Transgressive Brilliance: Emerging Filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero Talks ‘Gore, Babes, and Blood.’
Award-winning filmmaker, actress, and artist Gigi Saul Guerrero is one hard-working, humble, and insanely bad-ass force of nature. With many award winning projects under her belt she is currently adapting Shane McKenzie’s disturbing novel Muerte Con Carne into an artfully gore-filled twisted Mexican horror feature film; A project she was born to direct.
The process began with a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign, allowing Gigi’s Luchagore Productions to produce a 13-minute short based on the novel’s first chapter entitled: El Gigante.
The results are a beautifully shot skilled work of horror celluloid that horror fans will drool over; it is transgressive perfection.
Thank you Gigi for this honest and in-depth interview filled with inspiring thoughts about making films, the political themes in her work, advice on running a successful crowd-funding campaign, and plenty more wonderful tidbits.
Gigi Saul Guerrero: Sure did!! Haha it is called DEAD CROSSING. A zombie short about Zombie border guards who eat Mexicans who dare to cross into the states haha! God that was so ghetto but way too much fun to shoot. At first I was sure I wanted to be an actress, or a cartoonist. I took courses for years. But as my acting continued for theater and commercials my interest grew more and more about film. By the end of high school I had no doubt about going film school. I knew I had to study film.
Hannah: A cartoonist! Do you still like to draw? I imagine that is a helpful skill when it comes to Storyboards.
Gigi: Oh I totally still draw and paint but its more of a hobby! Haha actually a lot of my drawings were not necessarily PG. I will never forget when my high school art teacher would tell me “Gigi why do you keep drawing sexy female animal characters with Large breasts and guns on their hips?…” I was convinced I wanted to be an animator but my mind slowly drifted toward acting and filmmaking!
Hannah: Many people wonder if they should attend film school. What would you tell them?
Gigi: Film School taught me everything. I am not against it or towards it. It is all up to the person! I completely respect amazing filmmakers who never went to Film School and simply learned all their skills hand on. For me, I think Film School it is a fantastic place to try and fail and try again until you are perfect. Film School helped me become a strong person and to explore all the different departments in the industry and learn from each one. It also gave me responsibility and dedication to work and study. I feel 4 years in Film School really helped me in making sure I always finish each project, now outside of film school I know more than just the basics and I have perfected my craft and most importantly my confidence.
Gigi: Luchagore became official in early 2013. However, I think the magic of Luchagore started since 2010 back with Dead Crossing. Raynor Shima, Luke Bramley, Gordon Cheng and myself are the 4 creators of Luchagore. However, the Luchagore family has grown and we have been working with the same talented young individuals in every project. What makes our team so special is how much passion we have for horror and for filmmaking. We have all grown so much together. All of us treat each other like family and like a big part of the team. For example, I have been working with incredibly amazing Make up FX artist Carolyn Williams since day one of Luchagore, since then she has introduced me to new make up artists on set! Same with Art department Topher Graham, Jocelan Jason, or even with Costume Design Jessie Churchill.
We have such a strong team of talented young artist that our goal is to make it far together and help each other get there.
Gigi: This happened all thanks to the wonderful man of John Skipp. He is the one who saw my first film “Dead Crossing” and mentioned to Shane about my team Luchagore Productions. From there Shane saw our film “Dia de los Muertos” and said “You guys need to make my book!” “Muerte Con Carne” couldn’t be more perfect for us!
Hannah: El Gigante and Dead Crossing both touch on boarder issues. Was this theme intentional or coincidence?
Gigi: The themes over all in all my films have definitely a Mexican twist in them. I will forever love my latin roots and hope to continue to spread them into my visual story telling. I think Dead Crossing and El Gigante was a total coincidence and a great one! I really enjoy exploring that topic because it is a common issue today for the Mexican/US border. However, it can be a very touchy subject, but that’s why I love being a filmmaker and taking risks.
Hannah: What has the process of adapting a novel to screen been like? What have been some challenges you face?
Gigi: We wanted to take this as seriously as possible. Our amazing Producer, Raynor Shima, got the lawyer, the rights, everything to make sure it all goes smoothly. Not to mention, working with Shane is amazing, he is so chill and easy to work with it makes the entire process so fun. Now for myself and my film partner, Luke Bramley, wanted to take this story and really make the audience feel like the readers feel when they read Shane’s novel. El Gigante should make you feel dirty, and almost as if you can taste and smell what you are watching.
The only challenge was making sure that Chapter one (El Gigante) had enough story to work as a short film on it’s own, as well as have enough suspense for audiences to want more and ask for a feature of the entire book!
Hannah: What appeals to you about the horror genre? How long have you been a horror film fan?
Gigi: I’ve ALWAYS loved Horror. Ever since a little girl, I would come home from school and watch surgeries on TV…. I freakin’ loved that shit. Why? no idea… But also my curiosity was always there about anything gory or scary since my parents would never let me watch anything like that. But never did I expect to be making horror films. When I started film school I was all about comedy (realized Horror is the way to go and noticed that this is me)
Gigi: I am so blessed to have the most kick ass family. We are one crazy Mexican group haha. The thing is is that my family loves art and culture. Ever since a little girl my parents always made sure I had an open mind to all kinds of art. My dad being a musician, my mom being a dancer and my sister being an opera singer, well they have no idea “where I went wrong” haha! Every time they watch my films I love how they cover their mouth/eyes and sometimes I can hear them gagging at the screen! They best is when my dad gets so excited he rewinds it again and again until my mom and sister can’t handle it anymore.
At the end of the day – my entire family is very proud of me, especially my grandma 😉
Gigi: I love acting. If I could Direct and act I will be the happiest person. I absolutely love my agents at Inspiration All Talent Agency in Vancouver!
Hannah: You ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign. What advice would you give those running Kickstarter campaigns looking to fund there films?
Gigi: Kickstarter takes a lot of time and commitment. The best advice I could give is to NOT make your goal too much money; keep it realistic and know who your target audience is. Talk about your passions in the pitch video, and make a connection with the potential investors so they really feel that they’re a part of the project.
Hannah: Have you encountered any differently first hand as a woman who is a horror fan and/or as a horror filmmaker?
Gigi: I wouldn’t say that I have had negative experience, but rather more difficult ones. I accept the fact that being a female filmmaker is already an obstacle I have to face in the industry. But I look at it more as a challenge rather than a negative fact. If it means I have to work twice as hard to prove my skills are just as good as any Male’s work then then I’m ready! At the end of the day my goal is to be recognized as a filmmaker.
Hannah: How/where can people follow your work and show support?
Check out the trailer for El Gigante and spread the love!