He can be found huddled in a home office and surrounded by action figures and movie mementos. Eduardo is a fast-talking, high-octane guy that answered my old questions (about The Blair Witch Project) with the same enthusiasm as my new ones (about V/H/S/2 and Exists). Sánchez loves storytelling and his energy is contagious.
I would like to sincerely thank Eduardo for the opportunity to talk horror and I would also encourage you to watch all of his films, especially if you love psychological terror or found footage features. Links to several of Sánchez’s movies are at the bottom of the post. Although we did not talk about Seventh Moon, those of you that have read Preta’s Realm or Demons Within (books 1 and 2 of The Hidden Evil Trilogy) will recognize the “hungry ghost” mythology in that movie, although in a slightly different context than my novels.
Please allow me to introduce you to storyteller and film maker, Eduardo Sánchez.
*Note: The trailer for V/H/S/2 is at the bottom of the interview. It is intended for mature audiences only. The entire film is available on June 6th, 2013 here.
J: Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
E: I was born in Cuba. My parents got out of there before I turned two. We moved to Spain and then to the United States, the Washington D.C. area, around 1972. Most of my early memories are from Spain but I’ve spent pretty much my whole life in the United States. My parents still don’t speak any English. I am an American citizen now and I consider myself as American as can be but I also have this very Cuban side. So part of me doesn’t really fit in anywhere. I think that feeling kind of drove me to film making; the idea of being able to create another world, creating something else, another reality, and then to populate that reality with characters and control it. With writing and directing you are world-building, you’re choosing what to show the audience, what the audience hears, what the audience sees. There is this kind of God complex that we all have and we all try to control. For me, I think it comes from being a Cuban-American and not really fitting in to either society. So it’s kind of a unique perspective that I’ve brought to my film making in general.
J: I think we’re about the same age, so I’m guessing you grew up in the 70s. Are there film makers or directors that inspired you as a child?
J: Film making and writing today are very different than they were even five years ago. The technology has really leveled the playing field. If you had to make The Blair Witch Project today, how would it be different?
E: The biggest problem with all horror films now is the cell phone. You’ve got to come up with a way people can’t use cell phones. Even in the time period Blair Witch takes place, 1994, we still got that question, “Why didn’t they use their cell phones?” In 1994, not many people had cell phones, especially students. When we were shooting The Blair Witch in 1997 there was no cell phone reception in that park. It was just two square miles of woods and there was no reception at all. Today I think you’d have to figure out the cell phone issue in Blair. Technically (if shooting The Blair Witch today), they would have GoPros, they wouldn’t be lugging around 16mm cameras - that’s for sure, and Mike Williams wouldn’t have that sound rig. It was like a two square foot box he was lugging around, a huge digital audio recorder.
J: The box and the boom microphone.
J: I can’t wait to see that movie.
E: It’s a completely different kind of film than Blair. You have to keep in mind that when we were doing Blair Witch we were trying to make it real, “This is really happening. This is real footage and now were going to take this footage and were going to make a documentary out of it.” Like we were real documentarians. Now, you’re not fooling anybody. I was just trying to make a cool Bigfoot movie.
The technology to capture these films has definitely changed and will continue to change but at the same time good stuff still finds its way out of the crowd. Now it’s so much easier, if you’re extremely talented, to get noticed than it was before. With YouTube you can have your own channel. There are people making a living off of YouTube which is an amazing thing. It’s definitely cool and everybody’s trying to predict what’s going to happen. I just kind of step back and absorb stuff, observe, and just see where the next Kevin Smith, the next Spike Lee is coming from.
E: Well, as you know from writing horror, you have to figure out how to get people into danger, whether that’s psychological danger or physical danger, and how to isolate them. With my Bigfoot movie, it’s easy. You throw them in the woods, in a cabin, and then Bigfoot attacks. In a lot of horror movies the physical isolation is the easy part. The psychological isolation is what is really difficult. For Lovely Molly, I had to figure out how to get this woman back into her house where all these bad things happened. It was the economic reasons of not being able to have enough money, which is what a lot of America is facing right now. The idea of having a bunch of jobs and not being able to make ends meet forces you to go back to this place that you probably don’t want to have to go back to. I also think Molly had unfinished business and at the end of this ride, this horrendous trip into hell, it’s about Molly empowering herself in a really weird way. At the end of the movie she kind of wins, she deals with her shit, which I think was part of the reason she allowed herself to go back to this house.
J: She gets closure, one way or another.
E: She gets closure. She kind of rights these wrongs, whether it’s in her head or whether it’s real, she figures it out. At the end of it she’s like, “Alright. I’m fine. I’m going to walk into these woods and I’m good.” She’s taken care of business. There’s always a question of how much she remembers. Did she block it out? She tells the cop she doesn’t remember any of that stuff and he’s like, you’re lucky you don’t remember any of it. Gretchen Lodge [Molly] and I talked about this a lot. What is she doing going back? She knows she’s going to get into trouble by going back there but she has to get this part of her life behind her or she’ll never be normal.
J: Can you give us an update on the Bigfoot movie and V/H/S/2?
E: V/H/S/2 is playing festivals. It last played the Maryland Film Festival in May and is coming out on VOD on June 6. It’s got one of those VOD and then limited theatrical releases – on July 12. It was a really fun film to work on. All the film makers were at least ten years younger than Gregg (co-director) and I so it was kind of humbling. It was cool and they all had such great energy and their films are fantastic. It was cool to come back and be a part of something Dan Myrick and I popularized fifteen years ago. It was cool to be on the cutting edge of found footage again; even in the very little way that Gregg and I are involved in this movie. I really liked the first one and I think V/H/S/2 is much better than the first one. It’s more cohesive, it makes more sense, and it’s shorter; about a half hour shorter which helps in the found footage genre. I’m really proud of it and now there are a lot of people who want me to be part of other anthologies. I haven’t done a short film since film school and I discovered it’s a really great way to put an idea down and to work but not kill yourself. You can literally be done in a couple of months whereas a feature film usually takes at least a year if not two our of your life.
J: And the Bigfoot movie?
J: There’s definitely an audience for it. People our age grew up fearing the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot and unless you’re in Scotland you don’t have to worry too much about the Loch Ness Monster. But anywhere there are woods...
E: Anywhere there are woods, there are reports of Bigfoot. It was really important for me to be respectful of the real Bigfoot enthusiasts who respect it like a religion, and I understand that. They have a particular dislike of Harry and the Hendersons because it made Bigfoot a joke. So my whole thing, coming from that generation, is that you have to be respectful to them. I think Bigfoot enthusiasts from all over the world are going to love this movie, or at least they’re going to love the creature. It’s not just a monster; it’s Bigfoot. He has human characteristics and Brian does an amazing job showing that human side of the creature. We go in close and you get the money shot at the end of the movie; you see the creature. There’s this human element to it that I haven’t seen in a long time without CG. I think it’s going to be popular in those circles and I can’t wait to show people.