A few months ago, the name Victor Garcia had no recognition for me, most likely, not for anyone - unless they studied the Special Make-Up credits on movies like HELLBOY and DAGON. But that changed in a hurry when he became attached to RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL - Dark Castle's much-balleyhooed sequel to to their 1999 flick with the "choose your own adventure" angle. Quickly after that wrapped, he landed another big gig: the webisode series BLOOD TRAILS, which serves as a prequel to 30 DAYS OF NIGHT. Seems like you'll be hearing his name a lot in the next few weeks...
How did you get the directing job for BLOOD TRAILS?
J.R. Young from Ghost House told me about the project asking me if I was familiar with 30 Days of night… I said something like “of course!” After that I had a meeting with him, Ben Ketai and Steve Hein and we talked about the project, the graphic novels and I showed them a few clips of Return to house on Haunted Hill. After a few days they offered me the job. Everything happened really fast.
Was it necessary for you to see the film 30 DAYS OF NIGHT first?
I asked them to watch 30 Days of Night, basically because I didn’t want to depict the vampires in a different way than David Slade depicted them in his movie. For me was very important to keep the connection between the shorts and the feature.
Were you a fan of the original graphic novels?
I’ve been a fan of the graphic novel since it was first published. That was probably the fact that made me say yes to the project in the very first time. I remember reading it and thinking “wow, there’s a cool movie here”. A few weeks later, they announced the movie was in the works.
It seems like there's another vampire movie every month - How are the vampires in 30 DAYS OF NIGHT unique?
Well, the uniqueness of the vampires in 30 Days of Night is the uniqueness Steve Niles provided them with… in the world of those graphic novels, vampires are not sexy and cool but just feral creatures that see us, humans, as food.
Was Steve Niles involved with the production at all?
Steve had approval on everything as far as I know. He came only once to the set. He saw the shorts and told me he really liked them, which made me incredibly happy as I was just shooting events happening in a universe he created… and I didn’t want to screw that up.
What was Sam Raimi's input?
His input was especially noticeable the last weeks of postproduction. We addressed all of his notes and, needless to say, the changes improved the project a lot. He was far more involved in the project that what I thought at the beginning.
What are the differences/challenges of making a "web series," which is still somewhat uncharted territory, as a opposed to making a feature length film?
It’s not really that different. Obviously the time you spend in a project like this is shorter than the time you spend in a feature. But it’s pretty much the same. The most important thing is to be always conscious about the time and budget you’re dealing with. We only had 5 days to shoot Blood Trails… and that’s not a lot for such an intense script.
This is a very big autumn for you, with both BLOOD TRAILS and RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL coming out around the same time. Can you describe the feeling, to have it all happening at once? Is it the proverbial "dream come true?"
I still haven’t digested that I’ve been shooting a movie and now I’ve been shooting those webisodes… it’s insane! Two years ago I was about to “quit” as I had spent all my money after shooting my short film “El Ciclo” and flying back and forth to LA in order to have all those meetings and pitchings with no results… now, after a year, I’ve done a movie for Joel Silver and those shorts for Sam Raimi… yes, it’s the proverbial “dream come true”, no doubt about it… I’m very lucky.
Tell me about making the transition from Special Effects Artist to Director. Was it always a plan of yours to become a director? Which was an earlier passion?
First of all I wanted to be a comic book artist…. I spent five years studying in an academy here in Barcelona. After that I spent a little time studying Special Effects with the people that now are DDT and after that I went to the film school in Barcelona. I always wanted to direct, but my first chance to be in a professional shooting was working as an SFX artist, so I worked for a long time in different movies and commercials. One day I decided that was about time to shoot something and I decided to move forward with a little project I had written a long time ago. The short came out well enough to generate the interest of Will Lowery, from Underground Films, who is now my manager. This was three years ago. Now I think all my passions lead me here, as I can story board all my projects and design most of the SFX on them.
Who are your biggest influences? Are they primarily in the horror genre?
Well, I’m from the generation who grew up watching Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Those were probably the movies that really made me dream when I was a kid. Other than that, I’ve been always fascinated by genre movies. I was like 8 years old when I stepped into a theatre to watch movies like The Thing, An American Werewolf in London or (one of my favourites) Videodrome… so I’ve loved the genre since I was a child. The range of directors would be too big and eclectic (Cronenberg, Spielberg, Scorsese, Lynch,…). I guess everything you watch generates some kind of influence that you can use no matter the type of movie you’re making… Blood Trails belongs to the horror genre, but it also has a strong love story in it… so I think you need your “love genre” reference in order to make that believable.
You've worked with Guillermo del Toro and Stuart Gordon - two HUGE names in horror. What was it like working with them, and what did you learn from them?
Unfortunately, I’ve never been on set with Guillermo as I’ve been only in the workshop working on those projects while a small crew was going to the shooting… On the other hand, I was on set for Dagon, and I must admit that I was next to the monitor as much as I could. I loved being there and watching Stuart working. He is one of those directors who knows perfectly the limits of his budget and how to deal with that... this is not a common thing.
What's next for you? I see there's a project called SMOKE on your IMDB page...
Smoke is not really happening with me… as far as I know it’s not happening at all. That was my first attachment in LA like two years and a half ago… the project felled apart and don’t know about its status right now.
I’ve got a few projects on the books right now and I’m waiting for an official green light on one of them… hopefully next year will be busy, fingers crossed.
Finally, what is your "dream" project? If there's one thing you could make, what would it be?
I remember falling in love with movies because of its power to take you away and make you dream. I’d love to make a movie which was a homage to all those feelings… to make people dream and love the movies… I guess my generation was a little more naïve than the new generation, but I’m sure there’s a way to achieve that.
A very special thanks to Victor for his time. (For more regarding 30 DAYS OF NIGHT check out my interview with creator Steve Niles HERE!) Hopefully this isn't the last of our talks, as I hope to discuss RETURN TO HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL with him quite soon.
And don't forget: BLOOD TRAILS premieres SEPTEMBER 13th, only on FEARnet!