Hey Bloggers! This is the transcript of an interview that I did with independent Swedish filmmaker Sonny Laguna, have a squizz!!
AW: First of all Sonny I have to ask how did you first become involved in making films? Did it stem from your childhood? How did it all start for you?
SL: We were three childhood friends who got a hold of a VHS camera and started making shorts in the weekends. It was mostly so we could still play with toys like young boys, we weren’t exactly grown up at the age of 15 and wasn’t out partying like most people. *laughs* Two years later we got a hold of our first computer editing program and a whole world opened up to us, which made us understand that we suddenly had opportunities to create something good. I think it simply is the process of creating something that drives us and most people in the industry. I’m happy it turned out that way.
AW: Your second feature film “Blood Runs Cold” only cost $5,000 to make. What would you say is the most difficult thing about low-budget film making that people don’t really understand or comprehend?
SL: I think most people are just used to watching high budget films which often have almost all the possibilities they want (at least it seems like it). People tend to forget that everything costs money. A good example is the sound design, in general the assumption is that what is recorded on set is the final film. Yeah sure, say that to any blockbuster! Even in Blood Runs Cold, every sound you hear is recorded afterwards and synced right and the mixed in 5.1. Those “small” things are a huge process and would normally require payed, educated people with the right equipment to do. With $5.000 you basically have to do a work around for everything which in the end hurts the end product’s creativity and quality.
AW: I’m a huge BRC fan as you know and I wanted to ask, How did the idea for this slasher in the woods film surface and what did you have to do to get it up and running?
SL: Well, we (the three of us) started out with wanting the killer to be shown as little as possible with some supernatural elements thrown into the mix. We wanted more of a thriller at first. At the time we were writing the script we kind of had a split vision though which by the time we were shooting it we scrapped some parts of the script gradually. If I’d ever do a remake of BRC it would be much better since I and the team has learned a lot since the time of the shooting three years ago. But we have both a strength and a weakness, we just throw ourselves into a new project which leads to films getting done quickly but sometimes the end result will suffer.
AW: Even if you’re not a horror fan I think people should be able to acknowledge how well you have done things from a technical point of view. Did you storyboard for any of the shots in the film? Or was it more improvisation and trial and error on the day?
SL: I think we storyboard some things but since we had worked together before and speak the same language, the photography is one of those things that flow naturally. We’ve kind of developed a style now that we will always stick to and is of course influenced by several film makers. I think for a low-budget film maker, its greatest strength is that while we don’t have any money to speak of, we have more time. Because then again, we’re only asking for money if the film is a success, so we can reshoot and redo stuff until we feel we are satisfied with it, something that will cost a lot of money on a big budget set.
AW: I have to ask about two more things and then we will move on (ha-ha). First question is How did you come up with the look for the bandaged maniac? Did you have other ideas, drawings? Anything like that? Secondly, how did you manage to pull off one of the best decapitation scenes I have ever seen in a horror flick, with such a micro budget?
SL: Tommy and David did the whole design for the killer and when they showed me it, I agreed it was the right approach. We kind of talked about a mummy inspired creature at first but then finally realized that it should be winter based. We said to ourselves that what if a guy from some time back froze to death only to come back from the dead to wreck havoc? That was our basic premise when Tommy and David started out with the design. And it was easy to have David as the killer since again, we could push him to the limit, he wanted it as bad as we.
The decapitation scene is a mixture of a puppet and a lot of layers in an effects program called After Effects. The program we use for most effects that combine different layers of footage and when combined, looks like an effect that you otherwise couldn’t achieved. But it took days for those few seconds and a lot of head scratching. *laughs*
AW: So your third film “Wither” has just been released. Can you give people a short synopsis of the film so they know what they are heading into?
SL: It’s a film where close friends that are somewhat coming up in age really wants to get together, possibly one last time before family duties and other stuff takes over too much. They get a chance to spend a weekend in a run down abandoned house and just party like there’s no tomorrow. But they don’t know that an old Swedish legend about evil creatures living beneath our feet is a true story and that this particular house is built over one of their nests. As curiosity takes over, a girl in the group discovers a trap door and heads down, only to find herself eye to eye with the old creature, quickly turning her into something else…
AW: Have you had many people praising you for the quality of your work? Whether it is simply from a technical viewpoint, the screenplay or the production value? Or do people mostly do the common thing and say they either loved it or hated it?
SL: Well, we’ve always heard that we had a technical understanding which I think we really do with the limitations we’ve had over the years. But there’s always all sorts of responses, everything from “you should cease to exist” to “your the next generation of horror and Hollywood should call you right now”…. It’s been a fun ride and we’ve accomplished something in that sense, that people notice and talk about it. And interviews me like you do. *laughs*
AW: Either way it’s great to see someone working in the genre and simply doing it for the love of it. No matter what you do some people are going to love it and some are going to hate it right? I hope that you’re getting more good feedback than bad? Because it would be a travesty otherwise!
SL: Yes, well, we are certainly getting more positive than bad feedback, especially with our third film “Wither” which I think really is our first quality film. Even though it’s still shot under disgusting circumstances, crappy camera (if you compare to what big budget films has to work with), we managed to almost achieve our vision fully. With that said, I think it will be really hard to make a film that fulfills our vision completely, only time will tell.
AW: What did you learn most from your first time behind the camera and your time spent on “Blood Runs Cold” and what would you have changed if you could have?
SL: A LOT of things would change today. The way we approach the script, work with limitations, prepare our actors, what we prioritize and a lot of other things. I think it would have been weird otherwise, to say I wouldn’t change a thing. If I had a 200M$ budget I might not have changed too much. *laughs*
AW: You have told me your much happier with the result and end product in “Wither” what did you do your third time around that you think makes this the more successful of the three projects? Is it simply the screenplay/ story that was better, or the people you cast, the blood and gore factor or something different altogether?
SL: I think we grew up a lot coming out from the cold hell shooting that was BRC. We had 8 times the budget and when we tried to do a film in our native language, everything from script to actors is easier to find and work with. I think we learned from the divided vision of BRC that we needed to stay the course more than ever and I think after “Wither”, we are now a bit satisfied as a very hungry film maker. If you’re too hungry you might want to much from one single film and fall flat so after that film, our next project was much easier to understand what it was and whatnot.
AW: I just want to say thank you for the interview Sonny. I absolutely love your work and acknowledge the quality your able to deliver, given your small amount of experience. I hope both “Blood Runs Cold” and “Wither” continue to gain a following. I can’t wait to sit down and watch Wither! Thanks my friend.
SL: Thank you for the questions, the best questions often come from individuals that have a passion rather than a huge magazine that has a lot of constraints with content. I’ll talk to you again about our fourth effort sometime when I have something to show you all. And please visit www.facebook.com/stockholmsyndromefilm and click like, we are like-whores and gladly accept your click.