We had the good fortune of connecting with Luis Quijano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Luis, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I think that, as a filmmaker, there’s risk in every project and story that I decide to take on. The biggest risk or worry is that the audience won’t connect with your stories or your characters, and that your voice or perspective on a theme or topic won’t be enough for the audience to be engaged or be moved by it.
Films, at the end of the day, are made so they can find an audience and hopefully present a new perspective or point of view to them. But the risk comes in a way that, if the story is not interesting to an audience or a community, the film won’t be successful. Until the film is released, there is no way of knowing what the film will be, as the audience and their reaction is what makes the film transform or become something meaningful and eternal. Taking risks is part of every single film, no matter how big or small it is, but I find that very interesting, challenging and motivating, as I have to discover a way to tell the story with my own specific voice, through compelling characters and moving and exciting turns, in the most honest and authentic way so everyone around the world can connect with it and hopefully the film can have a long life after its release.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Being born and raised in Mexico, and living there for 18 years before moving to the United States, I’ve always felt attracted to my country’s culture, traditions and history. Most of my projects so far have been within the horror genre, inspired by beliefs, folklore or laws of the country. I’d like to think of my work as explorations of fear, belief, and social norms in culturally driven horror stories led by Latin-American characters. Representation and diversity have improved over the years, and we have recently seen Latin-American characters that are more than a maid, a narco, a criminal, or a wife, but I’d like to portray myself and my community in ways that feel more natural, authentic and compelling, always through stories of what I fear the most and not specifically as someone or something we are known of. We can be whoever we want. From stories of catholic missionaries being haunted by a mythological beast in a rural town in Yucatan, to an ill and larvae-infected woman looking for an abortion in a country that doesn’t allow it, I want to challenge points of view through horror, fear and violence in moving and emotional ways.
I believe filmmaking depends strictly on collaboration. The more you trust in your collaborators, the more successful the project will be. That’s the best way to facilitate your way to success. I don’t think it’s an easy path, as there’s not one right way to do it, but as long as the collaboration is healthy and open, overcoming challenges will be easier. A good lesson I’ve learned through the years is to surround myself with people that know more than me, and people that push me to learn, grow and be better. Collaborators or partners that challenge your ways of thinking, working and creating are the best people to have around. Not being the smartest person in the room can only bring you more experience, lessons and motivation.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ve been living in Burbank since I moved to California in 2015 and I’m always surprised at the hidden gems of this city; from the Mystic Museum and the thrift stores in Magnolia Boulevard to the horseback trails that take you to Hollywood, I think there’s a lot to do in a city that’s famous for its film studios but with many local businesses and restaurants around. I’m also a big fan of The Broad Museum in Downtown LA and the Hollywood Bowl. Attending a concert of the LA Philharmonic at the Bowl, in a chilly night in front of the Hollywood Sign is as good as any concert you can attend.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my dearest friend and collaborator, Andrii Lantukh. We’ve worked together in various projects as directors, actors, producers, camera team or in the lighting department and he’s one person that I believe elevates every project we’ve done together with his attention to detail, creativity and kindness. He also challenges my creativity and motivates me to keep going and to further explore the themes and stories that I’m most interested to tell, and to believe in my voice as an artist, filmmaker, and human. I’d also like to shoutout my family and friends in Mexico for supporting me from far and always being in touch with me through the years away. My friends Gerardo, Fernando, Paulina, Male, Pat, Nid, Roxana, Edgar, Huayo, my sisters Sofia and Lucia, just to name a few, I’m forever grateful for having your love and support.
Lucía Quijano, Antonio Reinaldo, Gisela Prishker