Spanish directors Paco Plaza and Jaume Balaguero managed to breathe new life into the horror genre when their film, [REC], debuted back in 2007. The original film and it’s sequel were massive successes in the world of horror cinema. The original film even spawned an America remake known as ‘Quarantine’ — which in the land of Hollywood is the sincerest form of flattery. Director Paco Plaza has returned once more to bring an exciting new and very different chapter to the beloved franchise (hitting VOD this August 2nd, 2012 from Magnet Releasing), which will surely capture the imaginations of fans both new and old.
In the latest chapter, Koldo and Clara are about to celebrate the most important day of their lives: their wedding. Everything appears to be running smoothly and the bride and groom and their families are enjoying a wonderful day; that is until some of the guests start showing signs of a strange illness. Before they know what’s happening, the bride and groom find themselves in the middle of a hellish ordeal, as an uncontrollable torrent of violence is unleashed on the wedding. Amidst the chaos, Koldo and Clara become separated and begin a desperate search for one another. What started off as an idyllic day quickly descends into a nightmare of the worst kind…
Jason Price of the mighty Icon Vs. Icon caught up with director Paco Plaza to discuss the latest chapter in the [REC] franchise, the challenges involved in bringing it from script to screen and much more!
The entertainment industry is not for the faint of heart. When did you decide to pursue a career as a filmmaker as opposed to going in a different direction?
Wow! That is a really hard question! I think I have always been enamored with cinema. I know when I was a little kid, watching horror films all of the time, there was a television show in Spain that played classic films from Universal and Hammer. I remember myself being 8 or 10 years old watching a lot of those horror films. I can tell you the moment I fell in love with cinema! I was watching “The The Incredible Shrinking Man,” the Boris Karloff film. Do you remember the very end of the film where he is fighting a spider using a needle as if it was a sword? That film, that image, I remember the impact it had on me was devastating! It was pure poetry!
For me, that image symbolizes everything that cinema is — the possibility of creating an image that has meaning beyond the image itself and is poetic, so deep and profound that can make you think and feel in a different way. For me, that is what cinema is and why cinema is different from just recording with a camera. Cinema is about creating poetry with an image and giving a different sense to the image than just what is being portrayed.
What initially sparked the idea for the original [REC] film and how has life changed for you since the initial release?
Originally, I think [Rec] changed my life and the life of Jaume [Balagueró] for good. We had both had pretty successful careers here in Spain. We had done our own films and everything was cool. Then [Rec] happened! It was like a scream of freedom! One day Jaume and I were having a coffee in a bar. We were talking about how difficult it was for us, how complicated it was to get a film made and how painful it was. We remembered when we were shooting short films back at school and everything was about having fun doing cinema! We sort of wanted that back in our lives. We wanted to experience again the pleasure of just taking a camera, a few friends, making a horror film and having fun with it. That was the spark that made us think about doing an original film that was very, very cheap and very easy to convince the producers to fund. We knew that they were not risking any money and it was probably going to cost them nothing and we were going to make a good film. What happened later with the film was just crazy! I think a lesson we learned was we needed to have fun with movies! When we do it and when we watch them, cinema is entertainment. Cinema is about making your time better from watching the film! I think when you are doing a film, you are making a commitment to the audience and you must work really hard to satisfy them. [Rec] changed my life, of course, because it gave us very important international possibilities. Lots of people came to us to say how they loved the film. What is more important to me is that a teenager in Spain told me [Rec] was the reason that made him want to study and create short films. Stimulating young people to do something creative, I think is the best compliment and gift I could get from life.
You changed your style up a bit for “[Rec] 3: Genesis.” What inspired the new approach?
I think mainly it was about taking a risk and delivering something different. I think these days, at least what has happened to me with the extended version trailers and the huge amount of information you can find on the Internet, more and more, you are not surprised by films. It’s like you go to the theater and check point by point that the film is exactly what you expected and just what you thought it was going to be. That does not mean the film was bad but it is not surprising. I remember back in the ‘80s when I was a teenager, you went to the theater and you didn’t have a clue of what was going to happen. For instance, I had a very extraordinary experience with the “Sixth Sense,” the M. Night Shyamalan film. I was one day walking in Madrid and I said, “Wow! A new Bruce Willis movie! I have never heard of this!” I went into the theater and thought it was going to be an action movie, something like “Mercury Rising” or something you would expect from a Bruce Willis film. I was so moved by the film. Independently for me, the film is a masterpiece. The feeling of being surprised by a film seldom happens to us these days. I wanted to try and get back to that feeling. If you are going to watch a [Rec] film, what you get is something different than what you expected.
For you as a director, what was the biggest challenge with this new film?
I think it was trying to keep a balance between comedy and romance without losing the horror ingredient. Balancing those elements was the most difficult thing for me. The thing was not going too far in any direction. A good reference for this film was “Army of Darkness,” which I think is a perfect film because it has the perfect combination of elements. I wanted to try and achieve something like that and have a film that gives you some scares but is fun and in the end is kind of romantic. I wanted to have those three elements existing in the same film.
What can you tell us about the cast for this film and what they brought to this project?
The casting process was really, really simple because our leads I had wanted to work with them for quite some time. In fact, with Leticia [Dolera], I had shot a video clip for a Spanish band and I was absolutely fascinated by her. I wanted to work with her again. With Diego [Martín], he is a very, very popular comedy actor here in Spain. I really admired him and wanted to give him a role that was different from anything he had done in the past.
The process was really, really simple because while we were writing the script, we already knew they were going to be in the film. I had talked to them before I started writing. I said, “I am going to make a new [Rec] film. I want it to be set at a wedding and I want you to be the bride and groom.” They both agreed! That really helped me in the process of writing the script knowing what players we were going to have.
Is there a particular type of film or genre you are anxious to explore in the future?
I don’t know. I have done some horror films and, as I grow older, humor is something becoming more and more important to me. I think maybe not in the immediate future but I am sure I will do a comedy some day. It won’t be a light comedy, it will be pretty dark, but definitely a comedy.
What is the best advice you can offer to aspiring filmmakers?
The lesson I learned from doing [Rec] is the more love you put into the film and the more time you have with it, that is something that comes across on the screen. If you work really hard and really love what you are doing, it works. I think the main mistake is trying to do something to fulfill someone else’s expectations. I think every successful film is unique. Then it generates interest. Then they copycat your film and there are a lot of things like it that make you think of the original which was really special.
I think the key is being really honest with what you love in a film. The filmmakers that I really admire do this. I could name many but the first one that comes to my mind is Quentin Tarantino. I feel that he really loves the things he is shooting. He seems to really enjoy it and makes the film he would be dying to see if he was 17 years old and going to a mall to watch a film. He would love to watch “Kill Bill.” That is something that comes across on screen and you can really feel it when you are in the theater! There is a spark of the filmmakers soul in the film. I think that is really important, so my only advice would be to be very, very honest with what you want to do.
That is great advice! Thank you for your time, Paco! We look forward to spreading the word on your work and wish you much luck in the future!
Thank you very much!
For more information on this kick-ass project, swing by and “Like” the official [REC] 3: Genesis Facebook page. Support independent horror!