VENTS caught up with writer-director Eli Vazquez to chat about his latest film project ‘Bodies Will Tumble And Fall’ premiering at this year’s Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF)
Welcome to Vents! Can you tell us about life before filmmaking, where did you spend your childhood?
I grew up in Northwest Indiana. Right outside of Chicago so we had more diversity than cornfields and seasoned food. I was the oldest of 10 so I spent my time fighting over hamburger helper while running downstairs to my room watching every quintessential indie movie of the 00’s. It was a wild time growing up in the hood while being an indie nerd kid, requesting Motorhead at the local quincenera.
If you weren’t a filmmaker what would your career be?
Dude… honestly, an astrophysicist. I sucked at science classes, but I am obsessed with space and time. Like, I study it on my own and would take every Astro class I could get my hands on. Neil Degrasse Tyson is my Harry Styles.
Tell us about your latest project, horror-comedy, ‘Bodies Will Tumble and Roll’.
This film is going to melt faces and I am so excited for it. It’s all thanks to the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival and Netflix making an Afro-Latino film fellowship and bringing me in as a fellow. They gave me money and some guidance but what I loved the most is that they let me just tell my story. I love telling fun plots with a deep message. I have 6 little sisters and aunts who were cheerleaders, so I wanted to tell a story where they got to see themselves be badasses in a classic America horror setting. It revolves around a lot of issues we have in the Latino community in terms of colorism, what generation you are and country superiority. All issues I dealt with personally that made me alienated from my community. I wanted to tell an empowering story of badass black and brown cheerleaders fighting back but with the message that we need to embrace our differences and come together as a community in order to get things done.
What was the atmosphere like on-set? Were there any challenges?
It was wild. It always is but I knew we were going in the right direction when it was the end of the day, we knocked out tons of shots, everyone wants to go to sleep yet we will be shooting a comedic scene and the crew all laughs. That’s how you know you have gold and working with people who love this stuff. That love is what kept us going and made this project what it needed to be.
How would you describe yourself as a director / filmmaker?
I am like an Applebee’s on the outside and a high class restaurant on the inside. I bring you in with fun plot that anyone in the world can enjoy but when you get in you realize the story is more sophisticated than planned and you walk out satisfied while gaining a deeper perspective and appreciation for life. I grew up in the Midwest, so I want to bring everyone together and have them leave with something more.
What filmmakers inspire you?
Michel Gondry, Taika Waititi, Jordan Peele, Ryan Coogler, Spike Jonze, Ava DuVernay. All these people have created work and came from places where I see myself. It gave me hope that I can tell stories outside the mold with heart and people will still receive it.
What’s next for you?
We have the feature in development for ‘Bodies Will Tumble And Roll’. The short is a proof of concept so we are really excited to have our world premiere at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival to show the world what it can be and get the feature made early next year.
How can people find out more about you?