NATIVE IMMIGRATION, directed by Eric Romero played to rave reviews at the July 2016 Comedy Film Festival. It was an honor to sit down with him and chat about his career and short film.
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
Eric Romero: I’m an immigrant living in UK myself and it’s an universal topic. I’ve always felt very welcome in Scotland (which is an amazing place, it’s probably the Canada of Europe…) but you could see all that was going on on TV with more right wing parties growing in numbers and I thought it was a good moment to ridiculize all the concept of immigration. Because, after all, what makes somebody an immigrant? That sounds like a simple question, but if one thinks about it it’s a quite complex topic. I really wanted to make fun of cliches and try to show how silly they are through the characters in the show, people who suddenly discover that they are immigrants and, just because that, they feel like they have to become a different person. I also tried to go as over the top as I was able to go, because reality is so crazy that some things that look like mockumentaries… they are not. Look at Trump if you don’t believe me.
MT: From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
ER: It took me around a year to finish it because it was something that I was doing while at university, but it was not part of the actual course, so I had to find the time to do it on parallel.
MT: How would you describe your short film in two words!?
ER: Social Satire
MT: What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
ER: Probably the main obstacle was the budget, that was quite tight, so we had to do things like take advantage that the presenter was going to be in London for some reason to take a night bus (the cameraman and myself) to London, spent three hours there to film a few shots and come back the same day. All to make it look like we did have money.
However, we were also very lucky. A month after I asked my friend Stuart (also a filmmaker) to be the Scottish/Indian character of the film, he got offered a wee job in India. So I had to supplicate him to get some footage of him pretending to be in India like if it was his home. And as you can see on the final film, he did find a moment to do it, which made the film look more professional.
MT: What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
ER: It was great to see some audience reacting to the film, because so far the film has been screened in fourteen festivals and I haven’t been able to assist to any of them. I appreciate all the compliments to the film and I embrace all the critics as well, so I can keep improving as a director/writer.
MT: How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
ER: After the good experience of writing/directing my first mockumentary “The Arsehole Gene”, I really wanted to keep doing more comedy. I had some possible ideas, but the political situation of the world (and my condition of immigrant) helped me to decide to do a comedy about immigration.
MT: What film have you seen the most in your life?
ER: I think it’s probably “The Groundhog Day”, because my dad had that movie on tape and we used to watch it at least once a year.
MT: What is next for you? A new film?
ER: I just graduated from the BA Television I was doing and I’m finishing the post production of a short film called “Lethe”, a thriller very far from my usual comedic style (it was my graduation film). I’m also starting to write a new mockumentary, this time about disability. So I assume that’s the one that is going to get me in prison. Maybe.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video of NATIVE IMMIGRATION:
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.