Adrián García Bogliano (“Here Comes the Devil,” “Late Phases,” “The ABCs of Death,” “Penumbra”) has spent the past several years making a name for himself within the horror genre. His latest film, “SCHERZO DIABOLICO,” the prolific and inventive Bogliano has created a tale of dread concerning a seemingly mild-mannered man who enacts a disturbing plan for vengeance.
The film centers on Aram, (Francisco Barreiro, “We Are What We Are,” “Here Comes the Devil”), a low-paid accountant living a dull existence. With a nagging wife who berates him for not being assertive, he quietly suffers while awaiting a long-deserved promotion. But there’s more to Aram than his quiet demeanor lets on: He has been secretly devising a scheme to get what he feels he is owed. One day he asserts his power menacingly when he kidnaps a schoolgirl (Daniela Solo Vell, “Eddie Reynolds y Los Angeles de Acero”) and keeps her tied up in an abandoned warehouse. What seems like the perfect plan soon unravels into his worst nightmare as his carefully constructed scheme comes crashing down piece by bloody piece. In this twisted thriller, Bogliano uses his startling visionary style to subvert genre conventions while keeping us guessing as to what will happen next in what becomes a gritty game of cat and mouse. As Bogliano’s his most ambitious work to date, “SCHERZO DIABOLICO” has captured the imagination film fans and critics alike, while establishing the young director as undeniable force in the world of horror cinema. The film was an Official Selection at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival and other major events. In short, it is the latest chapter in what is sure to be an amazing career for the young, passionate director, who has no plans for abandoning the genre he loves.
Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Adrián García Bogliano and Francisco Barreiro to discuss their blossoming careers, the challenges of bringing “Scherzo Diabolico” from script to screen and what the future might hold for these stars on the rise!
What attracted you to the entertainment industry early on in life and ultimately made you pursue it as a career?
Adrián: I wanted to be a part of the film industry since I was a little kid. My parents both studied film. They transferred their passion for film to me. I started writing fanzines and very small magazines in the early ‘90s. I also started reviewing films and stuff like that on the radio. I had also started writing my own scripts, so it was something I always wanted to do. I never hesitated on that! When I was a teenager, I started realizing what a director was responsible for and I realized becoming a director was my goal.
Francisco: For me, it was a little bit different. I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until I was about 18 years old. I always loved theater and films but I didn’t have much experience in school. I started studying theater for three years at a school in Mexico. Since then I began working in theater and then began to make some films.
Your latest project is “Scherzo Diabolico.” Before we talk about the film, how did the two of you first cross paths?
Adrián: I saw Francisco in a movie and he really impressed me. It was the original “We Are What We Are,” the Mexican film. Francisco was absolutely great in the film! All of the cast was really solid and I was really impressed by Francisco’s performance. I was contacted to make a segment for “The ABC’s of Death” and it was going to be the first thing I was to shoot in Mexico, so I approached Francisco to see if he wanted to star in the segment. He wasn’t able to because he had other commitments at the time. We established a relationship then. When the time came to do “Here Comes The Devil,” I approached him and I wasn’t sure if he wanted to take part of that because when I came to him with the script, we were going to shoot in three weeks in Tijuana. I didn’t know if there would be enough time or if he would be interested. He was very willing to do it and he did an amazing job! “Here Comes The Devil” was a film where his part wasn’t a lot of meat to the part but he made the character really shine. He brought a lot of things to the character that I didn’t even imagine were possible with that character. I was really impressed with that and we wanted to do more things together. Finally, when we got the chance to do this movie, we wanted to do it together. I wrote this for him and my intention was to explore all of the possibilities.
How did the initial idea for the story of “Scherzo Diabolico” come about?
Adrián: I think it had to do with my love of a couple of movies and a lot of friends and people who were around my age. From the film perspective, I think it had to do with my love with two films that are very different but they have similarities. The first is a Swedish film of the 1970s called “Breaking Point” by the same director who did “Thriller: They Call Her One Eye.” “Breaking Point” is a really weird film about male fantasy. The other is Peter Medak’s “Romeo Is Bleeding.” It has been one of my favorite films since I was a teenager. I thought both of those films were very interesting with their really weird male fantasies where these guys interact with women. I thought that was a very interesting starting point. I also felt those male fantasies had a lot to do with what society tells us what we need to achieve in terms of success and happiness. That was the starting point.
Francisco, what did you bring to this character that wasn’t on the original page?
Francisco: I think I tried to work a lot in many subtle things. I felt the character was very complex. I was excited to have the powerful and amazing chance to explore very deeply in a character that changed a lot throughout the film. The main thing was to bring something very subtle and very human that the audience can connect with and feel is very real. For me, I felt this character could have a huge impact. He is not a bad guy and he only wants to be the next boss but he makes bad decisions. It is a complex study of a character and it was very interesting. Everything was there when I read the script and there were a lot of possibilities to work with. I tried to bring something deeper. For example, the character interacts a lot with other characters but, at the same time, he is often by himself. It was interesting for me to build a script in my mind, to make some dialogue silently in my mind, to keep developing this complex character. When the audience is watching this guy in silence but he is thinking and something is happening in his mind. I think we discovered some things. I used to talk a lot when I was alone and I would talk louder by myself. I tried to bring little details to make the character more real and more human. I was very into the details and that was the most interesting part of the work for me.
As a director, did you want to attempt something you might not of had a chance to do in the past?
Adrián: Yeah. There are always things like that with each project. With this project, there were a couple of different things. One was pretty crazy! We wanted to make this film with a very strange technology. It was very hard but it was interesting. We shot this film with a DSLR camera with an anamorphic adapter, which is a very heavy and bizarre thing they used in the old theaters to screen anamorphic movies. It is not a lens but a huge piece of metal that is very heavy and it gives the film a very particular look. I don’t think anybody has ever made a film with one of those. It gave the film a very particular look and aspect ratio that is very interesting. It is a very wide aspect ratio. That was exciting to try that combination of an old technology with a DSLR camera. The other thing I wanted to try on this film was to make a movie with a very, very small crew. I have made a bunch of micro-budget movies when I was just starting and this film was actually much bigger in terms of budget but I wanted to keep the crew really small. I wanted to try to make a movie with the smallest amount of crew possible and remain very concentrated and focused. It was very difficult but I was happy to try that and I would do it again for the right kind of movie. It is something that works very well. It is an idea I got a few years ago from watching Shane Carruth’s “Primer.” When I saw the credits, I realized there were about five people on the crew. I wanted to make a film that, even though you realize it is an independent movie, it doesn’t look cheap or bad. Everything you need for the story is there but you realize that it was made with a super small crew. Obviously, if you only have five people, each one of them has to do two or three different things during the shooting. It is a very interesting process and it keeps you very focused and on top of everything.
Looking back on this project, what was the biggest challenge you faced and the biggest lesson you learned along the way?
Adrián: The biggest challenge to me was to do a film like this with such a small crew in Mexico City, where people are used to working with bigger elements. I feel like there is not a big tradition of guerrilla filmmaking. There is some people doing it, some great names there doing that, but there is not a big tradition. It was interesting to go there and ask people to do this because to some people it looked like we were completely crazy! “How is it that five people with this strange looking camera are making a feature film?”
Francisco: For me, the challenge of playing this character was a 1 in 1,000 opportunity. This kind of character is pure gold and the type you are waiting all of your life to play. That is a real challenge. An extra challenge was us having this guerrilla production. It was a great effort for everyone to make this film a reality. What I learned is that to keep trusting and working with friends. This film for me was a very ambitious film and, at the end, it became a really great film that I love. You just have to trust!
Music plays a big role in this film. What can you tell us about finding the right fit?
Adrián: Some of that music was already on the script and some of it, after we had the first cut, we started looking for the right pieces. I had a lot of ideas for the movie but I think the tone of the movie actually appeared in front of me. I realized how the movie should feel after listening to the piece that gives the film its title, “Scherzo Diabolico.” It is not only a musical thing but it is also a joke in Italian. The idea of a diabolical joke was very interesting to me and I realized it had to have these overtones of black comedy on it to really work and to give the audience the idea that it is some sort of a joke. I wanted to give the audience the idea that, at the end of the movie, the joke was going to be on Aram’s character. When I understood that, the rest of the pieces were easy to pull.
Where do you see yourselves headed next when it comes to the types of projects you might pursue?
Adrián: In my case, I expect to keep making horror films. This is the genre that I love and I like to try very different things within the genre. I think the genre gives you so many opportunities to try very different things and to talk about very interesting subjects. That is what I plan to keep doing! I want to keep within the realms of the genre, while always trying new things. I plan to keep making movies with different budgets in different countries. After making “Late Phases,” which is my biggest film to date, the idea of going back to making the guerrilla style movie was something really exciting. I think it gave me the opportunity to try things that with films that are a bit bigger you cannot really do. To me, it is interesting to try different things and different sizes of projects all of the time.
Francisco: As an actor, my real passion is in theater. I have been working in theaters for the past 12 years of my life. That is my lifeline, where I feel most comfortable and feel the most capacity of decision, so I am going to keep working in theater. In the other side, I just try to look for a good challenge and good films where I get to work with my friends. For me, it is very important to work with friends and people that I know I can trust and admire. I will try to look, be patient and wait for different and more difficult films that can put me in some risk. I like that feeling and I like that challenge, so I will be waiting for it! In the meantime, I will be doing theater!
Many people can look to you both to be inspired. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?
Adrián: As a director, I think it has a lot to do with what I said previously. I think you have to keep working and keep doing new things. If you are a director, the only way to grow is by making movies and doing new things. You cannot measure your career in terms of increasing the size of your next project in terms of budget. It has to be more exciting and have new challenges. I think for many directors, unfortunately, the goal is often to make bigger films in terms of budget. I think that is a mistake. I think every movie is something different. The most interesting thing you can do is to keep pushing yourself, keep making movies and trying to find new ways to tell stories. The other thing is to doing movies about something you are passionate about. I am passionate about horror. I love movies and I see every type of film but my passion is horror, so I am trying to stick to it and trying to be better with each film within the genre. That is important. There are a lot of directors that use horror to move to something else. That may work for some people but I think the best thing you can do is something you love and really believe in. If you feel it enough and are passionate, you can try to master the craft.
Francisco: I think the actor in film is more complex than the role he may play. I am interested to try these filmmakers, these films and these stories where the actor can be more than just something representing a character. I am very interested in finding out what this means for me and continue developing the human study. I am always watching to look to people to understand little details of how they work. I also hope to continue following my passion and doing the work that I love! I want to continue to try and rethink what the real role of an actor in a film is. That is a very interesting and complex thing that I have been discussing with a lot of other actors. I think there is something very interesting there.
Thank you both so much for your time today! What you created and will continue to create is truly inspiring. I wish you continued success!
Adrián: Thank you so much, Jason!
Francisco: Thank you!
Scherzo Diabolico,’ the new genre masterpiece from the mind of Adrián García Bogliano, is now available on VOD and Digital HD platforms from Dark Sky Films!
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.