• Rock! Shock! Pop! Interviews Director Paco Plaza

    Filmmaker Pazo Plaza has made a pretty serious name for himself in his native Spain and the success of the [REC] films have brought him to attention on the international and horror film circuits as well. With the release of [REC] Genesis now under way, Mr. Plaza was kind enough to take time out of his schedule to conduct an email interview with Rock! Shock! Pop! editor Ian Jane. So without further ado...

    IJ: Let’s start with a bit of background information. How did you get your start in the film industry?

    PP: I started shooting short films in high school, kept on with that until producer Joan Ginard watched my short ABUELITOS and contacted me to begin working on a feature film that was SECOND NAME.

    IJ: Most of your films have been horror movies – have you always been a horror fan? What directors would you say influenced you the most?

    PP: Since I was a little child I loved horror films; all the classic, Hammer, Universal…and talking about directors, Ibáñez Serrador, Carpenter, Alex de la Iglesia…

    IJ: Your first feature was Second Name (El Segundo Nombre) which was released in 2002 and which was a pretty impressive debut. Looking back on this, what challenges arose? How was this different to work on than the shorts and documentaries you’d made earlier?

    PP: I was so young!! Everything was a challenge and new; back then I thought it was more or less the same, telling a story with a camera and actors in front of it. And I think today that what you have to keep when you shoot a long feature is that passion, this will to tell your story and some of the naivety; I try to keep intact my love and enthusiasm for filmmaking, preserving it from all the business and the buzz around it.

    IJ: What was it like working with author Ramsey Campbell on this film? How much of what we see in the movie is his vision versus your own vision?

    PP: Ramsey was great, very supportive and generous: he gave us the book and wanted us to do our own reading. I’m very happy he liked it; he is a great guy and an excellent writer.

    IJ: From there, you made Romasanta: The Werewolf Hunt with Julian Sands for Brian Yuzna’s Fantastic Factory. What was it like working with Yuzna and his team? How do you feel about the film and working with the Fantastic Factory?

    PP: When FF appeared for me it was a dream; shooting genre films in my homeland!!! It was great, I think it was a very important era in Spanish modern film industry, the vision of producer Julio Fernández and he deserves a great credit for it.

    IJ: What was Julian Sands like to work with on this film?

    PP: Julian was excellent to work with. A great actor of impressive presence and a terrific guy. Very helpful with me and with the rest of the crew. I’d love to work with him again soon.

    IJ: You contributed ‘The Christmas Tale’ to the Six Films To Keep You Awake series. This film involves a group of children and their interactions with a criminal – why the decision to make the movie about kids?

    PP: It was the dark reverse of Goonies; a film with kids that behave like real kids. It is my favourite among the films I have done. I just love it. I would love to be part of a TV show again.

    IJ: It’s a very effective and well-made film. How did you get involved with the Six Films series?

    PP: It was an idea Jaume and I had. We really wanted to work with Ibáñez Serrador, the great master of Spanish entertainment, something like our local Hitchcock.

    IJ: From there you made what is probably your best known film, [REC], which you made with Juame Balaguero. The film deals with the inhabitants of a quarantined building and the infection that runs rampant. Where did the idea for this movie come from?

    PP: When it started we were two friends who loved horror films and decided to grab a handycam and shoot one; with very little money, without financial risks and with the only goal of having fun in the process. We didn’t know even if it was going to be released. We wanted to tell a classic horror story using the tools and the narrative of a reality show.

    IJ: Why the decision to shoot this using the ‘found footage’ style? Was this to keep costs down or was the movie always intended to be made this way? Do you think that this technique is being overused these days?

    PP: It’s a mix of the two. It is cheaper, of course, and at the same time it was the proper way to tell this particular film. And I don’t think it is over; for instance, I’ve seen Paranormal 3 and simply LOVED it. If the film requires this kind of storytelling, go for it. We have seen in this last years good and bad samples, but in the same proportion of films told any other way.

    IJ: [REC] 2 followed two years later and picks up where the first movie left off. It’s every bit as effective as the first movie. Was there always the intention to make a sequel to the first movie or was this made simply because the first movie was such a success?

    PP: When people began to ask “is it going to be a sequel?” we had never thought about it. But we had had so much fun in the journey that the answer was “Why not?”.

    IJ: How do you feel about the American remake of [REC], Quarantine, and its sequel? Did you have any input into these movies?

    PP: No, I only have credit as creator of the original, but we were not involved creatively in that film at all. QUARANTINE helped to make REC extremely popular overseas, and put our film under a new light. Being remade gave REC something close to cult status, so I’m very grateful to the producers that decided to do it.

    IJ: [REC] Genesis is now finished and being released in various territories around the world. How does this third film differ from the first two?

    PP: We didn’t want to go the same path we already had. If one thing is particular about the REC films is that we always tried to surprise the audience, to deliver something different from their expectations. I think these days we seldom feel surprised in a theatre; more and more as a filmgoer I have the feeling that I go to the theatre to check the film is exactly as I imagined from the amount of information I had before.

    We wanted to give something fresh, surprising and unexpected; and using this mix of POV and conventional cinematography was a part of that surprise; a REC film that doesn´t look like it.

    IJ: Are there plans for a fourth film in the series?

    PP: Yes. But I don’t have a lot of information. More or less what I have read in the web.

    IJ: A lot of what makes the [REC] films work is the tension and the atmosphere – you really don’t know what is going to happen next. Jump scares, however, also play a part in the movies – it can take you by surprise when something jumps out of the dark at you. How important do you feel it is to set the right atmosphere in movies like the [REC] films and how do you go about doing that?

    PP: Atmosphere is one of the most important things in horror. Is like when you tell a ghost story in a rainy afternoon, lit by candles. It doesn’t work the same if you are at the beach at noon. Or does it? Maybe you just gave me an idea, thanks!

    IJ: How do you think audiences receive and react to horror films like the [REC] movies in Europe as opposed to the United States and Canada?

    PP: I have no idea. I haven’t noticed anything different. Maybe in the humour there are some cultural gaps, but with horror it works all the same. At least in my experience.

    IJ: The IMDB say that you’re reportedly at work on your next film, Paris I’ll Kill You. What can you tell us about this project?

    PP: I won’t be a part of that film due to schedule overlaps. It’s a pity!

    IJ: Are there plans to branch out from the horror genre any time soon? What else have you got in the works? Anything else you’d like to add?

    PP: I don’t know yet what is next. We’ll see. But I guess it will be another horror film. It was a pleasure answering!

    [REC] fans will be happy to learn that [REC] Genesis will be released by eOne on DVD and Blu-ray September 3, 2012. We here at Rock! Shock! Pop! would like to sincerely thank Paco Plaza for taking time out of his schedule to answer our questions, to thank Sarah Wharton at Fetch Publicity for coordinating the interview in the first place and to thank Alison Jane for the swanky banner art.

    Check out the trailers below for more [REC] related goodness!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Alison Jane's Avatar
      Alison Jane -
      Looking forward to seeing the third film!
    1. Randy G's Avatar
      Randy G -
      Cool interview, I liked the first two films quite a bit, will be checking this one out as well.