IFH 019: How to Make Terrifying Horror Films with Edwin Pagan



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Making scary independent horror films in the current marketplace is difficult to say the least. Today’s sophisticated audiences are getting harder and harder to scare every day

When many filmmakers start out they make a film in the horror genre. It worked for famed filmmakers like Guillermo del ToroSam RaimiGeorge RomeroJames WanJohn CarpenterWes CravenRoman PolanskiDavid Cronenberg and Alfred Hitchcock just to name a few.

In this week’s episode, I’m joined by the aficionado of horror films Edwin Pagan from LatinHorror.com. We discuss what it takes to make terrifying horror films, the difference between Latino horror films versus Korean or American horror films and what is truly terrifying.

We also packed this scary episode with indie filmmaking tips on the do’s and don’ts of indie horror filmmaking, adventures of a working cinematographer in New York City and what it really takes to scare the hell out of your audience.

Don’t listen to the episode alone. Happy Halloween and be safe everyone!

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Alex Ferrari 2:40
Edwin, thank you so much for joining us on this Halloween edition of Indie Film Hustle podcast.

Edwin Pagan 2:46
Thanks for having me on, man, that's a pleasure after you know, knowing you for so long and seeing you do this, this new initiative, which was fantastic. I like what you're doing with it, brother.

Alex Ferrari 2:55
I appreciate that, man. Thank you so much. Yeah, we met God, this is 2004 2005 something like that. 1004 Yeah, something like that. We met Yeah, around the time. Broken was around and we met at a leap from the National National Association of Latin independent producers. So yeah, we worked on a bunch of projects then. But yeah, it's it's another thing that a lot of people don't realize relationships, you know, like you you meet people and you create these relationships over years. And they do they they're very valuable in the future without without question.

Edwin Pagan 3:30
Oh, absolutely. And in fact, you know, we talked about your, your, what you're doing, and one of the ones I listened to the other night was a precisely about that you were talking about how filmmakers need to really build relationships and not just think that because they're on social media, they have a direct link to people's, you know, attention, right and I think that's something that's happened with people like you and I, who you know, know each other for quite a while aren't in contact all the time. What can say let's let's roll on this and it gets done because we know what's there does it there's an undercurrent of history, etc. That isn't we know

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Exactly. It's like if you know, if I if I called you up, I'm like, Hey, man, I want to do something with Latin horror, you know, and because we have that relationship, you'd be like, yeah, and like, you know, when we when we when we decided to do this podcast, you just call them up. It's like, hey, let's Yeah, let's do it. As opposed to just being a cold call. Right? And just like not knowing you, but that relationship. I mean, we're talking what 10 years now?

Edwin Pagan 4:25
Yeah, I know I don't know if you'd call me I know what I'm getting. So it's like you know, I know I know what you know, the curatorial processes is become secondary, because I know what I'm getting already.

Alex Ferrari 4:34
Exactly, exactly. And that that's, that's something that a lot of filmmakers don't get I get constantly bombarded with. Now, since indie film hustle is growing at such a rapid pace, I'm starting to get you know, people just sending over scripts to like, hey, can can I you know, where can I get money? I'm like, Who are you? Like, what's your name? Hi, how are you? Like, you know, and I I had another guy the other day contact me on Facebook and he was so sweet and so nice about everything and then we started a conversation and then I started to build a relationship with them a little bit and but he took interest in what I was doing and he was just it's just basic like manners almost you know

Edwin Pagan 5:18
Well you know that's the problem with social media it's become that's all eliminated you know people people want to say what they want to say and make it gospel and then they want to cut to the chase when it's their turn to do something and there is no manners You know, there is no no protocol and you know and with as you know, we both know this business takes up so much of our time that you got to have protocol because you got a wedge in there at the right time and not become a nuisance or else you know, your emails get blocked

Alex Ferrari 5:47
Your emails get blocked in you never get seen which is what that podcast that that was podcast God I don't even remember the number of of it's the are you in any filmmaker spammer? Right? Yeah, because I thought it was something that we should someone should say. So, anyway, we went off topic or we haven't even started our interview yet. So I wanted to I want to ask you you tell everybody a little bit about why you started Latinhorror.com

Edwin Pagan 6:16
Sure. You know, I mean, as you and I both know and other filmmakers that are listen to this, you know, you work on these big projects on times and I work a lot as a producer and a cinematographer. And what happens is you know, you come off these projects and all of a sudden you're you're you're crushing through a sugar rush, because you feel like right now there's nothing else on your plate, you know, and you're feeling for something and I remember one time this was in the in the beginning of 2008 I was kind of looking for something to keep me occupied innately with my skills and interests that would do that between projects and I knew that writing would probably be part of it. And you know, I'm a big horror fan and I'm Latino. And when they when I was thinking about that it just struck me those three words kind of floated around my head for a minute and I was like oh Latin horror but you know if I didn't think it would be out there I would think that that there wouldn't be interest so much I knew I was interested but I said no, I can't be that easy This must already have been grabbed up the idea you know the website all of it and when I started looking around no there was no website with that name that with no magazines with that name they were nobody there was no one really talking about it in that regard. I mean, if they were talking about Mexican horror, or Spanish horror, etc Yes, because it was in a nationalistic keyframe but as a whole you know as us talking about says this thing genre nobody was talking about that and I only came across a couple of DVDs as an anthology with three like b grade movies out of Mexico they were being sold sold online. And they were packages Latin horror, because when you bring it over, you can't say Hispanic or Mexican horror that much. You have to say you know, Latinos, this is Latinos. So they said LAN horror, it was more as a as a title than then a brand or a genre. And I started working working on the website throughout that year and launched it on Halloween. Okay, 1008 my friend of mine wanted to put up his part of the website or place where people could register and I allowed him to do that and I hadn't checked back on it in a couple of months when I came back I had around 3000 people that had registered now Wow, I blew my mind because it was like oh, that there's a big interest for this but you know, they you know, it was an even split between Latinos and non Latinos because horror fans are avid Yeah, if you hear anything, Horry, you're going to it and they were like, you know, what's this thing? He's talking about Latin horror. And at the time, I was using a monitor that was first came rockin espanol now we have Latin horror because they went through the same when they were little kiddos were doing rockin espanol people were like what's that even though her name kind of told you what it was right now you don't have that issue. You know rockin espanol is is what it is. And I think the same over the last you know, set of years almost like seven eight years, people have come on board with the concept as well I have people about 20 or 30 DVDs that I get a year where people have self proclaimed the genre they're working and as Latin horror you know, it's not so far fetched for people to say that and click with it anymore you know and it's expanding so you know, I can't claim to have created the genre you know, people working in it, they just hadn't sort of consolidated into a brand or or genre it's kind of like saying with we're taking ownership of it under this umbrella that I can claim but you know, it's it's it's it's really is to make sure that it just moved forward and that, that we're all working together and can you know, take ownership of our own genre, the same is you know, Japanese, or, or Italian or Korean horror, you know, and so now, little by little, we're also fleshing out what that is, you know because when you first come up with a concept you still you know have to really historically carve it out and what does it mean in a trajectory over time and you know those have come before and created work that fits and sort of you know, create the brand in a way that makes sense for everyone not just because you had an idea

Alex Ferrari 10:20
Now I have a question for you now i i love i love good horror, you know, I'm not I'm not a huge like, I don't like blood and guts. You know, I enjoy the old slasher flick from the 80s you know, those are fun, but I'm not you know, it's not something I actually go after. So I'm not familiar with a lot of Latin horror to be honest with you, other than obviously good Mo. That Dora which is he's probably the, the leader of the of the movement, right and what he does, but and I think this is a this is a broader question in regards to Latin culture in general, but I know Mexican I know Mexican horror, I've heard of Mexican horror, is there Nicaraguan horror is the Colombian horror is there as a teen horror,

Edwin Pagan 11:00
There are spurts of it. I think one of the one of the biggest South American Central American countries that sort of on the cusp and the leading cusp of it is Valentina right now. You have great food a lot of great and you know, one of the things that's interesting is that in this past year, the country proper you know, the government actually started trying to revive their film industry. And that came as a direct result of the Argentinian filmmakers that are working in genre there but specifically horror who were getting a lot of tension outside the country and the country looked at itself and said you know, we really have to push this and you know, it's interesting that the genre report itself is the one that's kind of reactivated the industry there. You know, Mexican horror as you said, you know, they've been doing it forever they're really good at it. Spain is at the leading end of a lot of horror films. And I think you know, what, really what we're talking about is that the differences and I think the total some that are best quite a few years ago when he said and I'm paraphrasing here, he said that American Horror attempts to destroy the physical the body right, we talked about that slasher porn and all of that, which you know, it can be fun sometimes, right? You want to see how the best new gimmick to destroy a city can be fun, but it gets old after a few films and it's the same gimmick right and but Latin horror on the other spectrum is about destroying the mind and the soul. Right? So it really goes back to the suspense, the supernatural and what's lurking in the shadows. You know, there's all these characters from Latino folklore like l kuko. Law, Your Honor, yeah, weeping, sure, etc. And one of the things that makes that particularly terrifying, like in the case of Google, for instance, is that when your parents tell you, you have to go to bed, or you have to finish your homework, or also Google is going to get you the fact remains that they never explain exactly what Google is.

Alex Ferrari 13:04
Can you tell me I actually I've actually never heard of nkuku I've heard I've never heard of I'm Cuban Okay, so I have not heard I've not heard of a cuckoo I've heard of your own I've heard a ton but never

Edwin Pagan 13:17
El Kuko it but that's the interesting thing about el kuko It's a lot in Mexico and Puerto Rico. And it's it's it's it's not described in any fashion, it's just some ether of being that if you don't behave is going to come in the middle of the boogeyman, and the boogeyman to some degree, you know, the crack and whatever but but al Kuko there's no description of what it is. And because of that your mind fills in the blank if you're like an eight year old child in a room and your mother tells you better go to bed and cuckoo is gonna get you that you're ducking under your mind is filling in what l kuko is because it's never described, right? And I think that you know, that goes to our idiosyncratic literature traditions of sort of Latin America, Spain, Mexico, South and Central America where we have a long tradition of the of storytelling and a lot of it is Gothic, a lot of it has to do with our our religious faith, you know, beliefs and, and we fill in those blanks and so to us, going to see a horror movie and as you said, a good horror movie, you're making this distinction between the stuff that has all plot and then this happens, and then that happens in there's bodies falling heads are coming off, versus Latin horror, which is a lot grounded in story in character, mythology, right, and mythology and our idiosyncratic traditions of storytelling. And that's a big thing that's making a difference where a lot of people are gravitating to it because, you know, even an American, you know, culture coming on board because they're looking at it the way they looked at their horror in the 40s 50s and 60s, where it was more about that, you know, and I think people are sort of like thirsty For that again and so you're starting to little by little see the dial turn back the other way, where a lot of these movies that are coming out and you know, so called slasher porn are not doing so well at the box office because people you know, people at the end of the day are intelligent, they want their, they want their, their buttons pushed in a way that that, you know, that pulls that adrenaline out and sort of takes them to another level. And even though the slasher films do that, and I'm a fan of them to some degree, it isn't the same as when you you know, you're you're sort of manipulated, like a puppet on a string by a master like someone like el mo and others who really know how to do that in a way that it isn't just a cat jumping out of the cupboard, you know, right. It really holds you you know, you have white knuckles on the theater seat versus, you know, just whip lashing back because, you know, something jumped out all of a sudden, and that happens, you know, and there's blood in Latin horror, to some degree, but it isn't. It isn't about that. Well, yeah, like characters still. Always king and queen,

Alex Ferrari 16:01
Right! So like when you I was watching an interview with Guillermo the other day in regards to his to Pan's Labyrinth. And like, and you start to and it starts thinking back you think of when I thought of good mom like, Oh, yeah, he's, uh, he's that horror guy. I mean, obviously, he's done many other things. But you know, he's before it's like, oh, yeah, he's the horror guy, he did this. But then you start thinking back, like his films are not violent or bloody in that sense. They're not they're very psychological. And it was a great, great line that he said, which was awesome that somebody told him when he did Pan's Labyrinth that he goes, it's a really good movie, maybe you should bring down the violence a bit. So it can reach a broader audience. Again, because I don't care about but broader audience, I want its audience to enjoy it. You know, there's people who love it and know people who will hate it. But it's, that's why I wanted to make my movie, which is such a great statement to say as a filmmaker.

Edwin Pagan 16:54
And you see that even as in his lifestyle as a working artist, where he'll do a big blockbuster like Pacific Rim and sure we'll go back and do something like he's doing now with Crimson Crimson Peak.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
Yeah. Which is in there's not really anybody else that could do something like that in a studio level at this point. Like there's just there's nobody else that the studio would give. And it was such a low budget to write Crimson peaks not

Edwin Pagan 17:16
It's relatively You know, I think where you're seeing the bigger scale of the budget is almost in the promotion of it, but I think that as blockbusters go this is this is not a tentpole film now but it has that production value because he's such a genius when it comes to production design and sort of building out the world of his films that you know, they they're 10 times larger than the than the fiscal a lot and it's gonna, you know, show and then he pulls it out.

Alex Ferrari 17:46
And then he just said also that his budget for visual effects on the entire movies like three 4 million bucks, which is insane for a scope of a film like that, but then you start but he's knows how to do it. He like, he learned a lot in pants, like he did all of that for like 2,000,002 to three.

Edwin Pagan 18:01
Well there's, there's one thing that a lot of people don't know is that actually when Guillermo del Toro started he started out doing makeup effects, special effects, typical effects and effects so he knows that world inside out that's where he started before he started directing. So you know he's one of those people who's a natural born illustrator, an artist and visual artists and so you know, to him that goes hand in hand there is no dis you know, no separating Guillermo from the visual artists so you know, you know he gets kudos for being this amazing director. But he's he's a he's a born natural visual artist and you know, the Gothic and the mccobb is his his Wellspring and so when you put those two things together Ain't nobody pulling it out of the hat like he can

Alex Ferrari 18:48
No no no he is very unique voice in in the world today especially as a filmmaker no question. Now let me ask you a question. Why do you love horror films so much?

Edwin Pagan 18:58
You know, that's an interesting question. I still to this day, can't answer that. I mean, I love I love what how they make me feel I like the suspense that's, that's born out of it. You know, whenever I go to a dark theater, and I'm sharing this experience with three 400 other people. But the genesis of it began actually when I was a kid, my my sister at the time, my sister's a lot older than she is about 18 years older than me. So I was about, I don't know, 789 at the most, and my sister would you know, at the time she was gone. She was dating the gentleman that ultimately would be become a husband and father of her children. And my mother, on the other hand, wasn't having it. And she had me go along on these dates, you know, and I guess they liked horror, you know, or it Wow, her her fiance's knack of taking her that because he knew she would have to wrap her arms up, and they would always take me long, you know, and the first movie we ever saw together was Tales of the crypt, the original bridge. Production for Wow. And then the next movie that we solved together was the exorcist. Oh, you know, you know, top heavy stuff. I don't think I should have even been seen at that age. There was something about it the fear and the thought that remained with me Oh, you know, like weeks afterwards. And it wasn't a few like I was cringing on the covers, it was like, I want more, it was almost like I became addicted to it to some degree, you know. And then you know, as I was able to go to the theater on my own with my friends, etc, we would always gravitate and then again, I was I came of age as a as a teenager, etc, in the 80s. So this is Yeah, you know, Halloween and all these fantastic the thing which is one of my favorite movies. You know, I grew up in that time where all these movies were out. And they did have a little bit of the gore, they did have a lot of, you know, the Friday hitting the floor, but they were also character driven. And you know, we're talking a lot about the visual effects were practical effects, which always seems to sell and we'll be more than just 100% Digital. And, you know, I just, I don't know I think I was lucky in that sense that I was I was exposed to it at the right age became hooked to it. And you know, grew up in an age where horror was the the flavor of the month, people were really into their horror films at that time.

Alex Ferrari 21:23
I remember. I remember having Friday. I mean, they used to sell Friday, like action figures. I mean to kids, it was like it was the 80s where you can sell an R rated movie merchandise. There was like I think the Robocop Yeah, the Robocop toys.

Edwin Pagan 21:39
You know, your parents said, okay, you're gonna go to movies, that's all they you know, he's gonna be somewhere safe. Exactly. You know, they weren't like too too keen on vetting the content and imagine better or worse, I think, you know, it had a pronounced impact on me and I think that was the genesis but you know, got hooked and have been a horror lover and patron ever since.

Alex Ferrari 21:58
Now what? What makes a good horror movie?

Edwin Pagan 22:03
Well, I think we go back to the basics of nkuku I think a good horror movie is the movie that sort of keeps you in suspense until the payoff right and and and, you know, and again, if we go to the distinction between American Horror movies, and Latin horror movies, or non la or non Latino horror movies, not just keep picking on the American Horror movies. Part of what happens is that you know, from frame one, and the non Latino horror movie, people are dropping heads are coming off, people are vanishing. And we don't kind of take in you know, yeah, we're a little spooked. But there's no we got to get out of here. There's no something really terrible is going on here. And we're sort of negating it, you know, like 50% to 90% that anything really horrible is taking place that's why people keep dropping right there. There's like, they keep falling into the mousetrap even though there's already a mouse, you know, kind of cut in half there. And, and in a Latino horror movie, from frame one, we believe that there's something going on that there's a spirit that there's a demon that there's an entity that there's some sort of otherworldly phenomenon going on. And so we we that's it that's done that's a done deal. We take it for granted because of our religious beliefs, etc. And then we go forward, wanting to know why it's happening. How can I get rid of it? How can I, you know, get back to normal. And one of the things that you'll see in a lot of horror movies that a lot of it, it's it's unresolved sort of otherworldly tension, for instance, that somebody died in the house in a very horrific way. And now the spirit is in limbo until someone can find out who it was that killed them and sort of bring around closure on that right. And again, it's story based so there's this whole sequence playing out throughout the movie where we're interacting with this thing and not just trying to avoid it even though it's it's definitely interacting with us.

Alex Ferrari 23:57
Now, what would it you might have the answer to this is just where was the origins of horror? Like what's the oldest horror story? I mean, I'm thinking I'm going back to like, you know, the Christmas carol with the ghosts, but like, Where's the some of the first Genesis like that the Greeks talked about, you know, all the

Edwin Pagan 24:17
Greeks, the Greeks definitely talked about tragedy, you know, the foibles of man etc. there and in it in it, and there's a lot of darkness in those, but I think a lot of it came from Europe, you know, when the plagues of going on, right, even before that, we're talking about the Middle Ages where, you know, the Gothic era was in full play. We're not talking about Gothic in the sense of England, in the 1800s 1700s 1800s. They were now writing about it, but you know, it goes way back where

Alex Ferrari 24:47
100 1300

Edwin Pagan 24:49
1300 where you you'd certainly see these things playing out in a very real way where people were taking it as Gospel to some degree. That what is making these things happens we're not natural but you know maybe another another world from some someone was causing this to happen and then you come into the you know the 16 1700 1800s where you have even Nursery Rhymes based on these plagues we know this which is a feud and then you'd ring

Alex Ferrari 25:19
Around the Rosie

Edwin Pagan 25:21
Listen to the words you're talking about we're talking about the black plague. Why are we doing this to my four year old

Alex Ferrari 25:26
I know I was singing because I've twin daughters now they're almost four and and they were singing ring around the Rosie pocket full of posey and I'm like and then we all fall down I'm like that that's about the frickin plague.

Edwin Pagan 25:40
But I think that I think that what's colored a lot of modern you know movies horror movies has been definitely the Gothic period in England where they were masters of sort of that that storytelling technique you know when Frankenstein was written you know, these Dracula Sherif Dracula and, and also you know, the the grim that the Germany the grimms, fairy tales, etc, but then you have it sort of like then colored by the, by the palette of German Expressionism and sort of that, that look which if you if you sort of look at the, the directors of the 20s and 30s that came here and started even working in Hollywood, most of them were like from Germany, etc. And, and they brought over into those horror films that that palette of German Expressionism, which kind of is like a precursor to film noir, etc. But you know, that, that if you look at any horror film, where even if it's in color, we're still using that sort of that palette of darks and shadows, chiaroscuro, for lack of a better word, where we're doing that, you know, and I've had incidents on our films that as a cinematographer, where I kick over like, by mistake or or someone does, and it hits the floor, but doesn't if the bulb doesn't burst, I look at him like, Oh, that's perfect, leave it there. It looks fantastic, you know, creative, some new shadows. We hadn't even seen or you turn off a light by mistake and you say, Oh, that's better. It was over lit before this is much better, you know, right. And so you have this whole this whole psyche coming out of out of those periods, that's still what's kind of coloring cinema today, the best cinema that's actually a Crimson Peak. That's where you can see the emulador flourishing the best because he's going back to these romantic Gothic novels as an inspiration for the work he's doing now. And that's he lives there.

Alex Ferrari 27:27
Right! Yeah. And I've seen that I've seen that video of his Bleak House exam which is just insane his house of I mean, it's like it's a playground, it's it's so beautiful. Like the the man is built is the ultimate man cave.

Edwin Pagan 27:44
I know I would kill to have something like that. And you know, I wouldn't you know, I think I was just telling my girlfriend last night I said, I'd settle i'd settled for the man room instead of like, you know, that mansion. He has it. It's interesting, because I was at the New York Times building just last night, and they were four times talk. And Guillermo del Toro was the person who was supposed to be the featured guest and then they announced just before we went in that he had gotten ill and wasn't going to be able to to attend you know, so it's kind of a bummer. But you know, the man is all over the place the oh god man is and and but he loves it, you know, because he's he's not only promoting himself, but he's also you know, he has that Midas touch that when he finds young talent, their work gets greenlit and and he's moving it forward. And you see his distinctive style even though he's not the one directing a particular film that he produces or comes on his executive producer. You see his his thumbnail, a thumbnail print all over it, you know, and he's remarkable in that sense, you know, and hopefully, I mean, it just keeps opening up doors for other people working in genre that a respectable to the craft to continue to blossom. And you know, we can get more intelligent or films out there.

Alex Ferrari 29:01
Exactly. Now, with that said, What do you feel how do you feel about all of these found footage, Paranormal Activity style horror films?

Edwin Pagan 29:09
You know, I'm not into it. I got to say, you know, I've seen one or two that have captivated me for an hour or two. But for the most part, you know, I remember years ago, I went to see the one that started a lot less Blair Witch share here in New York at the anthology film archives, because I think that the filmmakers originated here in New York, and I think they did one of the early screenings here in New York, and I went to see it and you know, I mean, I had gotten caught up with the mythologize.

Alex Ferrari 29:37
I was brilliantly marketed really Oh my god, brilliant. I couldn't tell

Edwin Pagan 29:41
what was real and not and then I went to see the movie and I think 45 minutes and I actually left. Oh, really? Yeah. And if it hadn't been I saw it later on because I wanted to really see what really happened but I remember leaving sneaking out. And then you know, if it wasn't for the fact that it was a free screening, I probably would have went to the box office and they're mad at me. money back right and that's not and that's not to put the movie down it's just that that particular you know we all have a taste for things some are quiet Some are just naturally part of what we desire and I never really sort of bought into the that particular style sub genre of horror and you know, I don't know for me it just doesn't do it for me you know with the whole shakey cam which I've seen done very well in other films like wreck Spanish film, you know, but for the most part I don't know I haven't yet to seen something that's blown me away in that genre so you know I mean others would have a different take on it but you know, all I can be all I can answer that from my personal point of view.

Alex Ferrari 30:42
Yeah, I mean, I when I saw Blair Witch, too, I saw it. I didn't I don't remember if I knew what was going on. The only thing I did, I thought that was missing and clear which is at the very end when the camera falls on the ground, right? I just wanted to see a pair of floating feet yeah, that's all I needed. Yeah, I get chills even thinking about it if I would have just seen

Edwin Pagan 31:06
Those guys those guys have done well and they work

Alex Ferrari 31:09
Yeah, Edward Edward. Edward Sanchez is the direct one of the Co directors Yeah, yeah, he's working he's working now on from dusk till dawn the series

Edwin Pagan 31:18
Yeah you know Yeah, they know everybody starts you got to think about this is like the formative work right so

Alex Ferrari 31:24
God no but it was look I will never take anything away from I think they have the one of the most brilliant marketing campaigns in the last 30 years on essential movies

Edwin Pagan 31:32
And they started to genre pretty much you know, they pretty much take that away from them and you're saying that you know personally on my end found footage films are not my my cup of tea but other than that, you know, it's not a it's just about taste sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 31:45
Now what's your favorite sub genre of horror that there are many different genres of horror What's your favorite kind of

Edwin Pagan 31:50
Orland I'm still taking you know I'm still finding that people are doing really interesting things with the zombie genre which is very hot obviously which is very hot but I think that it's also just it's a good thing to play with because I think that you know, I mean, what what more horrible an idea than anyone you know, can all of a sudden turn against you and eat you

Alex Ferrari 32:15
And eat you

Edwin Pagan 32:17
Eat's you alive alive. It's not like they're gonna like tranquilize it for you alive, right? You're being consumed and going through that pain. So I think that you know, I become a big zombie fan on there's a lot of shows obviously that a lot of walking dead you know, the lead up after that, etc. But I think that still people are exploring it in interesting ways. And you know what's interesting? Here's a little trivia for people that may not know the Godfather I should say the grandfather of the zombie genre is Latino Of course George Romero. George Romero Cuban American from the Bronx I didn't know he was Cuban. George's American bro

Alex Ferrari 33:06
Wow, I didn't know it was

Edwin Pagan 33:08
South Bronx right? created the genre zombie genre as we know it that's not to say that zombies didn't exist before that because you know there are films that they appear in in some form and particularly with films out of like you know that covered supposedly show Haiti with the Voodoo etc where they share like the sort of walking slaves you know, where chemicals are thrown in their face and concoctions and all sudden they're there at the beck and call up the master. So but in terms of what we know, the zombie as what it's kind of evolved to he's he created that in Night Night of the Living Dead, right? And then I throw little zombies and Latino.

Alex Ferrari 33:48
I know, right? It's, a lot of people don't know that. You're right. A lot of people don't understand that the zombie started but with George in that black and white movie, which which fell into public domain. And I don't understand I really one day would love to know why that happened. Yeah.

Edwin Pagan 34:04
Well, I know that it was a mistake that the producers did at one point, obviously. Yeah. And it went into that the exact things he never really talks about it too much. He just cracks up about how they messed up big time. Yeah. And he uses more expensive words, because he's like that when he's being interviewed. He just like, you know, he just throws it out there. But you know, it's funny because I think there's Latin horror on on Saturday, October 24th. Here in New York City, is doing an event where Bobby sanaria who's a very well known bandleader musician is going to be we're going to be showing the film with the Bronx music Heritage Center as a public event where we're going to be showing the movie made a living there in black and white. with Bobby and his bandmates actually doing the score to the movie like they did in the QA. That's gonna be a nice little event.

Alex Ferrari 34:58
Oh, there's so much fun.

Edwin Pagan 35:00
Yeah, you know, so that kind of stuff, you know, so obviously, you know, if it was in public domain, we probably couldn't pull that one off. Right. You know, it's it. You know, it's sad, though. But you know, like he says, he said in interviews before, you know, the world is better for it to some degree, even though his bank account isn't

Alex Ferrari 35:17
Right, because everyone now gets to see it. And it'll probably get farther distributed, if you will.

Edwin Pagan 35:22
And then look what it's caused with the fact that, you know, it wasn't a patented idea.

Alex Ferrari 35:26
No, it wasn't exactly

Edwin Pagan 35:28
So the hoariest I probably wouldn't have gotten to the level if they would have had the reins on it.

Alex Ferrari 35:33
I can and like movies like was it not a Dawn of the Dead? This the one in the mall? Dawn of the Dead? Yeah, that was like you You look at his it was George that did that one, right? Yes, he did. Yeah, that that movie, all the

Edwin Pagan 35:47
And the 30 others of the dead.

Alex Ferrari 35:50
Yeah, exactly. But that specific one, I remember watching something's talking about the basically social commentary he was making? Oh, exactly. It wasn't just about a bunch of zombies, it was about exactly about and so you can start looking deeper. And, you know, into it than just, you know, of course, there's some blood and guts in it. But if you look at it, he was making social commentary about the times and things like that, which was what good art should do, regardless of genre.

Edwin Pagan 36:14
And you know, and it's interesting, because film scholars and you know, people that deconstruct images, exactly, particularly in film, have noted many times that more than any other genre, horror does kind of become a frame of the times, if you look at many of the horror films, you'll see that they're sort of echoing a lot of the concerns and passions of the time, in a different way. So it's known for sort of kind of becoming a sort of a time capsule for the period in which the film was done. So then

Alex Ferrari 36:43
Why is it now that apocalyptic zombie movies have become an zombie genre has become so popular in today's world? That's a good question.

Edwin Pagan 36:54
I think I think, and I read an article recently about that, I forget who wrote it, but you know, they were making the comparison with you know, everything that's happening now with terrorism, and how all these borders are being erased. And whereas at one point, your enemy was was, you know, you able to point out your enemy, because you were both wearing uniform,

Alex Ferrari 37:13
Right, but when was one of the Black Cat one was wearing the white hat, right?

Edwin Pagan 37:16
And now that's been erased. And so you know, a person down the street to be somebody looking out to the, you know, to destroy you or attack you, and vice versa, because, you know, we do it overseas as well. And so, you know, I think that's the genesis for sort of the what's happening now with all of this stuff, that it could come from anywhere viruses and things of that nature,

Alex Ferrari 37:36
Economic hits,

Edwin Pagan 37:39
There's a ton of thing, you know, the whole global economy, and how all this sort of blurring of borders is now creating all these other, you know, blowback effects.

Alex Ferrari 37:49
Very, sounds very true. Now, let me ask you, do you think it's tougher today to scare an audience member than it was 20 years ago?

Edwin Pagan 37:56
I think so. I think we're very jaded. You know, I myself, I'm going to go to a good horror film or you know, what I think is going to be a good horror film, because, you know, you can be deceived by the trailers and all the publicity and sometimes much better, you know, in short runs, like a teaser, or a trailer or posters, and, you know, and you go see the film, and I'm sitting there practically laughing at how corny the execution of it is, or how bad the story is. Right. And so I think, I think, you know, and I think but that's true of modern audiences across the board. I think we're, you know, MTV educated us to be more sophisticated of how much information we can take in in a minute with the fast cutting in this and then you know, just the linear time kind of consumption of images and and, and we're more into intelligent you know, I mean, a lot of the stuff that we were afraid of in the 50s 40s and even before that, even in our Latin American literature, now we look at and we're like, no, that's an old wives tale. And so for someone that really you know, come out and really pull the strings in a way that really makes our adrenaline sort of bubble up and you know, in our psyche get engaged in that way and that dark space, it takes a lot more effort and I think that's one of the reasons they're going back to old fashioned storytelling like the Gothic novels the suspense the thriller, you know, instead of the slasher you know, the slasher is a good it's a good you know, it's good like a roller coaster ride but if you really want to get scared you go into the haunted house,

Alex Ferrari 39:25
Right and the thing is a slasher film I think in a lot of ways is a lot easier to make them a psychological thriller or something that gets you in your bones or in your mind.

Edwin Pagan 39:37
I would have to agree with that to a certain degree because also you know, it's not a blanket statement one you know, the technique of having to make a lot of those. Those slasher films pay off takes some skill. Oh, that's um, but I think when you have to really like finesse, the story, the acting and let those things play out. You know, as you shot it on set and then how it is Cuts later when the editor and you are in there, you know, cutting the film. There's a lot of skill in that because you know, how long do you hold a shot?

Alex Ferrari 40:08
How, How much blood is in the shot?

Edwin Pagan 40:11
What you don't reveal, you know, and sometimes, you know, holding back some information. So the right moment is all it takes. Right? So it isn't about Oh, look at this, look at that, look at this. Sometimes it's just like, Alright, you play with the audience, you hold a little bit of information that, you know, they're thinking about that they're going to sort of, you know, because everybody wants to figure it out. We go to horror film any film these days. And from frame one, we swear we already know who the killer is what's going to happen.

Alex Ferrari 40:36
It's so tough. It's so tough, being a filmmaker and a storyteller now.

Edwin Pagan 40:41
Part of your job these days is how to, like you know how to become that ringleader that's making, you know, the lion jump through the hoop and all of a sudden an elephant comes through and it's like, oh, what just happened? Yeah, it's like, it's it's a tough genre. But it's, you know, I think it's a genre that you know, every year they they, they they announced the death of the horror film and house, but you know, it's the studio's themselves because it's always they announced that that starts coming to the fore when their big 10th film comes and then on their low season, they're putting out these more low budget films that provide a bigger you know, return on the investment also in horror as a back end, it's you know, it's crap. It's the game they play. So film films, horror films are not going anywhere, anytime soon, or anytime in long run. So as long as we are in, we have the capacity to still feel fear. And, and that sort of high end emotion of you know, self preservation in the face of here. It's not going anywhere.

Alex Ferrari 41:41
No, agreed and and that was I was just watching something on Hitchcock the other day, it was one of my favorite directors of all time. Oh, yeah. And the master of suspense, and he did a lot for for suspense, thrillers, not as much horror, but suspense. I mean, he was the guy, he was the master, and how he shot psycho specifically in black and white, because he didn't want to see any blood because he can't stand blood. He said he couldn't stand blood. So he shot it in black and white, and that you barely and you and during the infamous shower scene, you never, ever see the knife go in, ever. Oh,

Edwin Pagan 42:17
No, no, it's just up in the air. It's coming down

Alex Ferrari 42:22
Shot of the eye shot of this. And it's masterful. It's why everyone studies it. It's why everyone studies it. So you're also not only a horror, Maven, and fan, but you're also a cinematographer. So what made you want to jump behind the camera as a cinematographer? as out of all the jobs you could do in the film business? Well,

Edwin Pagan 42:42
I started there. I you know, in the South Bronx when I was about 10 years old, my mother enrolled me in the the boys club so I you know, the Madison Square boys club Hill Avenue clubhouse in the South Bronx, as a way to keep me sort of reined in, you know, this is the 80s and all this stuff is happening. You know, actually it was when I was 10, it was the 70s. And so, you know, a lot is going on in the South Bronx. Oh, yeah. And so she, you know, she was raising me as a single single parent, and she we had just moved into the area. And she found out about the boys club and enrolled me there. And you know, I made friends very quickly there. And one of the things I discovered early on after becoming a member at the age of 10, was that they had a darkroom in the basement. And there was a gentleman there who was the art director for the boys club Ernesto lanzado, who sort of became my my teacher and mentor for about eight years while I was you know, learning my craft and it's ironic because I had only tripped into that as a bunch of my friends and I had gone into the woodshop right next door and the pottery room to get some place where we can go outside and help each other with clay have a cleaning industry and but when I went by the dark room, which was outside of those other two rooms, I stopped at the doorframe for a moment because it was you know this room is painted black it was Ernesto was in there with two other students and I was by the door a little too long and he said well you're either in or out because he just during the class and I left of course so they went to be with my friends but I came back the next day and he started telling me when they met what they could teach me that it would be fun that it would be creative, I had nothing to lose and I started coming to the classes I was hooked and I learned how to take photos develop black and white film make my own prints

Alex Ferrari 44:27
This thing this thing film you speak of what is that?

Edwin Pagan 44:30
Oh chemical process. Is this salt silver salts on an acetate that you know it gets exposed?

Alex Ferrari 44:39
You're speaking gibberish sir. Are you okay?

Edwin Pagan 44:43
I have fever fever. You know, and I was hooked I was hooked the magic of it of watching. You know, a print come to life after you. you expose the paper and scan it in the developer. It's

Alex Ferrari 44:57
It's magical, really.

Edwin Pagan 44:58
It's magical and You know, but by the time I was about 1718, I was called into the director's office Rob Porter. I still remember him Kylie's great man. And and they asked me if I was interested in taking these two classes at School of Visual Arts that they had some vouchers for one was in production, the other was in cinematography. So I went, you know, the the week of the the first class and I was in producing, you know, at the time, I'm 1718, you know, crunching numbers, creating schedules, I was like, This is not for me. And so I went back the next day, I said, Well, I don't know about that producing class at the time. And he says, Well, that's fine, we'll give this one to another student, another member of the boys club, but go tomorrow and check out the one on cinematography. And of course, that fit like a glove, right? There was nothing they were doing there that was foreign to me or was an interesting except now we're working with with moving pictures.

Alex Ferrari 45:51
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Edwin Pagan 46:01
And over the years, I just, you know, little by little got into cinematography proper, and ending up on people's sets being kind of like a shadow. And little by little being given jobs, smaller jobs to do until, you know, eventually I was the cinematographer on on projects in both small and big. But in New York, mostly, you know, smaller budgeted films all in the work, but it was a great proving ground and, you know, Jesus Christ, it's of what now it's like, you know, 2530 years that I've been a cinematographer,

Alex Ferrari 46:35
And you've been most and most of that time you've been in New York,

Edwin Pagan 46:37
In New York, for sure, you know, so I've worked almost with everybody in New York, who's done something. And the interesting thing is that, you know, I've directed as well and written as well, but the one thing that I would still do an atelier, if I'm given the choice as cinematography, you know, I like directing. But, you know, there's always that that passion that you would do whether you there was nothing else you could do. And I think photography and, and, and, and cinematography are still the things that I gravitate to the most, you know,

Alex Ferrari 47:07
Now, can you tell me a little? Can you tell me a little bit about the New York independent film scene? Because I'm from LA, and I'm originally from Miami, as you know, right? So I know the Miami film independent film scene, and I know the LA scene, but I don't know a lot about other than what I've read and stuff like that. Right? How is it on the street, like, if you will, of the indie film scene there?

Edwin Pagan 47:28
Well, you know, one of the things that happens in New York that I think doesn't happen as much in other places is that you know, people really come together and you know, it's kind of a testing proving ground or good way to learn. And a lot of people work on a lot of people's they cross pollinate projects. And so a lot of people go to film school here, or just sort of get into the the craft just by osmosis, because you know, they're around people that do it or are interested. And so you get a lot of people that sort of working on small projects, and, and are looking for people to work with them. And you know, a lot of people that have the skills when they're in between other projects, sometimes even if they're seasoned craftspeople will work on smaller, smaller films, because there's creativity on smaller projects that sometimes doesn't happen on bigger budget projects, in terms of the fun that you can have, and you know how loose it is. And so, I got into, you know, what, when I, when I started really becoming a cinematographer, I started sort of hanging out with other filmmakers that already had a little bit of a track record. And I remember one time distinctively a friend of mine who I had said that I wanted to get back into filmmaking because I got also got into theater for a while. And after a small period there where I wasn't doing any film. A friend of mine, Sonia Gonzalez, who was a filmmaker itself, basically mentioned that a small group was forming in New York, called naleo, the National Association of Latino independent producers. And the organization itself hadn't been around very long at that time, they were forming chapters, the National Board was sort of evolving. And I started going to these meetings and you know, there would be 25 3040 people there, they would meeting at that time at WNET 13 on West 30th Street. And, you know, it was like, just so I mean, you know, it's even hard to describe there was a feeling about all these young people that were creative, sort of getting together and showing their sample work or you know, showing up next, or something that they wasn't working development, etc, or even showing work that was already had been broadcast because he had some people coming in that had more experience. And, you know, over the years, that group grew, I mean, it's grown from what it was, at that time, probably about three or four chapters to now like, I think over 18 chapters across the country, you know, it's it's a force to be reckoned with, but a lot of people that at that time that I was part of it, have gone on to do you know, major work, you know, Alex Rivera, Christina ivara, Sonia Gonzalez, you know, just dozens of people who cut their teeth during that time just by interacting with each other and have gone on to do you know, like, you know, serious work and TV, and film and documentary for the most part. And but New York is like that New York, you know, people want to get together and I've gone to LA and I've done projects in LA, both commercials and narrative work. And if you're if you hit the floor in LA, on the West Coast for a period of time, and you talk to people about your project, they also Oh, I'm in I'm in but when you're getting ready, getting closer, it's all about what's the budget? And what's the line item for me. And you know, and I can respect that right? Because I get pretty antsy when I get the script. And it's all you know, this is a no budget thing. But you got to have a little wiggle room, you know, and but you know, but that's how LA and LA is all business and it's that's what you go there to town to get to create and work and and the work there is primarily business. That's how you earn your living. And I think in New York, a lot of people do other things as they're developing their craft, and a willing to sort of roll their sleeves up with other filmmakers to get the experience through. So there's sort of a effervescence that bubbles up here in New York among independent filmmakers that you probably don't see anywhere else. And another thing that happens in New York is that because of the the transportation hub, the infrastructure for people to get around, you can say we're going to meet in an hour and you can have 25 people meet at that location because it doesn't take it isn't that hard to sign it kind of get there. Yeah. You want to have a meeting, even if it's a membership meeting, and you have it in LA and people are coming out from the outer regions or the Hollywood Hills, or whatnot. You know, it's gonna probably take them an hour, two hours or three hours in LA traffic, right? And so that's a turn off. And it's a little harder to do it there. But New York, it's always been you know, and you have an app the inactive film hub in New York, you know, the the television industry is popping in New York always has Yeah, there were pockets of time where, you know, it wasn't so much but there's always activity in New York, you can't go out on a weekend or any weekday and walk anywhere in New York, where you don't see some evidence of a film in production, whether it's small or large, you know, it's just it's just part and parcel. People don't even get taken aback anymore by seeing a film production, you know, they just want to get by, you know,

Alex Ferrari 52:22
That's an event. It's very New York. I don't know, I don't know if you know this or not, but I lived in New York for 10 years. When I was growing up. I was I grew up in Queens. And the one thing I noticed and people always ask me about LA and New York and like, what's the difference as far as the film industry is concerned? And what I always say is like, if New York if film if the film industry literally left New York tomorrow, New York is New York, right? But if if the film industry left Los Angeles today it's gone the city would the city would come crumbling down around that's

Edwin Pagan 52:56
That's a fantastic observation. I hadn't looked at it that way. That's very true.

Alex Ferrari 53:00
I mean, New York's New York I mean in New York has millions of other industries while Um Don't get me wrong, LA is a you know, it's a third second biggest city in the country. And its massive, but it's based in built on in the film industry. So if you took if you took the film industry out completely like it, the whole city would fall, I think would fall apart.

Edwin Pagan 53:19
It would dry up somewhat, you know, you're in New York. I mean, I think you're right, because I think New York is New York, and there has happens to be filming. Right? Exactly. You know, the city. I mean, they'll lose the they'll lose some income. And it's like London,

Alex Ferrari 53:33
Like like London, I need that there's some film in London and there's a lot of film in London. Don't get me wrong, but if all the film industry left London, London will be London, London will be London. La is very distinctive that way. Yeah. So after shooting so many indie films over the years, what are some of the biggest mistakes you've seen filmmakers make?

Edwin Pagan 53:52
Oh my god,

Alex Ferrari 53:53
It's gonna be a long podcast.

Edwin Pagan 53:55
Short. I think preparation I think people take pre production for granted. I think that's I love pre production. I love sitting down with the people that I'm going to work with in the mud later on. And sort of toss out ideas I mean, you have the script, you have the director's vision. But there's so much that so much fun that can be had at that point. And I mean, fun. You know, I think people look at it as joy and they think they just want to get to the nitty gritty and that's the fun and you know, being on set and shooting is fun. But what but that pre production that time leading up to it where you get to, like see source material or, or look through color palettes or say, you know, these are the costumes. These are the things that we could do. How do we execute this shot? Well, let's look at things that have been done before. Let's try to come up with something that's an eight year film a signature shot that only will be seen in your film and a reason for it. And I always talk to directors about that when I'm shooting for them. I'm saying, Let's start thinking of a style or, or shots that you want to execute that you think might be hard to do, but that are innate To the storyline not just a gimmick that you know you can come up with nice shot, put it on a dolly and pull it off of a dolly and have the guy go in the rest of the way with a steady cam and like I

Alex Ferrari 55:09
Am Cuba style, right?

Edwin Pagan 55:10
Exactly. But But, you know, I'm talking about shots that are signature that, you know, if they weren't moving, they could be a poster. And pre production is amazing. I think a lot of emerging filmmakers and sometimes even more seasoned pros don't take the time to enjoy that process because I mean, it's so much there's so much creativity that can happen there. And and not just from you and I always tell directors, this that are emerging to when I'm on a panel or something is like, Listen, be open, don't worry about it. Because what happens is at the end of the day, any any any anything that happens on your film, that's magic, they're not going to say what's the cinematographer, they're not gonna say it was the writer, they're gonna say, Wow, what an amazing shot. So and so that who's the director, right, whether it's a man or a woman, and and so you know, that's that's a point when in the process where you can really sort of absorb a lot of information that you know, people are helping you to polish and and and, you know, and tactics that you can employ and even ways to make it better, because I think that, you know, there's the script and then there's things that the actors bring to it or other people that are talented that are part of the crew, whether it's above or below the line that can add something to it. So if you if you sort of like you know, if you lock your way, self away mentally in that it's only going to be your way or the highway, you're not going to be very effective as a director and I think those are the ones that we normally read about in the trades, where the battles happen and people are walking upset because it's like, you know, you know, unless you're on our tour where your your your vision is so razor sharp that unless it's done your way people are not going to know that it's your work. There's a difference, but you've earned that right?

Alex Ferrari 56:49
Right. James Cameron, James Cameron wasn't James Cameron when he did his very first movie. Exactly. You know, neither was Michael Mann,

Edwin Pagan 56:55
Even VMO Torro. So a short of his that was an early piece, which was okay. And that's probably as much as I can say it was okay. Right. But you know, now look at him now. He's amazing, right? And so we all start somewhere and I've done short films that Don't ever show. I don't know maybe it's like some in some Park. I become, you know, known and somebody wants to throw it on his look at back when Yeah, well, I'm developing. I'm not you know, it's not going to be seen. Of course, of course, you know, we all get there. We all have to do it.

Alex Ferrari 57:28
Yeah, I was actually just, I just did a post on indie film hustle about glim Tarantino's first film, yes, the the my best friend, my, my birth, my best friend's birthday. And when I found it, I I'd heard of it, but I never seen it before. So I thought I wanted to kind of bring it to everyone's attention. Because when you watch it, you you see the seeds of genius, right? Kind of like you can see the dialogue, you can hear him hear his voice there. I mean, it's not a good film. So it's very, very bad. But you can sense and see that and it's such a wonderful thing to go back to some a director like clementina, or any, you know, you know, Master of his craft, or her craft and go back to their early, even first work to really see what it looked like from that point to pulp fiction.

Edwin Pagan 58:21
Because I think we all have our own voice. I think you know that. The other mistake young, emerging filmmakers, yeah, make that it's like, you know, they get so caught up in wanting to

Alex Ferrari 58:31
Be the next kid. No, they'd be the next Guillermo. Right?

Edwin Pagan 58:34
Exactly. What's my style that you know that they get bogged down by trying to create style instead of just doing what they would do in any way, you know, there was nobody else around and then that becomes style, because style is really an imprint of who you are, and how you see things not something that gimmick you come up with, although that can be part of it. You know, I think it's you know, there's a reason why certain filmmakers will have a certain shot in the in the older films over and over, but they use it at the right time. You know, there's a language to it. And we, we realize it because we've seen it before, but we also that we had never seen it. It's not something that would jump out at us. It's it's integral to the storytelling.

Alex Ferrari 59:17
And that's one thing I always tell filmmakers to the they don't. A lot of people always want to be like, I want to be the next Quentin Tarantino I want to be the next kinomoto tour. I want to be the next Robert Rodriguez. I'm like, you're not gonna be that that's not that's not that shouldn't be your, your goal. Your goal should be the next Eddie book on the neck. Right? Alex Ferrari, you know that be you. And if you notice that all these guys are talking about they're all being themselves, none of them copied. And other than Tarantino who copies from everyone who's now made it an art of copying everybody filtering it through his filter,

Edwin Pagan 59:51
But he's uh, he's the he's like one of these ultimate cinephiles like in his work, he's just paying homage to everyone who has blown him away before right so in that sense, he as being him in the sense that correct the ultimate you know person that provides our images to other people that he admires

Alex Ferrari 1:00:07
In his voice though, but in his or in his voice and his taste and his tone and a lot of filmmakers always get caught up and I've seen so many filmmakers just like trying to be this or trying to be that movie or this is hot now so I'm gonna do this I'm like, you're not you're not gonna make it happen it's not happening. So can you give any advice to any budding cinematographers in the audience?

Edwin Pagan 1:00:30
Yeah, I think I think the one thing that's being lost these days with all this digital platform which is you know, it's it's a it's a blessing and a curse and and a curse. Because I think what's happening is people are forgetting the true nature of optics, learn learn your lenses, learn the language of cinematographer you know what what does a wide shot convey what is a shot, you know, shot through a longer lens a telephoto lens convey and and you know, instead of your films, there's, there's a way of using these lenses at the right time, and particularly when you're doing coverage, and what what look does it provide through to the to the palate, because not only are there different types of lenses, and different types of lenses give you a different aesthetic look, but various focal lengths just to provide a different things. So I'm gonna just a statement somewhere, exclamation point. And one of the things I see a lot happen these days is that you know, somebody who just rent the zoom lens, a wide tool, moderate telephoto, and instead of using various points of the lens instead of using primes but I mean if you're on a budget and you get a zoom lens, that's okay. But use the full scale of the lens at the proper time if you're going to do a close up or a very you know, sort of portrait shot go to the far end of the lens, you know, go a little bit more telephoto, and instead, what I see is they'll they'll still be on the short end of the lens on a 24. And instead of like going and zooming in and getting a shot with a particularly amount of depth of field is that they'll actually just get closest to the the actor or actress. And so now you have a 24 millimeter lens foot from the actress and they're looking like they award right instead of it being sort of a beauty shot or more something that brings focus just to what's in their subconscious, you know, and, you know, and but on the other hand with the fact that everybody is now using these DC DSLRs it's everybody wants to their shot to be blown out, you know, they have like a shallow depth of field. So every shot has a shallow depth of field. And so you know, it doesn't work, you have to learn the language, study films, study or study your craft, study your craft.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:48
Now, how would you approach selling and marketing an indie film? indie horror film today in today's world, like you've seen a lot of filmmakers trying to do it? What How would you approach it? or What advice would you give to an indie filmmaker trying to get noticed?

Edwin Pagan 1:03:03
Well, I mean, social media is one way obviously at this point, there's no no way around it. In fact, it's it's kind of flipped on its head now that that's what we're taught should be the thing. I mean, there's still some filmmakers out there that are so young, that that's all they've known. I know, I know, I don't know, they don't know, the old advertising, the old marketing, and magazines and TV commercials. So there's different ways of getting the word out there. I think we get stuck with this social media thing, which is, which is an advantage, but you still have to use the old the old world tactics of refining your message and getting that message out there. Social media is just one tool. Whereas marketing and advertising and publicity is is is is a craft just like filmmaking, and I think if you forego the craft of marketing and publicity, and you think that Facebook and Twitter and Instagram is going to do it for you know, that's just a message out. But if you don't tweak it and make it interesting, and get it before the right people, you're back to square one because everybody's doing it, you know what I mean? There's you don't have don't you don't have the fountain of youth at your disposal. You know, nobody, nobody stands out is beautiful. If everybody has the pill that makes them you know, beautiful, then it's like, what's his extension? You know, and so I think the thing that I would say to emerging filmmakers, is partly what you said in your, in your podcasts about connecting with people, and having the tact and tenacity to follow through, have the tact in the sense that I don't bombard people and be obnoxious, you know, find the right way to get yourself introduced, even if it takes three or four times because I think if you if somebody hears your name once, and it's in a very casual environment, and then they hear it in a newsletter, and then they hear it the next time you meet them, they say, Oh, yeah, yeah, I remember we met so but if you bombarding them you just become that obnoxious person. That is just occupying their time and just you know, I mean, who wants that? And then be prepared, be really prepared, that when you get that moment to shine in front of someone, that you're going to be able to answer all their questions right better than anyone they shouldn't be filling in the blanks for you, there's nothing worse than going into a session where you're, you know, you're pitching a project at any level. And it doesn't have to be only when you're in the big studios, it could be with anybody and someone with a small production company who's looking to do films can also be your stepping stone, you know, someone that has no as much budget as you do at this point, but the fact that you're going in and you You're the one that should know that project better than anyone, when when I, when I've seen I've gone into a room or been in a room when somebody is pitching a project, and they're stumbling, and I'm filling in the blanks for them, that's not good. You should be the one in that room that knows that project better than anyone. And also the part about passion. I think people seem to think that they have to turn it on when they're in front of people, you know, and they think that being that being passionate as being overly bubbly, is my passion. You know, passion is when you're homeless, and you're still making films, I went through that not a lot of people know that but I went through a period where I was homeless for about four months sleeping in my office. Because I had gone through a separation I was still making my films nobody had a clue and passion that didn't happen in the room when I went in and all sudden I started smiling my passion was that I wasn't going to give up my craft and that I had the tenacity to work on it every day even though I was I was trying to decide before between a cup of coffee and printing out a page in a script, that passion you know, that's I think people need to kind of reorient themselves in these terms that are floating around and I think what your podcast is is one of those places because you're giving them the real source you're giving them the real information that most panels aren't telling them

Alex Ferrari 1:06:45
I appreciate that I that's what I that's why I started indie film hustle man I really wanted to kind of get that out there and because I see you know both of us have been around the game long enough and we've seen so many filmmakers coming through our doors in one way shape or form that they just get eaten up by the system and just a little bit of information a little tweaks here and there can make such a huge difference to a filmmaker trying to make it and and now you know the goal of indie film hustle is also just to kind of build a career make a sustainable living doing what you you love to do and it's and it's also something I'm trying to do you know I'm you know I'm going to be shooting a film next year and in doing different things to try to sustain myself as as a filmmaker just doing what I love to do.

Edwin Pagan 1:07:33
And I think that's the distinction with this stuff that the way we do it and I've certainly seen it in your podcast is that we're not preaching from the platform of the podium we're like we're in this also you know where squirrels trying to get nuts as well. Were out there just like you are we're just giving you information on what's worked for us. Right and a lot of it is common sense it's just basically saying let's not go get caught up in these conventions of social media and how people have become so rude because they just want to cut to the chase that people at the end of the day is still people and you're still gonna rub people the wrong way if you take the wrong approach so step back settle in get prepared and then use the right approach at the right time you know it's no different than trying to pitch a horror movie to a station or network that all does comedies your research it's like back in the days when you see a proposal then you sent them out and you did your research and you pull their annual reports and you knew that this particular organization wasn't the right fit so you move on right so make make sure that your your pitches are mission mission match so that you're not wasting your time or someone else's right I think you'll you'll never get back at the door even when you have that comedy

Alex Ferrari 1:08:42
Right and that I think a lot of stuff is a lot of filmmakers today are using the shotgun approach which they just you know spray and scatter you know the you know the newsy just like the drone eventually they'll hit something and and that's usually gonna just piss people off you know and like you said even when you do have that comedy script because you never took the time to build that relationship up

Edwin Pagan 1:09:01
Yeah no no that's that's the worst thing you could do and and you know and we have the tools these days at our disposal oh my god if we would have had this back oh my god can you you know with the with the with the field being as limited as what they're still having these tools

Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Can you imagine what 80s Films would have been like in today's technology? like can you imagine what like Jim kata would have looked what what the can what the cannon boys would have done

Edwin Pagan 1:09:29
So it's a blessing and a curse at the same time it's just a matter of like navigating that so you get more of the blessings and less of the curse. You know you don't want to you don't want to be that cursed filmmaker. You know there's old term a friend of mines Derek Partridge uses all the time. He did. He's done quite a few films together with me that a miracle Spanish Harlem and a lot of others. And he says you know when you when you get the stank, you know you get the stank that just state you know, it's your reputation. You get that thing. And no matter where you go people can smell it. You know, it's just like part of you. And if you do it wrong for too long a period you end up getting the stank.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:08
It's tough. It's Yeah, I know. I know what you mean I've known filmmakers like that, that they get that stank that they screw people over or they're not doing it right or it and all of a sudden, like it's a small it's as big of a business as it is. It's extremely small. Exactly. It's extremely small. I mean, and you have no idea who that one person that you screwed over. King has a connection to I mean, look at our relationship we've known each other for 10 years. We know a lot of the same people, right? We don't run in the same circles but we do know a lot of the same people and if I would have screwed you over you would have screwed me over God knows how many jobs over the last 10 years that might have affected that's right you know, or, or connections or things like that and people especially the younger filmmakers, they don't think long game they only think instant and if they could just start thinking about the long game a little bit more I think more filmmakers will be more successful. So I have two more questions for you sir Sure. They're very very difficult questions so be careful

Edwin Pagan 1:11:13
What's happening for breakfast this morning

Alex Ferrari 1:11:15
Where do you see Latinhorror.com in five years?

Edwin Pagan 1:11:19
Actually that's not a very hard question because I'm definitely I've been working on a game plan for that Well one of the things where we're developing now is a platform called metal marketing I love that one yeah me other marketing which

Alex Ferrari 1:11:31
Which can you translate can you translate that for the audience

Edwin Pagan 1:11:33
Temor marketing Temor is fear in Spanish Okay, so we've kind of taken the the the Spanish convention and as part of the name and the English to finish it off, we have the marketing one of the things I like to do is make sure that people understand phrases that you know, from our culture and no different than you know, saying a schmear on a bagel you know, we make use of those kind of conventions as well and the temor marketing is a platform and you know, one of the things I get a lot from publicist is can you promote this film can you promote that film and that's fine when I was developing the thing but these people are working these people are sending me these press releases from the office from nine to five you know and getting paid so and I've been doing this long enough and covering the rent in other ways but also you know, getting advertising every once in a while and then it occurred to me that you know, why do we have to do this just as a as a as a trade off as a hobby or as a trade off because I get a lot of access to screenings and and and actors and directors that are doing these films, you know, kind of almost as a trade off for publicizing their films and I don't publicize the ones that I don't like if you're gonna see something in Latin horror is because we we were reviewing it because we liked the film to some degree we may not like all of it will say so. But if a film is really bad, it's just I'm not wasting my time reviewing a film that's bad. And so we created via the marketing which is going to be continuing to launch rollout which is a platform for us to do marketing for the sector that's trying to reach the Latino and that loves horror films. We have a really substantial database that we built over time that is not based on spam These are people that have said I want more of what you're offering or what you're talking about. So I think what happens to a lot of publicity companies is that at the point that they get a job that say that they're going to do a romantic film they have to then find the people that are probably geared to to you know, leaning toward that kind of genre and so they start looking out for the blogs etc that kind of feature that the same way they trip over Latin horos website when they're looking to promote horror films and so I figured you know there's time to cut out the middleman and generate that income for yourself instead of doing it for someone else at no cost or as a as a trader and so that's launching that's going to be a build that's almost like a sidearm marketing soldered on it's entirely for profit business there's going to be sort of you know headline horror as the as the engine powered by as sometimes I see on websites and you know and and and and the other thing is that we're going into production ourselves we've we've produced a handful of short horror films on the Latin horror label. And you know, there's a point where reaching out to different companies to see how we can partner up for them to find content and partner with people to produce films. Now, originally low budget features, but you know, we'll scale it up as we go for it. But the beautiful thing about Latin horror and horror as a whole is that it's one of the it's one of the genres that the return on investment is the greatest because a lot of the horror films are done for relatively small budgets. And as you see, week after week when these films the really good ones roll out is that the return on investment is astronomical in some sense. That's why people keep making them and hoping that they hit that pot of gold, you know, like apparent on my table activity shows and actually, you know, even paranormal activity, the produce That have kind of taken notice of the Latino audience because the last one they made was all Latino characters and it was based on Latino mythology. So you know they recognize the audience so that's that's one of the things that's out there those two things you know me other marketing and also you know Latin horror producing its own content in partnership with other entities.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:20
Very cool. Now the toughest question of the evening. What are your top favorite three horror films of all time?

Edwin Pagan 1:15:27
Oh, that's that's easy to without question the exorcise the thing. Okay. And the one that I saw the first time ever even though it's kind of a campy British made film is the tails of the crib, the original

Alex Ferrari 1:15:42
The original tails of the crib, not the one that from that was Cinemax they released the original

Edwin Pagan 1:15:46
Yeah, they've done a couple of verses Sure. And it's a it's a great film too you know it's a really interesting film but the original is something can be about it and I think just because it was the first horror film that ever swana theater that spooked me out it's it's always going to be on the in the Pantheon for me

Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
Very cool yeah the thing is like that that

Edwin Pagan 1:16:05
The original what actually I shouldn't say the original the second because it was done one in the 50 the black and white one

Alex Ferrari 1:16:11
Oh yeah, that's the first thing Yeah,

Edwin Pagan 1:16:12
That's right because it's different you know, even when they made the third one people were like, oh, how could they you know, like well he did it the carpenters thing was also a remake

Alex Ferrari 1:16:23
Right right But he did such a good job that people forgot about that

Edwin Pagan 1:16:28
It's an amazing

Alex Ferrari 1:16:28
And the funny thing is that they originally they thought it was you know they called it pornography and it was horrible and he was he couldn't even get arrested and and and now it's looked upon as like he's a genius you know and you know and I was just I actually just saw they live the other day

Edwin Pagan 1:16:46
Oh yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:47
What a great flick that was you know,

Edwin Pagan 1:16:49
I'm currently doing that here now you know revisiting all his canon of films as as an image but also as a as just orient orient orientation So

Alex Ferrari 1:16:59
Yeah, I haven't seen I haven't seen big trouble Little China since I was since I was a teenager so I actually found my list of it's on my it's on my queue to to watch now because I went through a little john Carpenter now after I saw the interview with him and um, Robert Rodriguez on the director's chair

Edwin Pagan 1:17:16
Yeah. Listen listen to us talking about these things this is like when you know that someone who loves film you know talking like little boys yeah oh yeah because this is we we live and breathe this and you know even if the the industry went away we'd still be locked up in our homes cracking open the DVDs until the point that the DVD player wouldn't work anymore

Alex Ferrari 1:17:37
Or or actually crack opening the Netflix queue or the Amazon because that's a whole other conversation that you know I've I've I've talked I've talked to some people in regards to the this generation will never understand video stores right they won't understand the the magic that was at a video store that you can go down the aisles finding a new stuff you know things that you would have never seen looking at a box grabbing it feeling it that amazing artwork you know we were the artwork promised you something that obviously was not going to happen. Oh, like like I worked in a video store when I was in high school so was it the my favorites were Slimer Slimer ROM the girls of Slimer ROM on the bolo Rama which already exists already babes in the slammer Rama bola Rama Thank you. Obviously Toxic Avenger, a New York a great Indian New York Film. Yeah by Lloyd

Edwin Pagan 1:18:36
And that one is tossed around a lot is being remade and and never gets really.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:41
Because actually I'm trying to get Lloyd on the show. I really want to get Lloyd on the show because I've met loads a few times at festivals and stuff and I think his story is such a unique thing about what he's done and how that's how the industry has treated him over the years you know, I mean he obviously makes his trauma con style movies it's his it's his stuff. And whether you love it or hate it and it all kind of started with a Toxic Avenger I remember watching Toxic Avenger and I'm like, What is that? It's but if you remember there was a moment in time where there was a Toxic Avenger TV show, like a cartoon show that was like lunchboxes and stuff. And Lloyd said that I won't point the studio stepped in and like killed it. Like they weren't gonna they didn't allow him to do it anymore that's what he says back in the day who knows if what's the truth or not but but he's a very interesting story of an endeavor he's as independent as you can get at this point in the game and it's fascinating but yeah, like going through the video stores and seeing that one those kind of

Edwin Pagan 1:19:44
Also that's that that's a great period in in the genre was like everybody was doing it you know, even though it was you know, it was hard to make these films you know, like you're talking about a lot of them we shot on film and all that. It's like people still rolling them out. You know, there's like People were being very clever and getting getting their films made

Alex Ferrari 1:20:04
But the thing is also back then literally all you had to do was make a film yeah and you would sell it because there was not enough product out there so even if it was a horrible piece of crap that you shot on 35 mil and put it out it was going to get sold you were going to make some sort of money with

Edwin Pagan 1:20:23
I gotta say whenever I go to the horror section of Netflix man it looks like that's still happening today well yeah now they need some content yeah throwing up everything up there

Alex Ferrari 1:20:32
It's it's it's it's bad it's bad but you know so anyway where can people find you?

Edwin Pagan 1:20:39
Well they can find me in two places they can go to Latinhorror.com which is the the page it's been applied about eight years now you know they can also find me you know as a photographer as a still photographer that's been shooting for like 40 years they can go to the pagan image calm and that's more just my work as a photographer are both in the South Bronx and since then kind of social documentary photography and journalist has a lot of articles up there that I've written as well

Alex Ferrari 1:21:07
But how is that possible if you're only 30 sir?

Edwin Pagan 1:21:14
I wish I was with the information that I have

Alex Ferrari 1:21:18
We could do some we could do some damage bro.

Edwin Pagan 1:21:20
We could do some damage body blows body but um definitely those two places you know and and emails are up there people really want to reach out and just talk and you know I do answer my emails. You know, it's ironic because people you know, you tell people yeah, they can reach out and they all say they will. And you know, the a lot of the people that have become friends over the years with me is people that really followed to and like you say, you know, they they sort of get an interest in you and you get an interest in them. So I'm always willing I'm always really willing to give information to young emerging young filmmakers you know, to the to the limits of my ability be him because I'm not the I'm not the kingmaker but you know, but the the idea still holds true that if you have a little bit information and you're willing to share it with people that haven't gone that route yet, you know, you're sort of passing it forward and I'm always willing to do that so if you know if anybody wants to reach out on either end whether it's about photography or cinematography, or just a horror genre, particularly the Latin horror genre or anybody that wants to talk 80s horror and that's fine give me a you know, give me a buzz send me an email. I'm willing to do that, you know, that's that's where I live. That's not you know, that's not a soundbite or a paragraph on the page. That's why I am so you know, where you started, I'm more than happy to, to kind of like you know, chill with you for a minute. Very cool.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:38
So everyone, definitely check out Latin horror, calm if you guys are horror fans. It's a great site. And it's an intelligence site, which is rare to find nowadays, when you when you talk about horror, it's very intelligently written and were very well put together and very well curated. So thank you so much for coming by and sharing some time with us in the indie film hustle tribe. I really appreciate it

Edwin Pagan 1:23:01
it's my pleasure to come aboard and I'm not saying this lightly when I think I think your podcast is gonna go far because it's definitely you know, you putting out some some information there that's that most people are not willing to give despite their you know, the secret of that every panel or every book or every article, you know, that's they're not secrets, they're just more the same package to sell. Your stuff is actually, you know, you're talking about what people are not talking about. And I think, you know, filmmakers in general should take advantage of that.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:30
Thank you very much. I appreciate that, man.

Edwin Pagan 1:23:33
Yeah, man. And like always, they will be sangra, my friend.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:39
I hope you guys had as much fun listening to that, as I did. Having that interview with Eddie. He's a trip and very knowledgeable about not only Latin horror, but horror in general. Don't forget guys head over to Latinhorror.com if you're into horror films. Eddie's got a great site. And it's, like I said, intelligently written, or critiques and information about not only good horror films, but the sub genre of Latin war, which is pretty awesome. So guys, don't forget to head over to filmfestivaltips.com that's FilmFestivaltips.com, so I can share with you my six secrets on getting into film festivals for cheap or free helped me get into over 500 Film Festivals all around the world, and hopefully can help you guys as well. So and if you guys are digging the show, and apparently by the download numbers, you guys are digging the show. Thank you so so much for all the all the love that I've been getting. For the show. I'm gonna keep trying to do as many of these shows as possible, sticking to my two, two episodes a week schedule. So if you really really love the show and want to help us out, please head over to iTunes. And leave us a honest review of the show. It helps us out dramatically on the rankings of iTunes. So thanks again guys so much for listening and have a scary Halloween a safe Halloween. And don't forget to keep on hustling. I'll talk to you guys soon.




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