Filmmaker, Writer and Director of the film, The Lonely Ones, David Quiroz, Jr. bears an enthusiasm and energy for his work in whatever medium he touches. From his pictures, to the tone of his writing, the passion Quiroz has for his art is clearly evident. After viewing and reviewing the film, I decided to interview David on what makes him tick, how the film came to life, and where things are going from here.
HV: Okay, so the softball question first; what was the inspiration behind writing The Lonely Ones?
DQ: I had just done an experimental film and decided to do a feature film next, and I wanted to make a good horror movie but I knew I wasn't going to have much of a budget. I didn't want to do just another slasher film so I started thinking about all of the scary stories I used to tell my cousins and stuff and I started creating another one! It's not a coincidence that one of the themes of the film is people telling stories to scare one another, realizing too late that the stories they tell are only a fraction of what really happened and stuff, because the stories of the Choking Doberman and the Metalhead Maniac are real stories I used to tell to freak out my friends and family when we were kids. The main creatures are inspired by Native American legends and the ghouls of north Africa, and their culture and personalities were inspired by everything from the old Sega game Night Trap to Clive Barker's novel Cabal and Kathryn Bigelow's film Near Dark.
The film leads with a setup that takes viewers down one expected path, yet the film cuts a hard right and soon it’s anything but what was expected. I’m obviously trying not to give away too much here, but what made you start off with an obvious slasher-flick sort of opening and then pull the bait-and-switch?
I'm a horror fan and I spend a lot of weekend nights renting low budget horror films with some friends over a few (many) beers, and most of these films follow a very standard plotline all the way up to the red herring and resolution. I wanted to do something different and give viewers a standard set-up to lull them into believing they're watching any other shot-on-video slasher film and then about halfway through hit them with a twist. One of the things with doing a plot twist, though, is you have to make it believable so that when someone watches the movie the 2nd time and they know the twist, they can see the clues set up along the way. I really didn't want to have one of those twist endings that contradicts the rest of the movie up to that point and pulls the viewer out of the story. Knowing what the twist(s) would be from the get-go, I wrote the entire script to reinforce these and make sure that they made sense. I have enough feedback now about the film to know that I did my job in that aspect.
Who are some of your favorite filmmakers, and do you feel they’ve helped you shape how you shoot and write?
My favorite filmmaker is Steven Soderbergh, who has yet to do a horror film but I'm keeping my fingers crossed! His visual style and his willingness to experiment with the medium has been a tremendous influence. There are quite a few shots in The Lonely Ones that can be identified as having his influence. In horror, I'm a big fan of William Malone, Don Coscarelli, and Alexandre Aja. William Malone is a great artist as well as a filmmaker and has a way of creating incredibly ominous atmospheres that I'd love to be able to emulate - I tried in one scene in The Lonely Ones. I don't think I pulled it off, but I'm really looking forward to his next feature! The Phantasm films played a big influence on me as a filmmaker and storyteller, and lately I've taken to studying the raw, gritty style of Aja's films.
The cast has some great performances, led by Heather Rae, and Jose Rosete. What was the casting process, and how much alteration of the characters was done once shooting started?
The casting was done in both Phoenix, Arizona and Los Angeles. We got most of the actors in Phoenix and we hired two of them from Los Angeles, so it was mostly a local cast since we shot in Arizona. I had worked with Ron Berg and Jose Rosete (Luc and Blake) before and I wrote their roles specifically for them. As far as alterations of characters after the casting was done, Mike De La Torre and Matt Robinson (Dante and Maul) were two guys that really brought a lot to their roles and I think that their enthusiasm for the project and how hard they worked on set really made their characters jump off the screen and the audience seems to appreciate them. Also the role of Vince, played by Jermaine McKinney, ended up a lot different than I originally thought it would since I wrote him to be a quite, sort of "gentle giant" kind of guy but when we cast Jermaine he brought a lot of energy and swagger to the character and a lot of his lines ended up being improvised. Otherwise the characters ended up pretty much how I wrote them.
Based on the letter that accompanied the screener’s copy, it sounds like there have been some bumpy roads with distribution. Care to talk about it or is that burning too big a bridge?
I don't know what to say, really. I mean, I'm thrilled to have been picked up for international distribution considering that it's only my second time behind the camera, but at the same time it's incredibly frustrating that the distributor (York Entertainment) has been doing absolutely nothing to push us. There are a lot of independent, shot-on-video horror movies with no-name stars getting released in every video store across the country and we're stuck on internet retailers and the only we have any press whatsoever is because I sent emails to all of the horror sites I check for my news! Hopefully my efforts get a few more people to see the movie because it deserves to be seen. I won't try to defend it as high-art or anything but it's better than a lot of stuff I've rented.
So The Lonely Ones is not your debut, since you also have Night of the Chihuahuas under your belt. Want to talk about that film?
Night of the Chihuahuas was actually a student film or sorts since I had never taken any film production classes. I quit trying to get production assistant jobs in L.A. and moved back to Arizona to try making a movie on my own. I read Lloyd Kaufman's Make Your Own Damn Movie! and watched the director's commentaries on all of my favorite movies and just went for it. Night of the Chihuahuas has its moments but it looks like somebody's first attempt at a movie and really has no place in distribution. It's not for sale since we didn't even get contracts signed from most of the people involved and that's a good thing as far as I'm concerned since like I said, the movie was an experiment and a lesson. I took everything I learned from that one and applied it The Lonely Ones, so now I want to take everything I learned from The Lonely Ones and apply it to the next project.
Back to The Lonely Ones, there were a few shots that required digital editing, but most of the action involves more traditional effects. How was the experience with the guts and blood everywhere? Was it a rented set or a built set, and how big a bitch was it to clean up?
I would have liked more blood and more guts, but the budget and the fast-paced shoot really prevented us from doing a lot of things that I would have liked. I don't like CGI and digital effects but the practical effects brought production to a halt every time because they took forever to set up. Luckily most of them came across pretty well but I would like to have a 2nd shot at most of them. Some of our practical effects we ended up having to spice up with digital effects. Our sound guys did a good job spicing these up, too. And since the set was a physical location that we were renting (for a LOT of money), we couldn't thrash it like I would have if it were my house or something we built ourselves. The clean-up wasn't so bad because as soon as I called "cut!" we had assistants on-hand with paper towels and cleaner because everyone was paranoid about staining the cabin.
The ending leaves viewers ready to see more, any talks of a sequel or is it way too early for that?
I would love to do a sequel but we're still trying to see what the market would be for one right now. When I wrote the script I wrote it as a potential franchise, and I hope you'd agree that there is still a lot left to learn about the creatures so hopefully I get to answer a few more questions with another movie. If we can get a comparable or bigger budget then there's one sequel in particular I want to do that would be a lot bigger and more audacious than this one, but I have a more intimate sequel ready if we have to go with a smaller budget. I guess right now we're just playing the "wait and see" game.
Any parting shots for the cast and crew, or the fans of the film?
Some of the cast and crew will work with me again on another project, and some of them I will never talk to again. I am equally indebted to each of them for their contributions to The Lonely Ones, though. I hope that we've made some fans out there and I thank each of them for their support of independent cinema and I hope that I can add another chapter or three to the story.
What’s next for David Quiroz, Jr.?
I put everything film-wise on hold until after my wedding next month and then I'm gonna start hitting investors hard to get funding on a project I have called Promise, which is a survival horror movie that would be a progression for me as a storyteller and I think that if I get the money I am trying to raise, then I can really show what I'm capable of as a director as well.
Thanks for taking the time with us here at Horrorview.com. Interested readers can hit www.thelonelyones.com for a trailer, the IMDB link, and the film’s link on MySpace.