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08 April 2010 @ 10:44 pm
FNB Innovator: Sebastian Gutierrez  
This week FilmNewsBriefs had the pleasure of speaking with Sebastian Gutierrez. We discuss his next film, "Elektra Luxx" and working in both Hollywood and as an independent filmmaker.

Source: Film News Briefs

FilmNewsBriefs: Since "Elektra Luxx" is the second installment in this trilogy, could you tell me where the initial idea came about?
Sebastian Gutierrez: The initial idea for "Women In Trouble" came from a 10-page scene I found lying around that never fit into a script I had worked on years before. It was a scene between two women getting ready in front of a mirror, getting ready to go out for a night on the town. It was very dialogue heavy and featured only 2 characters and I thought to myself, I could probably shoot this in one day and have a cool little 10-minute short. Once I started assembling a skeleton crew, I figured, hey, maybe I should write 9 more 10-page sequences and connect them all together and make a feature film. It was a pretty dumb idea but that's basically what we did. The two characters in that original scene are now Holly (Adrianne Palicki) and Bambi (Emmanuelle Chriqui) and they form an integral part of the whole story.

FNB: Did you write all three scripts before you embarked on filming "Women in Trouble"?
SG: No. About midway through shooting "Women" (so, like, day five), we all looked at each other and agreed we thought this was a worthwhile experiment and decided to do one of these a year, in between "real" jobs. I wrote "Elektra Luxx" while editing "Women." Literally, in the editing room.

FNB: What are some of the major differences in your writing process between large and small budget films?
SG: Not necessarily between all small and large budget films, but certainly between most films I've written and this trilogy, the difference is that here I'm trying to stick to ten minute segments revolving around two or three characters set mostly in one location at a time. So it's both a game and a nightmare.

FNB: How much changes from how you've imagined the script to what's on the screen? I'm especially curious since you're so close to the cast and crew.
SG: What actors do with what I've written and how they improve on it is my greatest joy as a director. For the most part, they make you look really good. I usually have a very specific idea of what I want but know where the bones are buried, in a manner of speaking, regarding questionable plot devices or not-quite-there moments, so when an actor finds a completely organic way of covering over that or coming up with an idea that will fix it, I always let them. With this trilogy, the tone walks a very fine line, so it requires the actors to flex their comic timing while keeping their emotions very real. Which women do on a daily basis, by the way, given the absurdities of the world. That's probably why the story is so female-centric.

FNB: Besides filming on HD, are there any other technologies you used to bring the budget down?
SG: Film at my house, friends houses, make the coffee myself, take on an alter ego to be the still photographer … you name it.

FNB: Has directing this series changed your approach when writing Hollywood stories?
SG: I'm sure it has. I'm much more aware of the luxuries of fast scenes and of both the waste and luxury of time.

FNB: Your film had a great buzz at SXSW. Are you using social media to capture fans?
SG: A couple of people involved with the film keep womeninecstasy.blogspot.com alive and I contribute/supervise as much as I can. That's been really fun because, for the few loyal followers keeping track, it's allowed me to inform them of Elektra's entire world of influences and icons, from fashion to other film characters, music, etc.

FNB: Do you think the GenArt audience will be different than the SXSW audience?
SG: I'm very curious about the GenArt audience and really have no idea what to expect, other than the fact that I'm a part time New Yorker and love the concept of seven movies/shorts over seven nights. It's so hard to watch more than seven films at festivals that usually have around 200, that this just seems like the way to do it. So far the GenArt team has been great, showering me with gifts and offering the cast tons of drugs, free swag (thousands of dollars [worth of] gift certificates to Agent Provocateur and Christian Louboutin shoes, etc) and male exotic dancers. Not sure if I'm allowed to talk about that, though. Some of the actresses' boyfriends and husbands are a little nervous about the exotic dancers.

FNB: Do you have release plans yet or perhaps you're thinking of self-releasing?
SG: I am currently in talks with a couple of distributors, so the release plan might be in place by the night of the screening. Should those fall through, I will definitely consider self-releasing. This whole project is 100% DIY/grass roots/labor of love.

FNB: Do you have any interest in directing studio films?
SG: Of course. I like all sorts of movies. For a while there I was sent to the horror movie ghetto ("Gothika," "The Eye," "Snakes") and forced to stay there for a while and so in a way the "Women In Trouble" trilogy is a radical way of breaking free of that, but I certainly like all types and sizes of movies.

FNB: Have you ever considered directing something you haven't written? (why/or why not?)
SG: Sure. I'm lucky in that I can write things for myself to direct, but I have no need to write everything.

FNB: Is there any story you're dying to write next?
SG: So many! A proper old school film noir, a modern day western, a musical …

FNB: Anything else you'd like to announce?
SG: I just finished shooting a movie I'm really excited about called "Girl Walks Into a Bar." It takes place over one night in 10 different bars in LA. It stars Carla Gugino, Rosario Dawson, Zach Quinto, Danny DeVito, Josh Hartnett, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Robert Forster and a bunch of other cool people. We shot it in 11 days with a Canon 7D camera and it will premiere online this summer.