Monday 13 May 2013

Interview: Sonny Laguna (Director | Writer | Actor | Cinematographer | Producer | Editor | Visual Effects | Special Effects | Sound Department | Camera and Electrical Department )

Today we´re speaking with Sonny Laguna who is part of Stockholm Syndrome Film, over the past few years they have finally put Sweden on the map of horror with movies such as Madness (2010), Blood Runs Cold (2011) and Wither (2012).

J.L: How did you get into film making?
S.L: Hi Jörgen! Well, we were three teens at the time, around 15 when we started making lousy short movies on a VHS-camera. We didn't think anything special about it other then it was a fun thing to do. But soon enough it got serious, especially when we could start edit on a computer. Suddenly the world of real film making had opened up for us, and from that point on we could never let go. There was nothing else that was as fun and rewarding as putting together stories through a lens.

J.L: What are some of your favorite films?
S.L: Always a tough question to answer. I'm a Star Wars geek to begin with, but there are simply tons of insanely great movies out there. Some of Nolan's movies, their overall tones are captivating. I could probably list a few hundred great movies ranging from low budget to blockbuster movies.

J.L: Who are some of your influences?
S.L: To list a few, John Carpenter, Christopher Nolan, Sam Raimi, George Lucas. Actors, well, there are once again at least twenty I can think of so... Let's just leave it there. Well ok, it was a shame that both Heath Ledger and Brittany Murphy passed away in that regard, one can't help but think of all the cool movies they would have made if they had lived.

J.L: Please tell us about Stockholm Syndrome Films?
S.L: We started the company in 2006, by we I mean myself, Tommy Wiklund and David Liljeblad. Yes, the guys that started with a VHS-camera all those years back. We started the company so we could potentially make money and be taken serious and that happened with our first feature film, MADNESS in 2009.

J.L: Which films and what inspired you in the creation of WITHER?
S.L: Evil Dead is what everyone says and we say to. If someone says to us that we draw inspiration from Cabin in the woods I will punch them in the face. Why draw inspiration from shit? (IMHO) Well, I think that's basically it. Oh wait, we are fans of Norwegian horror films such as Cold Prey and Troll Hunter.

J.L: What kind of budget were you working with on WITHER?
S.L: 300.000 SEK, which translates to about 45.000 USD. Which is compared to most films, absolutely nothing.

J.L: How did the shooting go for WITHER?
S.L: The shooting went well I must say. With all the blood and make up that had to be applied for everyday use and the actors not being able to see anything through the special lenses we used we naturally went over the time schedule. We became very tired and lost our way so to speak and just went on instinct the last 10-15 shooting days. It sounds harsh, but that's the reality of it. Luckily the vision and script is well talked about before so we can go always rely on our old plan and not just the in the moment feelings. Planning is essential to success and improvising when someone get's sick and the weather is wrong and the money is burnt.

J.L: What kind of reception has WITHER been getting?
S.L: Most people seem to like it for what it is and some has given it really high scores in reviews. We'll have to wait and see when the film is released in both the US and Sweden to know for sure, but we know very well what is good and bad about it.

J.L: How different is the final version from earlier drafts?
S.L: I can't say for sure but I think at least 4-5 scenes went into the dumpster. Some scenes just don't work on screen and some things aren't needed when editing. And then there were scenes we had to re-shoot because either we fucked up the lightning or the actors sucked.

J.L: What lessons did you learn while making it?
S.L: Planning is a lesson you never can have enough of. Don't underestimate the forces you can't control and be sure to kill a scene quickly if it doesn't work for some reason. And be sure to test your actors properly or you could end up with a person that isn't easy to work with and don't deliver. And yeah, working closely with the actors on the script beforehand is a must. We are such a small things we often rely on them to come through but it doesn't work that way.

J.L: Were there any scenes that didn´t make it to the final film?
S.L: Like I said earlier, there were several. One scene in the beginning setting up one of the characters while having a Swedish comedian named Soran Ismail in the scene just wasn't needed in the end, though I would have loved to meet the guy and surely he would have been a good actor. There is an alternative ending that is included as extras on the Blu-ray/DVD so check out that one, it features two new actors at the end.

J.L: WITHER will be released on on Blu-ray and DVD on May 31, 2013 in Germany by Mammut Home Entertainment, Is there any dates for the region 1 DVD release for it?
S.L: No, not yet. It will release in the U.S sometime this year and hopefully follows up with a U.K release. WITHER has been sold to Japan and Hong Kong also, but no word on release there.

J.L: BLOOD RUNS COLD will be released on July 2, 2013 on Region 1 by Salient Media.  Which films and what inspired you in the creation of BLOOD RUNS COLD?
S.L: BLOOD RUNS COLD has been out in the U.K since 2011 so it's been a slow start for the U.S release. I guess BLOOD RUNS COLD was inspired by films such as Cold Prey but The thing is a film that comes to mind for all snowy films. BLOOD RUNS COLD was a lost vision that turned into a slasher, I've said in earlier interviews that I would redo around 50% of the script if I had the chance. But we have a small fan base there which I'm grateful for.

J.L: What kind of budget were you working with on BLOOD RUNS COLD?
S.L: As the trailers say, 5.000 USD. So nothing basically. It was the hardest shooting ever for us and I think I can still say that in five years.

J.L: How did you raise the funds?
S.L: Money from our own pocket goes for all our films.

J.L: How did the shooting go for BLOOD RUNS COLD?
S.L: Since we had to fight the extremely cold swedish winter and we could barely heat up the house we shot in we were freezing our asses off. But we had a very tight crew that fought for it so I can safely say it went fairly straightforward. Not as gigantic as the shooting of WITHER

J.L: What kind of reception has BLOOD RUNS COLD been getting?
S.L: A really mixed bag. Some people love it, some people hate it so much they need an explanation from me. It's funny though, I've watched a lot of shit in my days and I've never felt the need to ask for an apology from the film makers. It's not like I bought a million DVDs and went bankrupt while watching it.

J.L: How different is the final version from earlier drafts?
S.L: Very different. A totally different film. It wasn't meant to become a slasher but maybe it should have been from the beginning.

J.L: What lessons did you learn while making it?
S.L: Mostly script lessons. Let's just say we've become at least 200% better between BLOOD... and WITHER.

J.L: Were there any scenes that didn´t make it to the final film?
S.L: The villain didn't make it into the final film. We actually shot the new character Tommy and David came up with over one old shot that we had already filmed prior to changing the bad guy. No has ever noticed, but he walks and attacks one character and it's the wrong guy from the shot! Yeah, it's messed up. And the ending is totally different.

J.L: You got a new feature flick in the planning called REVENGE. Any updates on it? What can you tell us about it?
S.L: Well, the crowd funding went to hell, but we are making it anyway. We plan to start shooting it this July. It will be very different from our previous efforts and I think it will be a lot of fun to shoot and very disturbing to watch. I can safely say there is no monsters and supernatural killers in it. Just humans. And damn we are capable of some horrible deeds... Please look forward to it. I'd love to discuss it with you later down the road. Thanks for having me here, take care!

I´d like to thank Sonny Laguna for taking the time off to answer my questions.



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