Gothic horror short Baghead recently screened at Arrow Video Frightfest and we got the chance to quiz Director Alberto Corredo Marina all about it.
Tell us where the idea come from for Baghead?
Lorcan Reilly, the writer, was writing micro-budget short films for an amateur filmmaking group. In micro-budget, you need scripts that can be shot in one day, in one location, with a small cast and crew and very little money. So, that was Lorcan’s challenge. One room, two people are sitting at a table, write a story. He went through different scenarios until he settled on a story of a man visiting a medium who can channel the dead. The story snowballed from that concept into the creation of the witch.
What were stories or films that helped you shape the film?
There are so many… I grew up on a strict diet of thriller, horror, sci-fiction and fantasy films and books. In the 80’s there was a good bunch of directors like Brian de Palma, Cronenberg and Carpenter who had an impact on my understanding of horror films. I also loved Hammer movies, and you can see a bit of their influence in Baghead, although it is a bit more tongue-in-cheek. But if I have to single out someone as the biggest influence, it would be Guillermo del Toro. He is an incredible storyteller from whom I’ve learned a lot visually speaking. I rate Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone as masterpieces of the Fantasy-Horror genre.
What sets this film apart from your standard gothic ghost story?
I wanted to have the gothic looks but push the overall feeling more towards the magic realism, where fantasy elements slot into normal life seamlessly. A classic gothic horror normally takes itself too seriously, and, without giving away too much, I think that the humor and unexpected twist make the film stand apart from the typical ghost story.
Tell us about a typical day on set?
Grueling would be the best description, although I was lucky to have an incredible team to help make the movie happen. We all know that independent film-making is very demanding. Normally I would wake up at around 5 am to prepare the equipment, get a shower and have a quick coffee and then drive to the studio. Then I would have a briefing with John Wate (DoP) and Oliver Kester (AD) to discuss the next shots in the schedule. I would then talk to the Art Department and Makeup to get the set and actors ready, as we needed at least two and a half hours to get the witch’s makeup done. At times, more than a director, you have to fill the boots of a coordinator, making sure all departments know what is going on. Then we would shoot until 8 or 9 pm, pack the equipment and go home. There I would spend another couple of hour backing up rushes and looking at what we needed for the next day, so you end up having this 18 hrs work days that are not very good for your health. But all is forgotten when you say “It’s a wrap”.
What can you tell us about the character of Kevin?
I remember that when we pitched the story to Carter Pilcher from ShortsTV, he told us he loved the story but that he thought Kevin wasn’t a likable enough character to make the story successful. Lorcan and I disagreed with that and convinced him that people would “get” him and his motivations. Obviously, he is flawed in his actions, but I also think everyone can understand why. Grief is a very deep human emotion and it carries a lot of anger within itself. Kevin is in need of closure and he needs to get it one way or the other. It is also very fulfilling to manage to get such a complete character arc in so little time, with Kevin transforming himself profoundly during his experience. People also would leave thinking “What would I have done in his situation?”.
Are you a fan of horror films?
That would be an understatement. During my childhood, I was always that nerdy boy watching horror movies and reading books by Allan Poe, King and Clive Baker. I think that my mother being a night owl and loving films was a big influence, she was just too relaxed about my viewing choices from a very early age. I watched The Exorcist way too early for my age and ended up sleeping with my parents for a long time as a result. Also, being from Spain where we have a huge fan base an expertise in horror films played a big role.
What’s your next project on the horizon?
When I decided to shot Baghead I agreed with Lorcan to use it as a proof of concept for a feature movie as the characters were so original they were crying out to be expanded. We are finishing now the first draft of the story, where we have kept Baghead and the Gatekeeper as main characters. It is a supernatural thriller, a dark film noir so to say, with a murder mystery and a detective being taken into Baghead’s world. We are in talks with producers in the USA and the UK and everything looks very promising right now.
What has been the response to Baghead so far?
Overwhelming. People just love it and come after every screening to ask if we are going to make a movie out of it, as they find the concept so original. I didn’t know that a short film could have such an impact on your life. Since last December it has taken over my life, be it with promoting it, going to festivals, preparing marketing materials, masters and talking to investors and producers. As you say, we have been victims of our own success, in a good way of course. But it is a great feeling to see the audience response every time we screen it. The feedback has been incredible and it has open a lot of doors for the feature.