So, what happened with them is that they're starting to change the way we perceive and see woman in Mexico, you know. And one that thing that happened that we didn’t talk about during the panel that I wish I could talk about it, is that when the government realized that these movies were affecting the audience, they say, okay, we need to produce these movies. We need to give these guys money or like a grant so they can make these movies because we want this kind of work for some of our projects.
There was a big project that the government was doing in the '70s and that was the [indiscernible] [01:24:25] of the family to, you know, in Mexico people didn’t know nothing about birth control. So, that's why you see all these families of Mexicans, families of 20 people. Oh like, oh these are my brothers, 20 brothers you know. That’s like a cliché and a joke, but it’s true. I have eight brothers and sisters. I have five sisters in [indiscernible] [01:24:45]. My mom was having children almost every year, you know, and that was her job because my dad didn’t care.
So, the government say, we need to stop people having children because we are over populating, that’s how you say it, right? Now you see but this people, if we say to these people that they need to protect themselves or to use the birth control pill or to go to have surgery or something, they're going to say this is going against religion. But because, of course, religion was against that, so the way to liberate the minds of the Mexicans, the government started to support these sexual comedies, these [indiscernible] [01:25:31] movies.
And this is a true story, this is true story. So, they started to produce them and then they draw the big plan, the birth control plan to Mexicans and it works. And it's working, you know, no one say nothing because people started to liberate themselves, you know. And this is a true story. I’m not lying. I’m not making this up. This really happened. So, in many ways, these type of movies and this type of performance and this type of producers and filmmakers really did something and really connect with the real audience. I mean, the real Mexicans. And that’s something that you've never seen before. You know, you see the Mexican golden nation cinema like legends like [indiscernible] [01:26:22] comedian, and they never connect with something real. They were superstars, you know, but in the '70s and '80s, this was people like you and there was a big difference, you know, with these kinds of movies.
Beth Accomando: In the panel you call these women brave for what they did.
Aaron Soto: I think that – I think these mexploitation queens are probably the bravest girls ever in the history of Mexico. What they did in that time they really needed lots of guts to do that. They changed the way to view the way a woman dress in Mexico. Mexico was a country where you couldn’t wear a miniskirt. You couldn’t. And then people started to wear miniskirts, you know. And it was very important because most mothers were married just to be in the kitchen and take care of kids, you know. They could never have fun. They can never do something outside of the house. They can never choose what to do what to wear, and this was the Mexican way of living for so many years.
So, when [indiscernible] [01:27:41] are starting to see look at my body, I don’t care if you think I’m fat. I don’t care if you think I have a big butt or whatever, but I’m doing it and I’m dancing. I’m having fun. These divided a little bit the perception of women, and women in general. They’re starting to – they’re starting to say, okay, why do I have to do all the things that the men say to me. You know, Mexican men were like the machos men ever, you know, like really macho, like, I come back from work and you're going to have my food warm. I don’t care, you know. I don’t care you’re tired, you know. You’re going to have sex with me, I don’t care. So, that was so sad.
Beth Accomando: And Miguel is working through his festival right now.
Aaron Soto: Yes, and of course --
Beth Accomando: Doing things that a festival director probably shouldn’t.
Aaron Soto: Exactly.
Beth Accomando: Oh there's the generator. Do you need help?
Aaron Soto: That's the secret of this festival, like, he’s working a lot. And I think this woman say, you know what, I don’t care what you say, I don’t care what you’re trying to make me do. I want to work. I want to make my own money. I want to think by myself and I want to choose what I want do with my life. And it was really sad when the same government say, okay now, we will warn them because they have too much power. Now, we need to call them whores.
And that happens. They try to say that these girls were prostitutes or and stuff like that and a lot of people believe it, and they became afraid and ashamed. And that sucks because they are ladies, what they did was very important and I think some of them are still alive and I think they deserve to have recognition while they are alive.
Beth Accomando: For a lot Americans, they are not going to be familiar with a lot. Most Americans probably know El Santo or those Mexican wrestling films. For people who are unfamiliar with this, what kind of – can you give us like a few titles or a few filmmakers? Something that they could seek out that maybe isn’t impossible to find so that they can start getting a flavor for this.
Aaron Soto: Yes, I’m going to say some titles that you can get on YouTube. That’s great. There’s La Fischeras. That's the first fischeras movie. It's on YouTube, stars Sasha Montenegro and Jorge Rivero and this is a classic and legendary film. And this is a very important film because how many times you can say somebody creators of genre. The movie created a subgenre and these are every important subgenre.
And another movie that is on YouTube is [indiscernible] [01:30:56]. This is probably the craziest punk film ever made. It has already a big cool following all over the world and it stars the [indiscernible] [01:31:07]. She is strong. She kicked ass in that movie and she looks awesome as a punk probably the best stuff of the movie is the costumes, the costume design I think is a costume design for an Oscar.
It's amazing, every detail in the costume design of [indiscernible] [01:31:29] are amazing, and I think it's one of the best probably the Running House films in the history of Mexican cinema. If that movie will be in English, it will be like a Running House classic definitely. Probably another is definitely [indiscernible] [01:31:36] with the Almada brothers and you can watch that on YouTube too. That's not a punk film. And the important thing about [indiscernible] [01:310:57] is that it stars Fernando and Mario Almada that are kind like the Charles Bronsons of Mexico, Chuck Norris or Charlie Bronsons of Mexico, are two brothers and they were the two most successful actors in the mexploitation era in between '70s and '80s. Everything they do became gold. They are like the Tom Cruise of the Mexico in the '80s. They were the box office success. They were phenomenal and they were probably the best actors, but they were so charismatic. And at the beginning of their career, they really tried to do subgenres in Mexico like they did [indiscernible] [01:32:47].
Beth Accomando: The Italian.
Aaron Soto: They made a great [indiscernible] [01:32:48] film. They made revenge movies and they made a lot stuff that you can recognize, like, from the New York filmmakers or from Italian filmmakers. They made western, great westerns. In the course during – over the years, they're starting to make more [indiscernible] [01:33:06] movies. But probably, the late '70s and early '80s, they made awesome stuff, action movies like crazy action movies.
And they are responsible for the subgenre of narcos cinema. You know, they made a lot of movies about these narcos that are heroes in Mexican culture. You know, I’m watching right now the Pablo Escobar series. I don’t know what it’s name [indiscernible] [01:33:32] I think so in Netflix. I was watching it and I said, okay yeah, this looks like a mix of a Good Fellas, good [indiscernible] [01:33:39], you know. And I think those are great recommendations.
Beth Accomando: You currently are working with Rumor in Mexico?
Aaron Soto: Si. Yes, I have the honor to coordinate the Rumor Mexico section, and I do this online. And but what I do – what I like more about doing that is that I can connect some stuff from Mexico to Canada. So, two months ago, we went to the Dark Carnival Festival of Rumor and we do a mexploitation panel and we talked about all of this. and when I was talking about all of these or whether I was thinking like this is insane, like, I’m in Rumor Dark Carnival Festival, in Canada talking about these exploitation movies from Mexico that no one knew, no one talk about.
So, that's what I like about being with Rumor, that rumor is a magazine who really believe in different cultures and that, at the same time they put the mainstream and independent on the same level. I really feel really lucky and honored to be part of that. And well and in your hand, I was with Rumor at the beginning so I guess in a way I try to think like I deserve this, but I think it's really special because I never imagine – I never imagine representing anything. I grow up reading [indiscernible] [01:35:18] of film land magazine [indiscernible] [01:35:21] fantastic magazine. And of course, when going to magazine, I never think about being part of that, that was part of my life and I was a big fan and those magazine changed my life.
So, when I started reading Rumor, it was like finally there’s a publication who is bringing horror back. And I never think about something else. So, now that I represent Rumor in Mexico or I’m representing right now mexploitation cinema, I feel a little bit responsible you know. But I don’t like to think about it because for me it's, I’m doing this for fun because I like it and it really mean so much to me.
Beth Accomando: And does this leave you anytime to make films of your own?
Aaron Soto: Oh yeah. Well, yes, the point for me is to make [indiscernible] [01:36:13] Border Rats, my new feature to chat this here produced by Pablo Santo. You know Pablo of Santa? She is co-producing the movie. The reason I can make Rata del Border right now because that’s an idea that I have for years, is because of the success of Mexico [indiscernible] [01:36:38] and that was an unexpected success.
But I’m really grateful to be part of that because there’re some movies made by an independent filmmakers, the eight filmmakers produced a move. We didn't have a grant, we didn't have a support from the government. We didn't have to perform for many institutions, nothing, this is a movie that we made from our pockets, and we didn’t even have, like, support at the beginning from the officials film media in Mexico Film Institution like, oh at least, these guys are doing this, let's talk about this. Nothing like that, you know.
And it became like a, kind of, like, probably one of the biggest indie hit from Mexico, you know. It's not a movie that was nominated for an Oscar or it's not a movie like the movies that represent Mexico like in international festivals like Berlin or Cannes. But if an audience on the horror genre outside Mexico, of course, Canada, Japan, and of course the U.S., and I think that was – for us to it was great and I think it was because we really did it from the heart.
So, even if the movie is not for everybody or probably is not the best movie you've ever seen, I think the genre films and the genre circuit, international circuit, they recognized the heart in the movie, so they support the movie. So, we cut distribution around the world. It won some awards. We got selected in Cannes last year and it was like what’s going on here? What’s why, why? And it really pushed the career of new filmmakers. You know, I’ve been doing shots and stuff in Mexico for years, so in a way I’m a little bit known in the whole country because of that, but there was some, like, half of the filmmakers of Mexico [indiscernible] [01:38:55], they were new filmmakers. So now, they are well-known. So, I think it did so many different stuff in many ways.
It put a Mexican horror film on the map in the international map. It helped new filmmakers in Mexico and at the same time it really changed the way we do business, find independent filmmakers. And I think everybody else who’s doing horror right now in Mexico is going to start copying the way we work with Mexico [indiscernible] [01:39:28], you know, because now they realized they didn’t need to get permission from the government or instructions. They can make a horror movie and find an audience outside of Mexico. And that's easy to say, you know, but when you’re a horror fan, you can get other fans, other horror fans like you in other places. And I think that’s the case of this specific movie. So, I feel really lucky and honored to be part of that.
Beth Accomando: All right, well I want to thank you very much for making some time to talk to me.
Aaron Soto: Beth, I want to thank you so much for believing in me and support me, and to be the first person who say, hey that thing that you’re doing, it really has some value. And you showed me that that what I have in my mind it could work for somebody else. And I wouldn’t be here and I know I always say that, but I'll say right now that I’m really, like, starting to finally have, like, a little bit of something, you know, in this industry.
That yeah, is still in my heart what you did. I had my first official screening which you. My first press note with you, my first real audience with you, and so many firsts with you. And I know what you did to me in my career I know for a fact that you have done the same to other filmmakers. And other filmmakers that are doing stuff in Hollywood right now. So, I'm really emotional about it to be here with you. So, that muchas gracias for all the – all independent filmmakers and for believe you’re the first person who believe in a Tijuana filmmaker.
You don’t know but you changed the whole culture in Tijuana because I became, thanks to you, I became something as a filmmaker in Tijuana and all the filmmakers, they were inspired by that. And that was thanks to you. So, muchas gracias.
Beth Accomando: Well, I don’t know if I can claim any responsibility for that, but it makes me very happy to think that you feel that way. You have the talent. It would have come out eventually. I was just fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.
Aaron Soto: For me, this day is very special.
Beth Accomando: Well, thank you very much.
Aaron Soto: No, thank you, Beth. Thank you.
Beth Accomando: Thanks for listening to another edition of the member supported KPBS Cinema Junkie podcast. That was Tijuana filmmaker, Erin Soto talking about mexploitation cinema. Horrible Imaginings and the Film Geek San Diego will be hosting a series of mexploitation cinema next year at the Digital Gym Cinema. So, keep a lookout for that.
Next week, I speak with Adam Nimoy about his new documentary about his dad and Leonard Nimoy's most famous creation, Spock, on the original Star Trek series. And remember, I’ll be featuring the horror authors of Horrible Imaginings Film Festival in Podcast 93 to kick off a month of horror in October. Please check out the Cinema Junkie Podcast on iTunes and leave a review or visit the archives at KPBS.org/junkiepodcast. I’d also love to have you to follow me at Twitter @cinebeth and like the Cinema Junkie page on Facebook. So, till our next film fix, I’m Beth Accomando, your resident cinema junkie.
Satisfy your celluloid addiction with the Cinema Junkie podcast, where you can mainline film 24/7. This film and entertainment series is run by KPBS Film Critic Beth Accomando. So if you need a film fix, want to hear what filmmakers have to say about their work, or just want to know what's worth seeing this weekend, then you've come to the right place