Shock Till You Drop had a chance to sit down for coffee with REC 3: Genesis co-writer Luiso Berdejo.
Some time ago, Berdejo developed a solid reputation with his short films (three of which are available on YouTube).
He co-wrote the first REC film and directed The New Daughter, the thriller starring Kevin Costner which was unceremoniously dump in a super limited theatrical run before heading to DVD.
Berdejo talks with us about what we can expect from REC 3: Genesis, the decision to move the film outdoors and he shares some details about the fourth installment REC: Apocalypse.
Shock Till You Drop: Tell us about REC 3 – where the idea for the film came from, the writing process and anything else you would like to share with us.
Luiso Berdejo: Paco [Plaza], Jaume [Balaguero], and I did what we have done for all of the projects we have worked on together, which was to brainstorm ideas. The idea of making one of the REC movies at a wedding came from the editor of the movies [David Gallart]. At some point, we were thinking about a moment in life where there are all kinds of cameras and David said ‘Let’s do it at a wedding.’ We loved that and we decided to go back to that idea for the third film. I live in Santa Monica, CA. Paco came to visit me in the summer of 2010. At that point we figured out the script for the film. We were watching the World Cup and we were really happy because Spain was winning every single game. I think that happiness plus the fact that we wanted to make something different than the first two movies made us write a funnier movie. (Laughs). Paco really felt that REC 3 had to be a love story and I think that he was right. Years ago, he directed a movie that we both created called The Christmas Tale, and while writing REC 3 we both felt that going back to the feeling of that movie would be great for the saga.
Shock: So, it’s more of a horror-comedy, then?
Berdejo: Yes. It’s more of a horror-comedy because we didn’t want to do the same thing again. We pictured ourselves in the seats of a theatre. We knew that a lot of people may be surprised, but we, as an audience, wanted to see something different; being surprised by a movie is always a great feeling. For example, we all love Army of Darkness. So, we tried to make a movie that we would want to watch. We were thinking about offering something new and different.
Shock: You co-wrote REC but didn’t work on REC 2. What made you decide to return for the third film?
Berdejo: I wasn’t part of REC2 because I was in the cutting room for my movie. I came to the States to shoot a movie. It was a 17-month eternal nightmarish post production…and I was in the middle of it when they wrote REC 2.
Shock: Which movie were you editing while REC 2 was being made?
Berdejo: The New Daughter. I was hired by a company in L.A. [Gold Circle Films] to shoot this movie. It wasn’t a script that I wrote, but I had a chance to work on it a little and shoot a movie. What else could I ask for? It was a dream come true. I tried it in Spain for like six years and it didn’t work out and within six months of moving to LA I had an offer to shoot a movie.
Shock: You did several short films in Spain.
Berdejo: I did four short films. With this movie that I shot I had many restrictions, plus some ridiculous partners. It’s not as if I had a chance to be myself as I was in my short films. But, I had a chance to make this movie with the incredible Kevin Costner and I learned a lot. At the end of the day I’m really grateful to the experience and truly proud of it.
Shock: Was it your short films that led to the offer to direct your first feature?
Berdejo: Yes. I came to L.A. in 2006 and I met a manager who watched my short films and wanted to work with me, Peter Safran. He sent them all over town and months later I had the offer to direct this movie for Gold Circle Films – after they watched my first two short films. I feel they thought I could do the job without having to pay me very much. When I came back to L.A. they weren’t very interested in watching the rest of my short films, and that’s when I learned that they didn’t care as much about the people as they did about saving money and making it [potentially]. Months later, during the eternal post production, is when they raped me with a pineapple, in an artistic and creative way. But, that’s for a different interview, some other time… Actually, maybe it was a pineapple tree. [laughs]
Shock: We touched on this earlier, the past two REC films have taken place indoors. What made you decide to branch out and set some of the third film not only outside, but in broad daylight?
Berdejo: “That was something that Paco always wanted to do. He wanted to give a little more than what the audience was expecting. We love zombies, but we always see them at night. He really wanted to see them during the daylight. Most of the movie takes place at night, but you can have zombies come out during the daylight, as well. We wanted to do something different. We thought about the wedding, and it was like the perfect moment in life to have a zombie attack.”
Shock: Tell us about your experience running the second unit.
Berdejo: I was there for whatever Paco needed. I had a calendar of what I needed to shoot. Plus, if there was a scene that he didn’t have time to finish, I was there to finish that last shot. When you are doing the second unit, you usually do what they ask you to plus something else that you can offer. If they would ask you for three shots for a scene, you try to deliver five. I was there during most of the shoot. I arrived about three or four days after shooting started and stayed all the way until the end. Since I had my own call sheet, I was able to get to the lunch prior to everyone. That was one of the things Paco used to convince me to come. He said ‘You will have your own citation and you will be able to get your lunch from craft services anytime you want.’
Shock: Will you be credited as a second unit director?
Berdejo: Yes. And I must say I learned a lot by watching Paco shooting and working on the set.
Shock: From the very limited clips I have seen of the third film, it seems to have a more polished look. Does REC 3 stay with the found footage style of filmmaking or does it go with a more conventional approach to the camerawork?
Berdejo: It’s both. It starts with showing footage from every type of camera that you would see at a wedding. We see footage from the wedding videographer and from cell phones,cameras, and so… So, it starts out like a REC movie, and then it turns into a conventional film. Even the movie pokes fun at itself by saying things like ‘We have to keep shooting! We have to record everything!’ Then, at some point somebody says ‘What the fuck are you talking about? We’re not doing that.’ And, they try to stop and break the camera…
Shock: What has the audience reaction been like when REC 3 has screened at film festivals in the States?
Berdejo: I think it was an unexpected experience for the audience. They were waiting for more of the same and they discovered that it’s a much different movie than the first two. And that’s great! They liked it, but it’s very different. So, I sensed that people were a little bit surprised with what they got. There are as well some typical things from Spanish weddings that look culturally different, but on the other hand that adds more authenticity to the movie. It would have been easier for Paco to do the same thing again, but he wanted to take it a step further and that’s something praiseworthy that I really admire him for. He said jokingly, that he couldn’t make three movies in a row without a tripod. [laughs] We actually have music in REC 3.
Shock: What can you tell us about REC: Apocalypse?
Berdejo: Jaume [Balaguero] is directing it. And, he is writing it with the other writer from REC 2.
Shock: So, you will not be writing the fourth installment?
Berdejo: I won’t be writing it. I guess that as with the second and third film, we will all be sending the script to each other. I don’t know much about it. I think that it may be more scary than funny. I think it will go back to the roots of the first two films, but I am honestly making this up…
Shock: Well, thanks a lot for talking with us.
Berdejo: Thank you for your interest.
REC 3: Genesis arrives on VOD August 3 and opens in a limited theatrical run on September 7th.