SXSW 2012 Exclusive Interview: Director Paco Plaza Talks REC 3: Genesis, Working for the Fans and More - Dread Central
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SXSW 2012 Exclusive Interview: Director Paco Plaza Talks REC 3: Genesis, Working for the Fans and More



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As mentioned in an earlier news piece about [REC} 4, Dread Central has been on hand in Austin, Texas, for the 2012 SXSW Film Festival, and during our time we had the opportunity to chat with one of our favorite independent filmmakers working today: Paco Plaza.

In 2007 both he and fellow [REC] franchise co-creator Jaume Balagueró reinvigorated the found footage subgenre on a global level with the release of their low budget, high ambition first installment of the series, which followed a group of people trapped inside a building amidst a deadly viral outbreak that left them quarantined away from the outside world.

During our chat with Plaza, we spoke with the director about the latest entry in their franchise – [REC] 3: Genesis (review here) – as well as how the original film changed his and Balagueró’s lives, how important the fans are to the success of these films and more on the challenges and opportunities of leaving found footage filmmaking behind.

Check out the highlights from our exclusive interview with Plaza below, and look for more coverage coming soon from the SXSW Film Festival.

Dread Central: Since you decided to switch things up in terms of shooting style for Part Three, how important was it to you for Genesis to not make the same movie this time around?

Paco Plaza: Oh, very. It was always important to us to not make a film that fans had seen before with this one. As filmmakers, horror fans and fellow audience members, we wanted to do something new and unexpected and take this world to an entirely new level.

Only the first 15 minutes or so are found footage, and then we drop it and switch over to a more conventional, cinematic style of shooting. One thing that is very disturbing to me as a horror fan is that these days, when you go to a theater to see a movie, it’s very hard to be surprised anymore. You seldom find that anymore, and usually the expectations you have going in are met or sometimes they aren’t. We wanted to do the complete opposite of that and make a movie fans wouldn’t be expecting going into the theater.

DC: Were there certain films that influenced your style this time around?

Paco Plaza: The films that inspired me on this one- like Army of Darkness or Big Trouble in Little China- those were films that I remember seeing as a fan and went in not knowing what to expect, and they blew me away with their creativity and energy. It was like I ‘discovered’ them as I watched them and that’s really cool. And I’m so happy that the responses I’ve been getting so far have been just that- that people had no idea what this movie was going to be like and that I surprised them throughout.

DC: Considering horror fans can be fickle at times, were you at all nervous about changing the style for Genesis? Did it give you a lot more freedom as a storyteller?

Paco Plaza: You know, I think the way you shoot a film has to make sense. It has to be the best way to tell the story and portray these characters. For this occasion, as the film evolves into a horror love story with elements of comedy in there, the only way to tell this story was to go back and go the conventional shooting style way. In the most selfish way, I have spent five years now with handheld cameras, and I needed a tripod this time and wanted to be able to change the lenses (laughs). I didn’t want to do 20-minute takes anymore. I wanted this whole experience to be completely different for me and for fans.

Official Rec 3: Genesis

That being said, even though this film is different, it still takes place within the universe of the first two so we also wanted to make sure we respected those earlier stories, too. When we were shooting the first one, we had no idea there was even going to be a sequel, let alone three more movies. And once we established this universe, we had to establish rules, and those rules still apply even with the third and fourth movies. We do not break those rules ever. Once you do, there’s no going back, and to fans it’s almost like a betrayal. We’ve never wanted to milk the success of the first one just for the sake of making more movies.

DC: What I’ve always appreciated about your approach to these stories is that character development, no matter how minor or major the character, has seemed to be incredibly important. Since you guys changed things up for Genesis, did you have to change up the way you developed your characters for this movie then?

Paco Plaza: We have always taken establishing our characters very seriously. In the first part of the movie, we wanted to make sure we took some time to make sure audiences would be able connect with our characters and enjoy watching them on their journey. Pretty much once we switch over to the cinematic approach, we’ve already established these characters and made you fall in love with them so you want to keep watching them until the very end.

I think the tricky thing with horror films is that everything hangs on the characters. If you don’t know the characters you are watching, you won’t feel for them when they’re in jeopardy or when they’re trying to survive. Characters have always been important to us.

DC: Since Part Three is tonally different than its predecessors, how hard was it to balance all the horror, comedy and romance elements?

Paco Plaza: Making movies is just like cooking- you have to balance out everything and make sure none of the ingredients ever overwhelms the others. You have to find that subtle balance. I think as a filmmaker that’s the most difficult thing to achieve really, and it was especially hard with such a risky film as this. It was tricky- you have to be able to stretch out everything, almost like a rubber band, but never too much or you might break it then.

DC: It has to be an amazing feeling to have made the initial [REC] with Jaume with a very small budget, and now here you are, two sequels later and prepping for a third.

Paco Plaza: We were so lucky with the first film- it changed my life so much, and it has been an incredible journey for both of us since [REC] came out. Both of us have had so many doors opened because of that first film that I almost still don’t believe it. It’s really touching when you get calls from Japan or other countries and hear about fans loving your movie- you begin to realize that good filmmaking translates in any language. At the end of the day you make films to communicate with an audience, and achieving that on a global scale is something unbelievable to me- even after five years now. In my eyes, I work for the fans so I don’t want to disappoint them.

SXSW 2012 Exclusive Interview: Director Paco Plaza Talks [REC 3] Genesis, Working for the Fans and More

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Leprechaun Returns to Syfy Next Year; Warwick Davis Does Not



You can always tell when it’s St. Patrick’s Day by Syfy running a Leprechaun movie marathon. But this St. Paddy’s Day, Syfy surprised everyone with a teaser for a new Leprechaun sequel set to premiere on the network next March.

Leprechaun Returns appears to be taking a page from the forthcoming Halloween reboot by positioning itself as a direct sequel to the original film. Sorry, Lepre-fans… looks like those excursions to Las Vegas, outer space, and the hood never happened.

Twenty-five years after the Leprechaun terrorized a pre-“Friends” Jennifer Aniston and experienced his first defeat via a four-leaf clover down his gullet, the little fellow gets revived in modern times when a group of college girls unwittingly awaken him while tearing down a cabin to build their new sorority house.

The new installment in the Leprechaun series is written by Suzanne Keilly (“Ash vs Evil Dead”) and directed by Steven Kostanski (The Void). There’s an interesting combination.

Taylor Spreitler (“Kevin Can Wait”), Pepi Songhua (“Ash vs Evil Dead”) as Katie, and Sai Bennett (Lake Placid: The Legacy), along with Emily Reid, Oliver Llewellyn-Jenkins, and Ben McGregor, are among the potential new victims of silly limericks and supernatural slaughter. Mark Holton reprises his role as “Ozzie”, the goofball friend from the 1993 original who narrowly survived his first encounter with the Leprechaun. He might not be so lucky the second time around.

One bit of casting that may prove controversial to fans of the franchise is Warwick Davis, who will not be returning to the iconic horror role he played in six films (the less said about the misguided prequel Leprechaun: Origins the better). Replacing him as the pint-sized monstrous Irishman with a lethal taste for gold wil be Linden Porco.

Even though we won’t be seeing Leprechaun Returns until around St. Patrick’s Day of 2019, Syfy has already premiered a teaser with Porco’s first appearance as the Leprechaun, giving us a year’s advance warning of what’s to come. Check it out above, and then let us know what you think!


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SXSW 2018: Reviews, Interviews, and Wrap-Ups!



Dread Central was out en masse at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival, and we came back with some of the best damned coverage you could ever hope for. In case you missed any of it, we have a full index of coverage for you right here!

Big thanks to both Dark Sky Films and Shudder for their sponsorship of our media village content. Also big kudos to Jon Condit, Jonathan Barkan, Shaked Berenson, and Josh Millican for their tireless work.



Daily Wrap-Ups


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Prodigy Review – This Kid Is Killer



Starring Richard Neil, Savannah Liles

Written and directed by Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal

From the minds of Alex Haughey and Brian Vidal, Prodigy could have easily debuted as a stage play instead of an intimate sci-fi horror film delivered straight to your television. Told with a confident grasp, the story unfolds in only one location with two characters responsible for carrying the entire narrative. Good performances, sure-handed directing, and a solid script highlighting tense moments make the claustrophobic setting seem much bigger in scope. A little telekinesis thrown in to good effect and a creepy killer kid don’t hurt the momentum either.

Under constant surveillance at a remote black site, an aging psychologist named Fonda (Neil) is tasked with assessing a dangerous young girl called Ellie (Liles), who is highly intelligent and possesses supernatural powers. Fonda attempts to inject some humanity into Ellie, but she is cold and calculating and seems to be toying with him at times and the onlookers watching from behind the glass. The back-and-forth between both characters is competitive and often riveting, with Ellie slowly revealing her abilities to her wide-eyed new audience. Wrapped up in a familiar setup, the decision to study or dissect this meta kid is the central question of Prodigy; but the execution of a simple premise is what keeps the story afloat.

On a very small scale, Haughey and Vidal make the setting feel cinematic with crisp images and smart shot selections that help maintain the tension. There’s a strong backbone in place that allows both actors to bounce off of each other in a well-choreographed mental dance as the dangerous game they’re playing begins to unravel.

Several scenes where Elle demonstrates her powers are the standouts in Prodigy with chairs and tables flying and glass breaking to great effect. These sequences diffuse some of the tension for a moment, only to fully explode late in the film when Elle’s emotions unleash. It’s only then that there has been any kind of breakthrough that could possibly help to save her life.

That gets to the heart of the real question posed in Prodigy: Is an extraordinary life still worth saving if it threatens ordinary lives in the process? Also, does the fact that this potential weapon is housed inside the body and mind of a young, lonely girl make a difference to whether it should survive? These questions and how they’re answered make Prodigy a micro-budget standout in the indie horror genre well worth taking the time to rent this weekend if you’re not planning on attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade somewhere.

Prodigy is now available to on iTunes, Amazon, and other On Demand platforms.

  • Prodigy


The questions raised and how they’re answered make Prodigy a micro-budget standout in the indie horror genre well worth taking the time to rent this weekend if you’re not planning on attending a St. Patrick’s Day parade somewhere. 

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