Ripping Guts with Jose Sanchez by Robert Longoria Our special guest is Jose Sanchez, director of Project-X, a film following a South Texas border town under attack by creatures hungry for human flesh. Could you tell us a little bit about pre-production…how did you end up picturing how this zombie apocalypse spread? Actually, it was Halloween night, ’07, thinking, I could do something, a book, a film, something…I called my girlfriend at the time, she’s now my wife, what do you think? Should I do something? Yeah…a movie sounds good…go make a zombie movie. We took it from there and slowly but surely we started getting ideas…plot, props, locations…it all came together and we formed our script. What did you visualize that would make this different that had come before it, what motivated you to do this? First of all, I just wanted to put my name out there…Not be your average twentysomething year old guy that just said something, I wanted to make something, there was an extra push. The story is a little different, it has a little bit more Latino influence in it…My co-writer, Jaime Beltran, he’s the one who put that stuff in the script. I find it more a comedy than a horror and it’s a little piece of film, you know? It’s a little indie film, it’s not the best horror movie, it’s not the best zombie movie, not by a long-shot… with what we had, the resources, it is what it is.
There seemed to be this “grindhouse” feel to the trailer to the movie. I remember when I was a little kid, coming home late at night, turning on the TV and seeing these crazy movies. Since the beginning I knew that I wanted to incorporate that into it, and with that came the Fbombs, the violence, the jokes, all the situations the grindhouse brought to the story. Could you tell us a little bit of the making-of? It’s been this ongoing process; you started the story in 2007, filming in 2009, and finally releasing it in 2010. Visual effects, most of them are pre-composed…taken from the internet, some of them cost a lot of money. And it’s just a matter of finding the effect, seeing how you want to use it, putting it into the footage without it looking out of place or fake, so I spent a lot of time learning how to use AfterEffects, finding the perfect effect. In fact, some of the effects, changed the story a little because we already used that effect, it was just a matter of time, spending time reading books, online, researching…
Could you go into some of the details of the Makeup FX component of the film? How much time went into the practical effects of the film? We had about four different makeup artists during the shoot, each of them had their own style. Some zombies, some would take up to fifteen minutes, some up to two hours. It was just a bunch of latex, fake blood, eyeballs, stuff that you could buy at any costume shop. I really didn’t mess with that because it’s not my stuff, I gave my make-up artists a lot of freedom to do whatever they saw fit. They did a really wonderful job. You mentioned beforehand that Evil Dead as one of your influences were there any others? Yeah I took influences from not only grindhouse movies, but also other movies, there’s some Star Wars references in there if you find them. They’re all over the place actually. We took some of the colors taken from grindhouse films; the green, the red, the yellow…mostly comes from that…Influences
though, came from all over the place.
Were there any interesting stories, did you see any people peeking out of their homes wondering, what are these people doing with all this blood? I’ll tell you what, when we were shooting at the supermarket, we couldn’t shoot during the day because people were in it and the story takes place during the night. The owners were kind enough to leave us their keys and we were going in at ten and leaving at three, when we would go outside in the outside parking lot, we had these guns in the movie: M16 and a Shotgun. We had big guns, there was a neighborhood around the supermarket, and we wanted to avoid seeing these things and calling the cops, so what I did, I went to go talk to the Alamo Police Department, talked them into getting us a permit and that we were going to be in the area. They told us, it wasn’t a safe neighborhood and that we were best to avoid doing that because we would end up getting into trouble. While we were shooting, we obviously weren’t listening to them, every time we were shooting, every time a cop would pass by, we would cut, hide our guns behind our back, wait for the cars to pass by. They would see fifteen, twenty people with cameras, lights, and stuff, then when they were gone, we would take our guns back out. We were pretty much scared of shooting outdoors, we even hired a security guard. What was the most difficult scene getting done, was there a certain scene that you just had to reshoot over and over again? What was hard about filming? Finding the locations. What happened towards the month we started shooting, we couldn’t find places that we had written down two years before, they either didn’t exist here in South Texas or they weren’t here. What ended up happening was that it impacted the story, and it worked for the best, we looked back at the script and we’re like, no, no. Other than that, the hardest part was the whole 24 hour period of shooting at ten, finish and get home by six in the morning, go to sleep, wake up. Some of our actors and crew went to school, did their stuff, come home and get ready. Personally my day would start as soon as I would wake up, I would do the
blood, review the footage, prepare for the day, got to the location to shoot, got back home, and sleep for like five, six hours. I lived like that for two months, it was stressful. Was there ever a time to say, “That’s enough, I need to cut back on what’s written”? Sure there was, the script, like I said, took us two years to write, we were still writing it at the time, some scenes came out better, lines made one other scene obsolete so we had to cut it out. Even in editing, we had to cut some stuff out. Writing starts whenever you get the idea and finishes when you’re done with the film. Jose Sanchez, thank you very much!