VANCOUVER – I first met Gigi Saul Guerrero at an event where we were both speaking. I was nervous, and well, Gigi was not at all. She was outgoing and instantly introduced herself, and we got to chatting. I quickly got to see that this director is a force to be reckoned with. Confident, outgoing, and deadly talented, Gigi graciously agreed to chat with me about her up and coming status as a badass horror filmmaker.
I’ve heard you’ve been nicknamed La Muneca del Terror! Can you tell us what that means, and what landed you such a deadly nickname?
Yeah! That nickname rocks so much. It suddenly became a thing thanks to the support and love from Mexico fans! I am not sure how it started, or who started it, but I love it! It means The Doll of Terror, or Babe of Terror. Pretty amazing right?
It is pretty awesome! As the Doll of Terror, you’re also the co-founder and director of Luchagore Productions. How did you find your team?
It started with meeting my friend, Luke Bramley, in film school. Luke and I started making little horror videos for class. Nobody was making horror at school, so we had some trouble crewing up! Believe it or not, we were struggling so much to have crew on our projects that we ended up sneaking students in from our rival film school! We said they were from “younger grades”! That’s how we met Raynor Shima, now co-founder and producer at Luchagore.
Sometimes breaking the rules is great! From there Luke, Raynor and I got together to continue making horror films. We would compete at local competitions and slowly started building a team!
What is it like being a woman in a not only often male-dominated industry, but certainly in a male-dominated genre?
Well over the years it has changed a lot. Now I feel it’s actually great to be a female and a minority in the industry! However, that still doesn’t mean it’s easy being female in this particular career. I simply consider it as another obstacle I have to face as a filmmaker. I push myself to work harder to achieve my goals. I find there are no worthy excuses to slow yourself down. Yeah, it is male dominated and especially in the genre… so what? It’s easier for us ladies to stand out!
I love your attitude in that department! Have you found that being in a niche market has propelled the success of Luchagore Productions?
We learned over time that the horror genre in general has the most committed and passionate fan base. Genre fans are not afraid to speak their mind. And actually that’s how we’ve learned from our very first works, what to improve on, and how to really target a specific audience. The beauty about genre is that there are so many sub-genres to choose from, and they all have a fan base who are very supportive. We have stuck with Latin Horror over the years and it has really worked. It is not necessarily which target will get you most exposure, but instead which target understands you as an artist.
What is the “gore-iest” your work has ever gotten?
EL GIGANTE! It is still today my most favorite film we have ever made. It really shows who Luchagore is. It is also the film that has gotten the best reactions out of people! Luchadores, tacos, and gore? It’s a perfect combination. Also…I went to the bathroom after a festival screening for EL GIGANTE, and these two ladies were washing their hands talking about the films and one of them said “What kind of mental guy do you have to be to make that Mexican wrestling movie? I was so disturbed by that.” I couldn’t stop smiling.
Filmmakers are always hoping that a festival will land us a new opportunity…and you’re a real success story of that! Can you tell us how your festival run landed you an eventual collaboration with Warner Brothers?
Festivals are everything! I couldn’t recommend more to people to go to as many as you can. That’s how Luchagore built itself up – simply by the people we’ve met. The genre industry is a small community and extremely supportive, so word can spread fast about your work. If we didn’t make an appearance at festivals we wouldn’t know half the people we do today. You never know who is watching in the audience – EL GIGANTE is a prime example: A WB exec was watching at a festival, contacted us and suddenly, we made La Quinceañera for Warner Brothers. Filmmakers must go and/or submit to festivals as much as they can.
That is great advice, and uplifting to see what festivals did for Luchagore! Are there other pieces of advice you’d like to offer to filmmakers submitting to festivals?
Don’t be afraid of criticism. And don’t be shy to go up to people and talk! Festivals purposefully make their events fun so it can be a great ice breaker for artists to mingle and talk all things movies. When you go to festivals watch as many of the films as you can. You want to leave feeling inspired.
Wonderful point! Ok, last – but not least – if you had to die a horror movie death, what would it look like?
I love this question!!! Oh man… I would love to die like a BRUJA!! Burn at the stake and laugh at everybody!!! And for people to be terrified of me while I burst into giant flames. Then my soul will linger forever MUAHAHAHA.
…Was that too much?