An Interview with Gigi Saul Guerrero

Gigi, Co-Founder of Luchagore Productions, is a Mexican-Canadian dynamo-genius-horror maven with a bunch of shorts, feature anthology, and her most anticipated show “La Quinceañera” a Warner Brothers/Stage 13 mini-series under her belt as a director. She is also an actress, writer, editor, etc.  Recently has also worked in the video gaming industry and currently teaches film directing at VANCOUVER FILM SCHOOL in British Columbia, Canada.

Gigi, please tell us how you got your start in film and horror?
Well when it comes to film I think I had an interest in story telling since a very very young age. Hahaha my most favourite “toy” when I was a little kid was my dad’s special VHS player that could actually play film’s frame by frame. Sounds pretty boring right? Well for me what the coolest thing in the planet! I loved playing on that thing all my classical animated Disney films and watch them frame by frame so I could find continuity mistakes!!! Hahaha and boy let me tell you… I found many. And I would be so excited and show my parents “LOOK WHAT I FOUND WRONG IN BAMBI!”. I started by wanting to be a cartoonist and create lovable character and stories.

My parents but me in an animation class since the age of 7 years old and I continued it until 12 years old. I loved it. Moved to Canada and started randomly acting in Drama class and Musical Theatre, I totally left animation behind because I fell in love with acting! Hahaha I loved making people laugh. Until at 15 years old I booked my first commercial and BOOM!! EVERYTHING CHANGED! My first day on set I saw the lights, camera, the number of crew – I was like in shock!! I couldn’t believe how much it takes to film something. I immediately changed my mind and new I wanted to make movies. Since then I haven’t stopped watching all kinds of films and breaking them down. The dream of being a Director spiked from that moment!

And well… when it comes to horror… I blame my mom!! Hahaha!! I was not allowed AT ALL to watch anything violent, bloody, gory nothing. I come from a pretty religious family (Catholic). I mean Mexicans in general are very spiritual people, we have very rich and colourful culture. In my house it was just not permitted to see any of that. So due to not being allowed at all it made me curious – I wanted to know “why” I can’t watch any of that. I remember walking always down the Horror aisle at Blockbuster seeing all the horror covers on the VHS boxes. I loved being so scared and imagining the worst. Until well… I stole “Child’s Play” and got in huge trouble. Hahaha I only saw the first 25 minutes and I was terrified and I LOVED IT!! I LOVED THAT FEELING of being freaking scared out of my mind. I needed to see more after that moment.

What about horror films attracts you? What do you get out of making horror films?
The thing is, this is the only genre that you can bring different reactions in a room full of people watching. You get the screamers, the ones covering their eyes, the ones walking out, the ones laughing, or even the crazy ones like me who cheer so loud when an insane death happens on screen. No other type of film can do that. My most rewarding moment as a filmmaker is sitting in the audience hearing all the reactions of people. Makes it so worth it.And with Horror or genre in general what attracts also is that fact that you can play with real themes and real experience and manipulate them to an extreme level. The fans and Horror community is so damn passionate, there is no other fan base like us horror freaks. We truly are the best (and the most honest).

What in life, culture, and films inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
Easy – it all comes from being Mexican. The moment I know I wanted to be a filmmaker I started watching everything by the 3 amigos, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro G. Iñarritu. They had such a raw and gritty feel to their films I felt immediately connected. For example I watched “Amores Perros” at such a young and it impacted so much, I wanted to tell stories that were not afraid to showcase brutality and realism to that level. From there I started watching a lot of Robert Rodriguez, and he spoke so much to me… I related a lot because I left Mexico in my teen years and then had to completely adapt to a different country, language and culture over all. It wasn’t easy… But Rodriguez had this amazing Mexican American vibe to his films that… I felt I related. Since then I wanted a signature to my voice in story telling.

The Mexican culture is clearly very important to you, please explain a little bit how so and how has integrating it into your films been important to you?
Adding to the previous question too, I feel very lucky I was able to stay close to my roots by talking in Spanish everyday with my family, still living at home, we continue our traditions at home. And even more so being so close to my Abuelita (grandma). I talk to her every day, she shares legends, shares her past, and speaks in true old fashion Spanish to me. I love it so much! It’s been so important to keep my roots close and never let go. Where you come from shows who you are and we should never be ashamed of where we are from.

I gotta say… it’s really cool that the term TEXMEX horror has appeared within the genre community and I’ve been pointed to be a good example of it. It feels really cool, because it totally is ME!!

Your most recent work “La Quinceañera” (now available on STUDIO+ app) truly shows your voice as a story teller. Tell us about the show, and does it have this TEXMEX HORROR style to it?
YEAH!!! Best way to describe La Quinceañera, which is Luchagore’s biggest project to date, is by saying this show is KILL BILL meets EL MARIACHI.

I still remember the day we pitched to Warner Brothers over Skype this story: A fifteen-year-old girl whose family gets massacred during her Quinceañera by a Mexican cartel. In the pitch we described how the audience would watch the girl become a woman–which is what a Quinceañera is all about– as she and her Abuela get their revenge. The series was inspired by strong Mexican women, including from the featured song in the show “Anoche Estuve Llorando” by Lola Beltran (By the way… I am so excited we got the right to that song. I’ve been a fan since a little girl.

This series has truly been the most incredible learning experience of my life and the biggest challenge. It totally has the TEXMEX vibe to it. It was very important to me to stay close not just to my roots, but to who I am. From character relationships, to dialogue, the show really showcases personal insight and experiences. Working with my good friend and writer Shane McKenzie we wanted to be true to the nature of our story’s setting and reflect our voices in a fun, gritty horror Mexican ride!
When fans see this show they will not only love it, but they will see Luchagore can make more mature stories that fall not only in Horror, but also in Drama and a badass Coming of Age film. Hahaha who doesn’t want to see a Badass Abuelita and 15 year old girls kick some cartel ass?!

What do you wish little Gigi would have known about where her dreams and work were going? About where she’d be in 2018?
If I knew I was going to go into Horror… I wish i did more mischievous things as a little kid regarding other dimensions, or spiritual forces hehehe is that bad? In my house we are HUGE believers of anything paranormal, and quite frankly we have gone through very scary experiences.

But If I did know the future I know myself… I would be too curious to find out more, and probably end up opening a terrible portal!!! But heck I would want to see the outcome! haha #SorryMom

What do you wish women newly working in the genre would know about it?
You know I just want to inspire upcoming filmmakers like others have to me. And teaching at VFS I have been approached a lot by girls saying that they aren’t too sure about Directing. That they are a little scared and discouraged. I always share the same thoughts… and that is “NEVER BE AFRAID OF FAILURE”. You won’t know how much you love something until you try it and learn from that experience. Especially anybody choosing genre as their starting point even MORE SO you have to try it, because it the most supportive genre in the industry today.

How important is the Women in Horror Month movement to you?
Women In horror is absolutely incredible. I feel blessed to live in the time where this annual recognition exists. However, I also think it will soon be an everyday celebration. The industry overall is going through big necessary changes that need to happen. With all the outstanding talent this world has from a female perspective needs to be recognized and presented.
Soon we will get there. And WiHM is a great first step. I have huge respect for this organization.

What is up next for you that you can tell us about?
A FEATURE BABY!! That’s the dream, and that’s the goal. Luchagore and I have big plans for 2018 and also… let’s GO FOR SEASON 2 OF LA QUINCEAÑERA!!!!

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