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South By Southwest 2014 Interview Ė EXISTS director Eduardo Sanchez

EXISTS - At SxSW 2014!
by Jason Whyte

ďYouíve never seen bigfoot like thisÖEVER.Ē Director Eduardo Sanchez on EXISTS which screens at this year's South By Southwest Film Festival.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?

We shot EXISTS near Austin and have had two other films in SXSW, so Iím a veteran.† Unfortunately, Iím in Vancouver shooting a TV show and wonít be able to attend any of my screenings. Not happy about that.

Your favorite barbecue/food in the city?

Franklinís, though I have rarely eaten it.† Itís very difficult to obtain, which is part of what makes it so good.† Favorite restaurant is UchiÖI just let them bring me whatever they want - itís always an adventure.

What do you love the most about showing movies in Austin and Austin in general?

Austin has an energy like no other place Iíve ever been.† The audience is enthusiastic but also critical enough to give you realistic feedback on your film.† So itís nerve-wrecking but also very rewarding when they dig your film!

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?

I was born in Cuba and immigrated to the US at the age of five. My father loved films and his enthusiasm seeped into my pores at an early age, but STAR WARS was what really made me a film addict.

I ended up at the University of Central Florida where I met the guys I would later make THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT with. After that unexpected explosion, I semi-retired for a few years to figure things out and then started making films again in 2005.† Iím doing some TV now and my new film is premiering at SXSW and I really couldnít be happier!

How did this whole project come together from your perspective?

Iíve wanted to make a Bigfoot movie ever since I saw the Patterson-Gimlin footage when I was a kid. It scared the CRAP out of me and still gives me chills, so it made me crave anything that was related to the big guy.

Many years later, after various failed attempts at larger-budget Bigfoot projects, during a late-night story meeting, EXISTS was born; a low-budget Bigfoot movie we could actually make.† Six months later, weíre testing the suit with Brian Steele in the parking lot of Spectral Motion, who designed and built the suit.† A dream come true!

What was the biggest challenge, or challenges, in making the film?

The biggest challenge was getting the creature to look right. I know I wanted a REAL creature, which meant having a guy in a suit. That guy ended up being Brian Steele, one of the best suit guys around. And once I saw him in the suit that Spectral Motion built, I knew we were half-way there and it looked amazing. It looked better than I ever thought it would. Then my cinematographer John Rutland and I we came up with a strategy of shooting the creature that optimized the reality and eliminated anything that looked like a man in a suit. And as well there was the editing. Andy Jenkins and Andrew Eckblad cut together the scenes featuring the creature; not showing too much but showing just enough to make it an exciting ride.† Iíve never seen Bigfoot look like this in a film.

If you had to pick a single favourite moment out of the entire production, what would it be?

I guess my favorite day was the first day we shot the creature. That was the moment we realized we had something cool.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee?

A lot of pacing! And fart jokes.

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

This was the first found footage feature Iíd shot since BLAIR WITCH, so we had a lot more options as far as what cameras and equipment we could use.† But we wanted to keep it real, or at least based on reality, so basically we were looking for the smallest cameras possible that delivered the best image. We used the GOPRO HERO 2, but in a limited way, mostly just for the stunts.† The image quality wasnít what we were looking for so we ended up doubling most GOPRO shots with the Canon 5D.† But used a variety of cameras, including the Sony F3, Sony HDR-CX560V, and Sony HDR-CX12.

(i]What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW?

Unfortunately, I'm shooting up in Vancouver and can't break away for any of the screenings but I'm looking forward to the SXSW audience seeing the film. EXISTS is a good fit for the festival and for the SXSW crowd so I'm excited to be premiering there.

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next? Anywhere you would like it to screen?

We're not sure if we're gonna do any more festivals. We've had invitations from some other festivals but hopefully we'll be moving into the distribution phase for the film pretty soon.

Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount theaters in Austin aside, if you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

The Chinese or the Cinerama Dome in LA. I can't choose. I love both those theaters.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?

I'm a pretty laid back guy so I probably wouldn't say anything. But our producer Mark Ordesky might do something bad. Very bad. He's an animal. Either that or I'd let Tim League handle it.

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

It's cliche but true; just stick with it. Filmmaking and the movie business can be tough. You just have to keep at it and keep producing work. Ultimately, you really have to be driven by a real passion to do this because, otherwise, there's just too many reasons and excuses to quit.

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?

You know, I'm not much of a festival goer. Almost every festival I've been to, I've had a film in and you simply don't have time to catch many movies. But a few years ago, our film SEVENTH MOON was in Fantastic Fest in 2008 and we saw LET THE RIGHT ONE IN which I loved.

This is one of the many films screening at the 2014 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 7-15. For more information on the filmís screening, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jasonrcwhyte

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originally posted: 03/10/14 01:06:04
last updated: 03/10/14 01:06:22
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