Sunday, 10 June 2018

Interview with filmmaker Alberto Martinez

God's of Perdition will be screening at the Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival

*How did you get into making films?
I was fascinated by Godzilla movies, Star Wars, and event films like Batman and Indiana Jones. In 1991 I decided to pick up my mom's VHS camcorder, those real heavy ones with the black and white viewfinder, and I recorded my first movies using stuffed animals and siblings. Those early movies were crude, of course, but it got me one step closer to being a filmmaker. I knew, then, that it was possibly for me to tell a story through the lens of a camera.

*What inspired you to make your movie?
I love horror movies, and my last one was Solomon's Requiem in 2004. I didn't think about making another horror film until Gods of Perdition, and the reasons for making this film were as follows. First, I love the 1960s Japanese Yokai movies with their visual style and moody atmosphere.  I also love the colours of Dario Argento's films, so I wanted to make a film that reflected both of those things that I love. Second, a child's anxiety over parental alienation is a real horror that is overlooked by the courts, the system, and that is criminal. Plus it's something I am going through, and I've seen the effects of that horror played out, and I've seen how very little is done about it. So I wanted to combine the real life horror of a child's fears over her father being absent with the fictional horror of supernatural monsters using that child to commit a series of murders.

*How has your style evolved?
With each film, I learn from the mistakes I have made, both technically and narratively speaking.  From a technical standing, I seek ways to use better cinematography, learning to use better and more dynamic angles, better framing, lighting. It means being more creative in how I shoot a scene. I've come a long way from just standing there holding a camera and shooting people talking at chest level from a few feet away. I frame a shot like how I frame a comic book panel. From a narrative perspective, I make sure each of my scripts is refreshing with its dialogue and I try to flesh out the characters' motivations, to the best of my current abilities.

*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
I can tell how surprised and shocked the cast was when Athena Montilla, the girl who played Luly, not only was on point with her lines, but knew the other actors' lines and made sure to remind them of their cues when it was time. When I shot her first scene with the therapist, played by David Whitman, I clearly remember some of the other actors on the set just stopping everything and looking at her, shocked that this then 4 year old girl knew her lines so well. I have to admit that even I was so surprised by how well she knew her lines.

*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?
To me it represents the freedom an artist has to create their vision apart from any obstacle that would stop them, whether it be lack of money, people telling them they can't do it because they don't have the proper credentials like a certificate from school saying they passed a film program. Werner Herzog himself said he just picked up a camera (or in his case stole one) and started shooting because it was duty. I'm not advocating committing a petty misdemeanour or what have you, but if you want to make a film, you just do it. It may not be a multi-million dollar project and it may not have seasoned actors, but you at least tell your story and challenge those not familiar with your take on life.

*What can we expect from your next film?
I don't even know. I have tons of ideas of what I want my next film to be. It ranges from being an unconnected sequel to Gods of Perdition, to an action film, to a romantic drama. It just depends on what my soul ultimately wants to do and then I just go ahead with the screenplay and casting. As of this interview, I'm wrapping up principle photography on a short film about child custody and the bad decisions that lead up to it. It's the first short film I'm directing, and it's also the first film I'm directing written by someone else, which is a challenge for me because even though I am familiar with the subject matter and appreciate that it's from the point of view of a woman advocating for fathers' rights, it's still someone else' story, so for me directing someone else' vision is challenging because in the end you do have to advocate for how you tell the story. But whatever my next feature film is, you can bet the strengths I displayed in Gods of Perdition will be included with some of the weakness I exposed of myself being improved upon. I seek to be better with each film much like I seek to be better at being a human with each day that passes.