‘American Carnage’ interview with filmmaker and Co-Writers Julio and Diego Hallivas

A couple weeks ago I got the chance to speak with the cast and filmmakers of American Carnage which is currently out on Videos On Demand, here you can read my interview with the talented director and Co-Writers Julio Hallivas and Diego Hallivas.

AJ Friar: So how you, how did you two come up with the concept of American Carnage?

Julio & Diego: It was definitely a reaction to all the stuff we kept seeing in the news when he comes to the separation of families and how, you know, politics likes to use, Latinos as a tool to manipulate and seeing both parties doing it. So we felt like, you know, what’s gonna happen in 10 years from now, when we look back and say, what did we do? What did we say? And, you know, using our skills as a filmmakers to say something about it. Yeah. We wanted to do something that it, you know, was gonna have a social message, but it wasn’t gonna be too preachy about it. We also wanted to, you know, have a little bit of fun, you know, with the horror comedy. And I think it’s easier to digest certain subjects, you know, especially to the younger generation, you know, like myself. Sometimes it’s tough for me to watch documentaries and stuff like that. Cause they’re too heavy sometimes, you know? And I think when you tell messages like this, you know, it kind of dilutes a little bit and it’s easy to digest.

AJ: Yeah. Last week I had a conversation, with Bella had, we talked about the allegories that you guys had in here about today’s social commentary. And that’s one of the things that got her excited about reading the script and you brought it up before, there was moments where I found myself laughing at some of the dialogue in here. It seemed like it had that script, you know, that really dark, comedic tune in this sometimes too. So that was that balance, right?

Julio and Diego: Uh, well, it’s definitely a top balance. Like you said, cuz you don’t want the comedy to undermine the horror. But you also wanna have fun when you’re watching this. So there’s a lot of trial and error. And then on mostly I’d say on the editing, you know in postproduction that’s when you’re able to kind of fine tune, and actually at some points we saw that it was too much comedy and so we had to dial it back down. So it’s a fine tuned kind of session that you have to go through at some point.

AJ: And the casting is incredible in this. How did that come about? Because once you land somebody like Jena Ortega right now is on the cusp of becoming an A-List movie star, and then you got on these supporting actors like Allen and Bella, that happens to be an amazing piece to the puzzle that you guys had there.

Julio and Diego: Yeah, we definitely got very lucky. From the beginning we said we wanted to make, an ensemble, piece where we showed as much diversity within the Latina community. So we wanted to have, you know, as many different characters as possible with very different personalities and we got lucky in the sense that they all responded very well to the material. And when they came on board to the project, they all brought their own little personality, to the character. And then that really helped us have a very well and layered cast.

AJ: And Allen was telling me, you guys filmed this in Spain. So did you guys get to experience a little bit of Spain while you were filming there as well?

Julio and Diego: Oh, absolutely. Yes. I mean, we were able to experience Spain a little bit, but uh, we definitely spent a lot more time working on the film, you know, and on location, but yeah, I mean, it was a great experience. We were able to do a lot more, you know, bang for our buck out there and, the creative team was great. The crew was great. And I think the cast had a blast, you know, being, spending some time in Spain. So yeah, it was awesome.

AJ: And having Monica doing the production design on this, I mean, she did a fantastic job that had to be so breathtaking to see her work on American Carnage as well. Right?

Julio and Diego: Yes. She’s super talented. And we got along with her very quickly right away, she understood what we were going for. And, you tried to surround yourself with people that are very talented and, and Monica’s extremely talented and we were very happy to have her onboarded. Yeah. You know, hopefully we can work with her again in the future. She did a lot of magic with the budget that we have. So yeah, she did great.

AJ: And you know, American Carnage is getting ready to come out. So what are some of your feelings about people being able to watch this finally?

Julio and Diego: I mean, we’re excited, you know, no matter what you think about immigration you’re take on immigration or what, what your stance is I mean, I think this is a movie that has a message, for everyone to think a little bit. I think the main message here is like, I think we could be better as humans to treat everyone a little bit better, no matter where you are, where you’re from or where you are. And, we’re excited for everyone to watch it. You know, I think it’s a cool movie and we put all our hearts into this movie, so hopefully everyone will get to watch it. Yeah. And as a filmmaker, you know, it, it feels good to like finally finish a project and then just share it with the world and, and then talk about it and, you know, have conversations like this one.

AJ: And what were some of your favorite moments filming with the cast on here?

Julio and Diego: I would say definitely the moments where, there was like improvisation and they, you know, they naturally elevated the material because those are things you cannot plan, that they just kind of just sort of happened. And, when you’re on set and you see that magic and you see that little moment, and then you’re like, oh great. I got something that I wasn’t expecting. And now it’s like there, so now I have it. Yeah. I mean, for example, like when we we’re doing like those interviews with the, with the cast where they first got detained, I think that, that was an amazing moment. I think there was a lot of improv there and we were all having a blast. Another moment that we also love is- working with all the horror with the, the horror moments. Like, for example, working with Troy he’s the actor that like the contortionist. I mean, I think that was, that was a really cool, cool thing to do. Cause most of it is, is, I mean, there’s very little VFX. I mean, that guy’s actually able to do a lot of those movements and, and crack his arms like that. So, I mean, that was really cool.

AJ: And so what’s next for you guys?

Julio and Diego: Well, now we’re having a lot of conversations right now with, you know, different about different projects. Hopefully the next thing is gonna be something we’re gonna announce pretty soon and it’s gonna be a longer format in, you know, in the form of a streamer. So we’re very excited to make the announcement very soon. Yeah. We’re working a little bit more on TV this time. So we’re excited about that. You know, spend a little bit more time with characters a little more time in the whole aspect of this and let’s see what happens.

AJ: And one more final question for you too. What were some of the inspirations towards your filmmaking and writing throughout your career?

Julio and Diego: I’ve always been inspired by that as well as by someone like Jordan Peele who’s able to do a lot of, uh, social commentary with his horror as well. Yeah. Definitely. Jordan Peele is a big influence, but I mean, we have, you know, our favorite directors and then it’s tough to say, who’s your favorite one? Because I think every movie that I watch, I learned something and there’s influence, you know, from like guy riches to Steven Spielberg, to Wes Anderson. I feel like there’s always something great to learn in all these different, um, directors and

AJ: I’m so glad you brought up. Wes Anderson as well.

Julio and Diego: Yeah, exactly. Oh yeah.

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