This is the year of Argentinian filmmaker Adrian Garcia Bogliano.
This week saw the American DVD release of his latest effort Penumbra. Last January yielded the DVD release of Cold Sweat, further, he’s making headlines here on Shock with his forthcoming film Here Comes the Devil and his contribution to The ABCs of Death (both playing at Fantastic Fest next month). Not too shabby.
Bogliano is clearly on the rise in horror and Shock Till You Drop had the pleasure of picking his brain. We discussed the origins of Penumbra, his love for David Mamet, his disdain for Paranormal Activity and his upcoming projects.
Shock Till You Drop: We’re looking forward to seeing you at another year of Fantastic Fest next month…
Adrian Garcia Bogliano: Yeah, I’ll be there with The ABCs of Death and Here Comes the Devil, my new films. We’ll definitely be meeting there.
Shock: Regarding Penumbra, what was the film’s genesis?
Bogliano: I wanted to make a very different type of horror film. At the time I was writing the script, I was making my first film which almost took five years to make, it was called Rooms for Tourists. That film was trying to be a classic horror film, a slasher but it tried to be by-the-book in terms of how to present the characters. With Penumbra, I wanted to make a very different kind of script, something that had a character you don’t like too much. I wanted to make a film driven by dialogue and not by that much action. The horror comes from misunderstandings, things the leading character fails to see. That was the first idea that comes to mind. When I was writing the script, we were in the middle of an economic crisis in Argentina and so I tried to put some ideas that I had in there. Relationship stuff between the Spaniards and the Argentinians that I wanted to talk about. I always loved those kinds of films where half an hour has passed and you don’t know what’s going on, but you’re interested and you want to keep watching it. That’s something difficult to accomplish, but it’s why I started writing the script.
Shock: You mention a film about “misunderstandings” and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours comes to mind…
Bogliano: Funny that you mention that, I like it and my brother, who is co-writer of Penumbra, loves that film. The thing about the misunderstandings, it’s very present in the writer I like the most, David Mamet. His plays and films are about characters who don’t get to know things, or say things that are ambiguous and the other character doesn’t understand or ask what they mean. It’s interesting, his way of writing. We tried to do that kind of thing. Basically, because of our love for Mamet, the film was intended to be some sort of stage play. It’s the reason why you have these camera pans to walls or doors closing in front of the camera. We wanted to create the idea of a stage play.
Shock: It seems like you’re churning out film after film, whether it’s a short film or a feature. Are you drawing from ideas you’ve had simmering on the fire for a few years or are some of these relatively fresh concepts that you’ve been given the opportunity to execute right away?
Bogliano: Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting because it happened that we were making independent films in Argentina starting with Rooms for Tourists. Then we made a bunch of micro-budget films trying over and over again to get a bigger production. We wanted a chance to make a living out of filmmaking. It seemed impossible because there is no tradition of horror films in Argentina. Cold Sweat took us seven, eight months to develop and it was a recent project that started getting going when we got approved by the Argentina Film Institute for Penumbra which was an eight-year-old project. So, we had two projects approved by the institute, one was relatively new the other was old, both getting the green light at almost the same time. I try to make some of the other projects to pull them off because I still love them, well, most of them. There are other ideas that appear in a more spontaneous way, like Here Comes the Devil. That was a film idea I had for a long but never got to write it. I was thinking about it, left it alone for five years, then thought about the element that was missing and started to write it. From the time I wrote the script to the time we made the film was six months or close to that.
Shock: Is there a particular sub-genre you favor?
Bogliano: I think I have a particular love for things I’ve tried below, giallos and slasher films I really like. That’s what I’m most comfortable in, but I’m trying to test myself and do other things like Here Comes the Devil – to move out of my comfort zone. What I wouldn’t do right now is a zombie movie. I feel like it’s a little overexposed. Maybe in ten years, but I get a little bored watching all of these zombie movies.
Shock: You’re not alone.
Bogliano: Yeah, I can’t think of an interesting way to approach it right now. In the case of supernatural horror, that’s also being used a lot in the case of Paranormal Activity and films like that. At the same time, I hate Paranormal Activity, I thought I could do something different with the type of films I like such as The Entity.
Shock: What can you tell us about your contribution to The ABCs of Death and Here Comes the Devil?
Bogliano: I’m really excited about The ABCs of Death. I haven’t seen any of the other films outside of my own segment, so I’m going to get a surprise. I’m really happy. I’m a filmmaker but I consider myself a geek, I love movies. To me, to have a chance to be in this anthology with all of these magnificent names and people who are so talented, I’m really happy. It’s something special. What I tried to do with my segment is I tried to approach it is how kids are taught the alphabet. I wanted to make a creepy bedtime story with that childish tone and that’s what I did. Here Comes the Devil is something I’m excited about because it’s the first time I move into the supernatural sub-genre. This is the first time I go 100% into it. It led to several challenging things I needed to think about. It’s also exciting because this is the first time I had an American company take a chance on me with a Latin American horror film in Spanish, that to me is amazing.