We nervously approached Gigi Saul Guerrero, as fans of anyone they admired would, and asked her for an interview with our site. We knew how busy she and the rest of the Luchagore team were with big projects, one of which was a top-secret feature-film. We knew she'd be game (because she's awesome like that), but we expected to have to wait a while. Well, it wasn't even a day before she got back to us and emphatically told us what we were hoping to hear, "Heyyy, yes. It would be a huge honor to be interviewed by you!" An honor, she said. To be interviewed by us. Needless to say we were swooning; but because Gigi doesn't half-ass anything, she reached out to us, this time, with an offer of her own.
Rather than do one interview with a single member of the production company, she suggested we spread the interview across two more of the company's founding members in Luke Bramley and Raynor Shimabukuro (we'll be sure to speak with the remaining co-founder, Gordon Cheng in the near future) but for now, we were getting far more than we had originally asked for, and as you can imagine, the opportunity collectively sent us over the moon. And that's kind of Luchagore's work in a nutshell actually; getting far more than you asked or bargained for. Producers of a wide range of horror related material, popularized mostly by their incredibly effective short films, and having quickly amassed a large following of dedicated fans (like us at Thirteenth Floor) it was our absolute honor to gain insight into the inner-workings of the well oiled machine that is Luchagore Productions.
We’re definitely big fans of the work you and your team at Luchagore Productions are doing, and it's great to see it pay off in dividends; in fact, you just finished wrapping on a pretty big project no? Care to talk a little about it?
GIGI: THANK YOU!! Yes, this summer we just wrapped our biggest project yet. Our first studio gig! Heh-heh I am not allowed to say much, but I promise you, it's BIG! We got contacted by one of Hollywood's largest, well known studios, to create some new and original content for a digital platform that is coming out in 2017! So keep your eyes peeled to find out what this project is; it might be a bit different from everything Luchagore is known for, but I promise you, our Tex-Mex gore is in it, and that's something we'll never get rid off ;)
Keeping on the subject of projects, Luchagore's extensive resume covers a wide variety of productions, from commercial work, to self-contained holiday-themed short films, and even charity related PSAs - which type do you take the most pleasure being involved in? Any type not yet covered by the production team that you'd like to tackle next? Gigi's own video game perhaps?
RAYNOR: Oh wow, it's such a tough decision when each project can vary on what you are doing, but I'd have to say for our next big hurdle, its to get that first feature in the can next year! One thing that we haven't really dove into yet - which is a challenge I think we'd be up for - is making a paranormal/thriller film. I know Gigi has some pretty intense ghost stories based on her life, that would make for interesting concepts, but it's something we would really like to dive into thoroughly and take our time with...I'm definitely not aware of Gigi's video game, unless it's the one where she is a chainsaw lollipop wielding killer, spewing rainbows out at her enemies.
Luchagore Productions is responsible for quite a few short-film projects - the kind that have seen a vast increase in popularity due to the proliferation of fast internet access, on-demand media services like YouTube, and shorter-than-ever attention spans. Do you find this problematic for filmmakers? Is it harder for a feature-length horror film to hold the attention of today's audience?
LUKE: I think it depends on who the target audience is, and where they’re viewing it. When watching a film in the theaters, the audience has invested a stronger interest in the movie, and there are fewer distractions to take them out of the story, so the filmmaker can take more time to slowly build the story if they need to. In the online world there are so many more distractions and options, so if the viewer doesn’t feel engaged right away, then they are clicking on the next thing out there that gets their attention. I think the main focus for a filmmaker is to just do your best to tell an engaging story, and hope that the audience clings to it.
Speaking of the internet, specifically what we get to see via social media outlets, the entire crew seems to get along extraordinarily well - with the co-founders sharing an almost family-like relationship among each other. Did this kind of bond form over the course of the work done at Luchagore Productions, or were you all well acquainted beforehand?
LUKE: Gigi and myself have known each other since our days of film school, and we partnered with Raynor in our last year of studies (he went to our rival school), but we’ve definitely grown closer since the inception of Luchagore. Filmmaking is an extremely collaborative art form that consists of many talents coming together, so it’s important to keep the family aspect and bonding alive and well in order for it to be productive and enjoyable. It’s very similar to playing on a sports team – you’ll do much better if there’s companionship and chemistry between everyone.
So then guys, what exactly was it that made you want to get involved in film-making, specifically, the horror genre?
GIGI: Ever since I was a little girl I had this strange obsession with watching Disney animated films over and over and over, until I could find continuity mistakes. It was almost like a hobby of mine. I remember calling out to my parents excited that I found new mistakes every time. Slowly, my interest as I was growing up went from wanting to be a animator/cartoonist, to intensely wanting to act in theater. Once I hit thirteen I booked my first TV commercial, and the lights, the crew, the multiple cameras, made a HUGE impact on me! I said, "Ok... if this is how movies are made, this is what I need to do". My mind was completely changed! I started watching all kinds of films at this age and started to appreciate them more and more. Not to mention, ever since I was a little girl, horror films were NOT allowed at my house. (Laughs) I used to walk down the horror aisle at Blockbuster as a kid and hope my mom would let me watch one. So in short, since I was not allowed to watch them, my curiosity for horror continued to grow more and more.
LUKE: I’ve always held a passion for movies from a young age, especially the horror genre. I loved renting horror movies on VHS with my older sister, and we would stay up all night watching them when I wasn’t supposed to, then I’d be too freaked out to sleep at night! As I grew up, I wanted to turn my passion into a career, and thought it’d be cool to be the one creating these movies that freak and gross out an audience!
RAYNOR: I got into making films because I wanted to be on the other end of the camera, giving viewers the excitement and joy I always have when watching them. Indulging in the horror world was something I really wanted to do, because I thoroughly enjoy the horror fans and how dedicated and truthful they are when it comes to feedback. They will blatantly tell you if your stuff sucked or if it was fucking amazing and blew them away! Most of all, its trying to introduce a new voice into the filmmaking world, and give the people something that we haven't seen before; that's what Luchagore is setting out to do.
Gigi, as a multi-talented female filmmaker in an industry dominated by males, what kind of experience have you had professionally; any personal stories (good or bad) you’d like to share?
GIGI: Yes, this industry is totally male dominated, and yes, it has been rough at times trying to be taken more seriously for my work - BUT - I don't look at it as a negative thing at all! Instead, I see it as motivation for me to work harder and push myself as an artist, and to stay true to who I am as a storyteller. Being female is simply "another obstacle" I have to go through. My personal goal at the end of the day is NOT to be recognized a great female filmmaker... but instead, as a GREAT FILMMAKER, no matter my sex.
How integral to the creative process, is your Mexican heritage? Artistically, it's obvious how much it permeates your work, what about storytelling?
GIGI: I consider myself extremely lucky to have been born and raised in Mexico. My roots mean so much to me because it's what makes me who I am. I always embrace my country's rich traditions and culture because it really sculpted where my inspirations come from and I never want to lose that. I moved to Canada at such a young age and I am so happy my parents continued our culture and traditions still to this day. Living in Vancouver with so many different types of people and cultures it's an amazing feeling to see my entire team be interested in making films with a Hispanic influence or twist. Every time we want to make a new story we always try to focus on something Hispanic, even if it's as simple as just a prop on screen or as big as the entire theme and story, it has Hispanic influence.
Focusing back on Luchagore Productions, the name is a play on the word Luchador - which, for those who don't know, is someone who competes in Lucha Libre wrestling. Are you a fan of the sport? Do you have a favorite Luchador?
LUKE: I’d say I’m definitely a fan of the sport, though it isn’t as popular here in Canada, I’ve had the privilege to watch it live in Mexico City a few times. It’s amazing! As far as a favorite wrestler, I’ll go with the classic Blue Demon, one of the most famous wrestlers (and film stars) back in the day to ever grace the ring of Luchador wrestling.
And Gigi? What leisure activities do you enjoy or like to partake in when you're not dreaming up new ways to dismember, bludgeon, and mutilate characters in your films?
GIGI: (Laughs) I am always thinking on how to film our next death... And as everyone can see on social media, my main activity with my Luchagore team is to drink MEZCAL! Haha! But, being more serious, I love to paint and draw on my free time, and one thing I've been doing a lot lately is...POLE DANCING! Ever since film school, I became less competitive and active in sports, especially in comparison to my days in high school, so my motivation for working out became pole dancing! Also, as many people know, I love acting and modelling as well (laughs). But spending time with family is soooo important to me. So I try to make that my main activity! If you follow me on snapchat you will understand how hilarious it is to live at my house (smiles)
*Laughs* As a member of an admittedly loud and crazy family, I completely understand! Speaking of which, you would probably agree that fellow filmmakers (especially the ones involved in the horror genre) and even fans, would be considered a kind of family. Is there anything the team would like to share with fans or aspiring filmmakers looking to make it in the industry?
RAYNOR: For everyone that has been a huge support to LuchaGore Productions and our works, we wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for all of your continued efforts in wanting us to create more and more content for you. We wouldn't be here today without that drive and passion that makes us want to always give you something new every time. What is most important if you're a filmmaker, is understanding that every project you make may not always be the most successful or even the way you intended it to be. But don't be afraid of failure, and always learn from your films, so when you go to make the next one, you'll always be pushing yourself to do better. As a fan, it takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make a film, so the positive and negative feedback is what keeps us going!!! So keep feeding us with love.
Ok, I lied. THIS is the last question (ha). When will the horror fans of Orlando (Florida) have the honor of meeting the Luchagore crew?
RAYNOR: Ohhh boy! If they chant out, “Lucha Lucha Lucha!!!!!!” loud enough, we may just hear it all the way on the west coast here, and be paying a visit very soon!!! (laughs) but seriously we really want to come down, so ship us down in a box or something and we'll be there to meet you all ;)