To kick off Women in Horror Month, Shannon spoke with the multi-talented director, actress, writer, producer, and teacher, Gigi Saul Guerrero. Between co-founding Luchagore Productions, directing terrifying shorts, and co-writing a new game for CAPCOM, Gigi has proven she is quite the force to be reckoned with!
Nightmarish Conjurings: Hi Gigi, thank you so much for speaking to us today! To start things off, what does being a woman in horror mean to you?
Gigi Saul Guerrero: When I hear the words “Women in Horror”, to me it means many things! From chicks who love gore/blood, to chicks who aren’t afraid to be different.
Nightmarish Conjurings: You’ve accomplished so much, whether it be directing, co-founding Luchagore Productions, teaching at the Vancouver Film School or being a writer for Capcom! How do you fit everything in and how do you make time to pursue all your passions?
GSG: Easy answer – I don’t sleep, literally! (laughs). I think that’s also why I get sick often, I just don’t rest enough. But staying creative and active on a project really helps me continue to stay passionate and to never stop chasing my dreams. I graduated film school about 3.5 years ago and since then I haven’t stopped pushing for these dreams to become a reality. I still keep my part time minimum wage jobs (believe it or not) because I love distracting myself with something that is not film related but a small portion of the day. Whether it’s being a skating instructor for kids, taking pictures at SantaLand or being a supervisor at Playland’s Haunted House Attraction, I still do those small jobs today! I’ve managed to really be diligent in planning my days, you should see my calendar, whether its direction, acting, or writing, I still make sure I have the time for family. They are the reason I am here today and I am who I am because of them. That’s the most important for me to continue to keep.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Horror means so much to so many people, what was it about this genre that drew you in and did you always know you wanted to be involved in filmmaking?
GSG: (laughs) I actually wanted to make terrible, terrible comedies when I first started film school, I’m serious! I loved making people laugh and just being plain old dumb. My entire high school year I did theatre and musical theatre so comedy was my favorite at the time, yet I always had an interest and curiosity for horror, suspense, and thrillers. I always enjoyed the feeling of being scared. My favorite was always walking down the horror aisle at Blockbuster just looking at all the scary VHS covers. Since I was never allowed to watch horror films, or anything violent growing up, my curiosity grew more and more. So really, it’s my mom’s fault (laughs)!
When I turned around 9 years old or so, THE EXORCIST was re-released in theaters and I begged my mom to take me to see my first horror film and she did to prove to me I would be traumatized, and she was right! BUT!! THAT FEELING of being scared was amaaaaazing, I couldn’t understand why I loved feeling that way. In my early influences, there was always something about visual storytelling that caught my attention since childhood. I had an obsession with classical animated Disney films when I was a kid; all I would do was sit there and press forward and rewind to find continuity mistakes. That doesn’t sound fun at all but it was my most favorite thing to do, and boy did I find mistakes in films like BAMBI (1942). I never considered becoming a storyteller myself, I just really enjoyed immersing myself in films growing up. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old when CHILDREN OF MEN (2006) changed my life! Literally, I walked out of the theatre saying out loud, “I want to be a filmmaker, I want to tell stories like that!” From that moment on my maturity for films grew! I started watching everything Cuaron, Iñarritu, and Del Toro had made. Then slowly moved on to Robert Rodriguez and Tarantino’s early work. My mind was set on what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Nightmarish Conjurings: What have been some struggles you have faced within the industry and what advice would you give women who want to break into filmmaking?
GSG: I’m not going to lie when I say it’s been tough. It’s not easy, at all. I don’t work this hard for no reason. Sure, you can say being a female in the industry is difficult, but in reality this business/field I chose is already extremely competitive. The best advice I can give that has worked incredible for me is to not be afraid of failure. Keep going. Also, as a female in the industry, I never look at my type of sex as a disadvantage. I see it as just another obstacle I have to overcome, just like all artists will face obstacles, mine just happens to be that! It’s not enough to make me think negative, it’s simply enough to tell myself to work harder and prove myself for what I can do.
Nightmarish Conjurings: Even though you wear many different hats, is their one medium that you consider to be your favorite?
GSG: Oh man, I have to admit I love love love acting. I enjoy it so much, there’s just something about bringing your body and mind into another human or creature. I love just being able to immerse myself into somebody else. But if I had to choose… it would be directing. I love the collaboration and seeing my vision come to life. From the moment you have a tiny spark in your head, to shooting, to editing, to screening your work in front of an audience after all that suffering of making something is a journey in and of itself. It’s freaking AMAZING!
Nightmarish Conjurings: Women in Horror Month has grown a lot since its inception but with everything there still needs to be a lot of change. What would you like to see changed in the future?
GSG: I do wish it could become not just a monthly thing and that people realized we are out there. Women in Horror needs to become an everyday recognition and a name we use for ladies who aren’t afraid to bring terror to the screens!
Nightmarish Conjurings: What projects are you work on that we should be keeping our eyes out for?
GSG: OH MAN!! Well, for me personally, teaching Directing at the Vancouver Film School has been an awesome experience that I love. Also, stay tuned for the CAPCOM game I co-wrote and will be acting in MUAHAHAHAH! As for Luchagore we have some incredible things coming up. First one is our most anticipated show, “La Quinceañera” that we created and I directed with Warner Brothers TV and Stage13 Network which will be released VERY VERY SOON this year! Also Luchagore is getting closer and closer to a feature, #NoMoreShorts for us! We have over 16 of them, so let’s go bigger!