Interview with Filmmaker Romén Rivero (NIGHT OWLS)

NIGHT OWLS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the October 2019 HORROR Feedback Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Romén Rivero: Since my childhood, I love monster movies, so the idea of ​​making a film of this subgenre was always in my mind.

First, I wrote a lowbudget feature screenplay, but in preproduction I realized that it would be very difficult to shoot with my budget, so I decided to shoot short as a proof of concept and get some recognition that will help me to archieve a bigger budget.

Also, I always wanted to talk about the topic of the lost innocense in a symbolic way, which is in both the feature script and the short film. As a director, for this short I was deeply inspired by the tone and armosphere of the film IT FOLLOWS (2014) that I consider an stylistic tribute to John Carpenter movies, one of my favorite directors. Also, I love the neo-noir aesthetic and wanted to make something with it, so this was the perfect story.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Much more than I thought. About 3 months to finish the feature script and 5 months for preproduction, shooting and editing the short.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Urban horror.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Definitely, the fact of shooting it without crew. I did all by my self: writting, production, casting, production design, storyboarding, directing, cinematography, camera work, sound, lighting, practical fx design, half of the make-up, digital fx and editing. Only music wasn´t mine. Sometimes during the shooting I was really overwhelmed, It was crazy.

Also shooting all the film in night exteriors with wind, cold and street traffic, almost without budget, was very very hard. I had to put a lot of creativity on this film in order to make it works, not only in an artistc way but in production tricks.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I love to see people talking about something that one day I saw only in my mind. It’s magical. The feedback in this particular case was awesome. They picked up all the subtext of the story and also the fact that it was part of a bigger universe from the feature screenplay. I wanted more coments and a longer video haha.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

If I had to talk about a specific trigger for this particular story, it was a little incident. One night, I was walking alone throug a deserted avenue of the city, returnig home. No traffic, no persons, all was very quiet, when suddendly a loud noise startled behind me, it was the sound of some skateboard wheels over the paviment. They were three skateboarding teenagers crossing the avenue and they were in complete silence and hooded, so they looked quite sinister. That scare and the image I saw, gived me the idea for the story.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

It’s hard to know. But probably it’s between Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick) and the french comedy Le Dîner de Cons (Francis Veber).

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I used other platforms, like Festhome and Click for Festivals from Spain, but FilmFreeway is the best platform for me. It’s free, it has almost every important festival in the world, works fine and the customer support is very good.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I don´t know, but in the last years and during the making of Night Owls, I listened a lot to Depeches Mode’s Never Let Me Down Again.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I think the next thing is my first feature film. I have finished the third draft of NIGHT OWLS feature (now called NIGHT BIRDS) and tranlated it to English. This screenplay has been recently chosen to be part of the Official Selection in the screenplay competition at the New York City Horror Film Festival 2019. I’m also working with an illustrator in my first comic book project, based on another of my scripts, a horror comedy located in Tokyo, Japan.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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