An interview with Jhosimar Vasquez | The Scorpion's Tale | VMA19 BEST OF THE MONTH | June Edition
Jhosimar Vasquez is one of most promising young directors to keep an eye on in the very near future. Originally from Peru, but resident in Los Angeles, Jhosimar won the coveted Vegas Movie Awards Best of the Month prize in June 2019 with his feature The Scorpion’s Tale.
The film is a splendid crime drama centered around revenge, greed and debts. Matched up with a short, but intense trip within the human soul and the awareness of one’s evil nature.
The 22-minute gem was written and produced by Maximiliano Hernández, who already showcased his strong acting abilities in blockbusters such as Captain America and Avengers: Endgame. In this film, Hernández proves once more his outstanding acting performances in the role of ‘The Scorpion’.
We interviewed Jhosimar about his directors’ debute, the challenges faced in the production of The Scorpion’s Tale and his future endeavors.
• Hi Jhosimar, first of all we want to congratulate you. The Scorpion’s Tale has won the Best of the Month, June ’19 edition at the Vegas Movie Awards, and is also in the running for the title of Best Film of The Year that will be granted during the annual event in Las Vegas. How do you feel about receiving glowing reviews and so much appreciation for your work from the film industry itself?
Hi there, thank you so much for having The Scorpion’s Tale for Best of the Month and also winning Best Director. It really means a lot that many people have different experience when watching the film. Because when I made it I had my own experience and feeling about it, and hearing great things from several people about the film makes me think that this is really what a movie can do to a person. Have different experiences and that's important at the end of the day.
• You were born and raised in Peru, but relocated several times with your family, before settling down in Los Angeles. How significant has this dazzling city been for your career?
Since the beginning of my career LA has been competitive but that was a plus to set my mind on pro-active work every day. Knowing that out there in the city there's a lot of talented directors and movies getting made every single day. The locations in LA, the diversity of people and also diversity of Festivals are a teacher of its own, where if you pay attention to what's real and you might have a chance to absorb that and bring it to a script where the ideas and the stories are more powerful like all my movies. The imperfect reality is the most beautiful gift that we have every single day.
Directing became a way of explaining the world I lived in.
• How did you found out you wanted to be a film director? What where your first steps in this difficult, but fascinating world of movies?
I like listening to music with my headphones. When I went to Junior high I became part of the theatre class of my school. I always had my headphones with me listening to one of my favorite and emotional tracks from those times. I would always try to merge the music I listen to the world I lived in. Like finding a story while looking at people live their own lives. Later I finished high school and I went to film school without having any knowledge about how to make a movie.
This was in 2012. I realized that when I was talking to people about memories I had about me the way I told my memories were not that exciting because I emphasized a lot in the emotional aspects of the person and how they were moving each part of their body. The first time I directed in a film workshop in Mexico I found out that those little details that I told me friends about my memories made sense because the essential is in the details. Since then I’ve been practicing directing more and more where it became a language different to the one that I speak every day. Directing became a way of explaining the world I lived in. • Maximiliano Hernández - famous on big screen and one of the executive directors -, participated in the screen writing process of this film as well. From an outsiders perspective, it looked like you were on the same page. How did your collaboration begin? Will we see you work again in the near future?
When me and my friend wrote The Scorpion's Tale it was first 10 pages. Later we were looking for cast for the movie. So we found Maximiliano Hernández from watching Sicario, and most of the MARVEL movies. So I contacted my Producer and he sent an email to Max agent. His agent answered and two days after we were meeting Max. He came on board excited with ideas and a longer story for the film. He brought on board most of the cast that he knew from TV shows and Netflix shows. The entire cast was amazing. they saw my reel and believed in the project.
We have plans to work again next year for a feature piece of The Scorpion's Tale. Summer next year the Scorpion will comeback to theaters.
• In spite of your young age, you have shown strong directional abilities. What influenced your directing style? Who helped you become the director you are today?
I went to film school in Mexico but I did not feel that the city was exploiting the talent that I had. I saw the city in black and white, so I moved to LA for film school. The teachers were strict and that's something good I took out from them. Because if they were strict on directing classes it means they cared. I learned subtext from one of my teachers and then I started formulating what subtext meant in my movies and how important subtext it was for my movies and specially for me.
Directing movies with professional film crew helps a lot too. Because decisions have to be made faster but surely also when talking to your film crew they depend on you. They see you as the leader, and a good leader is always in control of every up and down moment on set.
• With a cast made out of talented actors like Maximiliano Hernández, Anthony Starke, Adam Irigoyen and Ness Bautista, your movie is a guaranteed success! How was it to work with so many renowned actors? Was the casting a harsh process?
Working with amazing cast was a blessing of learning and knowing that amazing cast is human too. Getting to know them was great, and also directing them. There was one time were we were on the second day of filming and I was talking to Adam about the scene with the father inside the prison. I told him what we can do better and he just said yup. I told it feels that you already know what I'm gonna tell you. He said yeah haha.
Besides from making the film I was also making memories and experiences happening on set.
• You are a debuting director. What were the biggest difficulties in the realization of such an ambitious project as The Scorpion’s Tale?
The most major difficulty was the amount of days that was given to us, and also the amount of shots per day that we had to do. Every day we did 60 shots. It was a challenge but learning on how to handle the amount of pressure was the fun part of it.
• One of the most fascinating aspects of your feature is that it doesn’t exclusively highlights violence as such, like we usually notice in similar movies, but instead we follow the psychological state of mind of the characters and we witness how they work out their own identity. For a person like you that loves to tell the stories of people that live imperfect lives, this movie must have been an exceptional chance?
In the first draft of The Scorpion's Tale there was violence were the lead character gets burned alive, but in that first draft it was rather more symbolic and emotional. Where we have violence but everything has a meaning, and each character gives their internal intake towards the things they do in the film. When writing the second draft that was 23 pages we expanded those thoughts from the first draft onto the second draft and created this big world that the film is now.
When coming up with imperfect lives and imperfect people made my view and theory that everyone has a story to tell no matter age, color, race, religion. There’s something happening every second that can expand to a wonderful story. Like The Scorpion's Tale.
I found this story when I still lived in Mexico City. How the story came to life was that I went to the offices of a prison in Mexico City to get my background checked in order to get my Mexican citizenship. But before entering the offices I saw a big line of laddies with kids. I asked my lawyer why they were making a line, and he explained that they were going to meet their family members that are inside the prison. So what I did was capture in my mind the faces of all the people waiting to go inside to meet their family members. From their faces I realized that there's a story to tell, and that's how it all started.
Your film crew depend on you. They see you as the leader, and a good leader is always in control of every up and down moment on set.
• The Scorpion’s Tale has everything it takes to be transformed into a feature-length film for example. Or did you ever consider turning the short into a television series? It’s a pity we can admire your work only during those 22 minutes...
The way The Scorpion's Tale was written was to either be a stand alone film or a series of episodes. You can notice that in the end of the movie. We are making it into a feature film next year. Right now we have been working on the script since January this year.
• Can you tell us something about the other projects you are working on? Where can our readers follow your growing star?
This year I’m directing a movie about an immigrant family stuck in the back of a truck at the impound lot of the border between Mexico and USA. And next year I'm flying to Argentina to direct an action feature film.
You guys can follow my work at the links below.
• Many thanks for joining Vegas Movie Awards, Jhosimar. We can’t wait to discover your upcoming work!
Thank you so much for having me and The Scorpion’s Tale here at Vegas Movie Awards. Definitely will comeback with my next feature film to VMA. Thank you!
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