Latin Heat Entertainment: EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Diego Velasco Talks About the Creation of ‘Latinx Directors’ Database

By Justina Bonilla

In the last few years, audiences have made a substantial call for content from major and independent studios to include ethnic talent in front of and behind the camera. While there is a positive increase in Black talent and content such as Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Judas and the Black Messiah, representation for Latinos is greatly underrepresented.

In response to the persistent lack of Latinos directing film and TV projects, directors Alberto Belli (The House of Flowers), Joel Novoa (Arrow) and Diego Velasco (Orange Is the New Black) and Aurora Guerrero (Gentefied) took matters into their own hands. They created the online database Latinx Directors. Launched last summer, the website’s goal is to offer studios, agencies and others an easy-to-search online resource to find Latino directors for their projects.

Currently, the database lists over 200 talents organized in a dozen genres, from action, comedy and documentary to drama, live events and science fiction. Visitors can filter the roster by the length of experience in television and filmmakers’ participation in diversity programs.

Latinx Directors is a valuable tool needed in the entertainment industry to address the lack of Latino talent hired for films, streaming programs, television shows and commercials. Latinos represent 18.5 percent of the U.S. population.

The 2019 USC study Latinos in Film: Erasure On-Screen & Behind the Camera Across 1,200 Popular Movies found that only 4 percent of all directors were Latinos. The survey evaluated films released from 2007 through 2018. It was conducted by USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, National Association of Latino Independent Producers and Wise Entertainment.

Among the talent featured in Latinx Director’s database are the TV directors/showrunners Tanya Saracho (Vida) and Gloria Calderon Kellet (One Day at a Time), as well as film director Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead 2013 and Don’t Breathe).

In our exclusive interview with Velasco, he shares the development of Latinx Directors, their current goals, and hopes for the future.

JUSTINA BONILLA: What was the genesis of Latinx Directors?

DIEGO VELASCO: We’re all directors and part of the Latino Committee at DGA [Directors Guild of America]. We were all separate, [but] hearing, “Oh, I’m looking for a Latin director, but I just don’t know where there’s any.” There are all these shows that have Latin characters and Latin stories, but it was just white guys directing it.

My wife is a writer, and she did [a list], called the Untitled Latinx Projectwhich is a bunch of female writers who got together and started creating a list to share names. Anytime they would have meetings with executives and studios, they would hear about projects and [asked if they] could send them the list. And [the executives would ask], “You mean you want to send a list of people competing for your job?” They wanted it to go to a Latinx person. [They’d] rather it go to one of us. If [they] don’t get it, then give it to someone whose [on the list].

I thought that was really inspiring. We should be doing the same as directors. We’ll have one place where these producers have a place to find Latinx directors.

JB: How do you qualify to be a part of Latinx Directors?

DV: [Potential members] have to have qualifications to be accepted. They have directed a feature that has been in a recognized in a festival; we have a list of festivals. Or, you have to have done a television episode that is streaming or on a network.

We want to help everyone and be able to lift everyone. But at the same time, we can’t put somebody in a situation that they might not be ready for. We set standards, so if any one of them gets hired, we feel confident that they can do a great job.

JB: How does your database work?

DV: You can [use] filters. We have self-identification, LGBT, or you can do cultural identity or heritage. And you can combine all the ones you want. Plus, you can do film experience, TV experience, union, or not union. It’s the only searchable database for Latinx directors that allows you to do all those things.

JB: What is the overall goal for Latinx Directors?

DV: Our motto is, “No more stories about us without us.” And then, don’t box us into just one category. There are Latinx directors that are incredible in genre, incredible in sci-fi. Just because you are Mexican or your Salvadorian doesn’t mean you can’t [direct] Star Wars.

We just want to be authentic to our culture and to share our unique points of view.

JB: Apart from promoting Latinx Directors, what is your key aspiration?

Velasco: If people who are not familiar with Latin culture, to not fear it. It’s okay to not know all the answers. It’s okay to be intimidated by it. But, if they give themselves a chance to work with Latinx directors, you might be surprised that everybody who is on that list wants to go above and beyond and wants to do the best job they can. So, you really get a level of commitment that I would encourage everybody to try.

LINK: https://www.latinheat.com/everything-related-to-film/film/exclusive-interview-diego-velasco-co-founder-of-the-latinx-directors-database/

Latin Heat Entertainment: Trailer: Season 3 of FX’s ‘Pose’ Begins Airing May 2

 

By Justina Bonilla

The critically praised and fan-favorite FX original series Pose, starring MJ Rodriguez, will air its third and final season on May 2, 2021, with the previous seasons available on Netflix.

The series, about New York City’s African-American and Latino LGBTQ and gender-nonconforming drag ball culture of the 1980’s, was created by Ryan MurphyBrad Falchuk, and Steven Canals, who is a proud, openly queer Puerto Rican, and brings all that authenticity to the table.

In Pose, Rodriguez stars as Blanca Rodriguez, is an active member of the Black and Latinx LGBT+ drag ballroom culture of New York City. The series follows Rodriguez, her family, friends, and community from the 1980s to the early 1990s. Season 3 takes place in 1994 New York City, at the height of the Aids epidemic. During this hectic time of turmoil, we follow the cast as each deals with the impact of their personal achievements, struggles and the profound repercussions of AIDs.

Pose is a groundbreaking television program, as the first television program to feature the largest cast of transgender actors in recurring roles.

Rodriguez is an award-winning Afro-Puerto Rican transgender actress and singer, who emerged from live theatre.

— Featured Photo:  Pari Dukovic/FX

LINK: https://www.latinheat.com/tv-3/trailer-season-3-of-fxs-pose-begins-airing-may-2/

Latin Heat Entertainment: Trailer: West Side Story Coming Dec. 10

By Justina Bonilla

 

The highly anticipated reimagining of the Oscar-winning groundbreaking American classic film West Side Story will be opening in theaters on December 10, 2021.

During the Oscars, Sunday night premiered the first official trailer for 20th Century Studio’s West Side Story. A colorful, visually breathtaking trailer.

Directed by the iconic filmmaker Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner (Lincoln and Munich), this duo is breathing new life into this interracial interpretation of the timeless Shakespearean tale Romeo and Juliet.

West Side Story was originally a stage play, with music written by one of the influential composers of modern music, Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein was married to the Chilean actress Felicia Montealegre.

In West Side Story, two street gangs (The Jets and The Sharks) in 1950s New York fight for dominance of the though streets of the upper west side. However, issues arise when The Shark’s leader’s Bernardo’s (David Alvarez) sister Maria (Rachael Zelger) falls in love with Tony (Ansel Elgot), a member of The Jets.

The EGOT winning actress Rita Moreno, who was both a part of the main cast and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Anita in the original 1961 West Side Story, will also be appearing in this version of the film as Valentina, a new and original character for the 2021 film.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the original West Side Story.

— Featured Photo: Disney Studios

LINK: https://www.latinheat.com/everything-related-to-film/trailer-west-side-story-coming-dec-10/

Latin Horror: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: ‘THE HOWLING’ 40th Anniversary Interview with Scream Queens DEE WALLACE

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Joe Dante’s classic werewolf flick, ‘The Howling‘. In 1981 Joe Dante was set to carve out his own space from a crowded wolf scene in the cinemas that included ‘An American Werewolf in London‘ and ‘Wolfen‘. Dante did not disappoint as the film did well at the box-office ($17.9 million) and spawned seven sequels. The movie also cemented Dante and producer Michael Finnell careers as it gave them box-office credibility for their followup, ‘Gremlins. Currently Netflix has plans to remake The Howling.

At the time of 1981, Dee Wallace was a talented up-and-coming actress that had won the lead role of Karen White, a news anchor in the The Howling. A film based on a novel by Gary Brandner. Her wonderful performance in the cult classic put Dee on the radar as a leading lady for studio movies. She followed with lead roles in Stephen King’s 1981 novel adaptation ‘Cujo‘ and Steven Spielberg’s classic ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial‘. Today, Dee is still making films as a producer/actress and has ventured into becoming an author with a collection of self-help books.

“The Howling got me lots of attention, E.T. put me on a really major map as far as the industry.” – Dee Wallace 

In this exclusive interview, Latin Horror’s own Justina Bonilla sits down with scream queen, Dee Wallace to discuss the impact of The Howling after 40 years. Dee talks about her career as an Actress & Author, as well as how it was working onset with Joe DanteJohn CarradineSlim Pickens, and her husband Christopher Stone. Also find out about the most important question of them all, how this scream queen likes her burger cooked!!! So don’t wait for the full moon, start your transformation, and sink your teeth into this raw interview with Dee Wallace.

Check out the Video Interview Below:

Written Segment/Video Produced by Christian A. Morán     Video Hosted by Justina Bonilla

LINK: https://latinhorror.com/exclusive-the-howling-40th-dee-wallace/

Latin Heat Entertainment: ‘The Forever Purge’ Features a Strong Latino Presence

 

By Justina Bonilla

Official Poster

The Forever Purge, the final film of the popular The Purge franchise, is scheduled to premiere July 2, 2021.

A strong presence of Mexican talent is featured in The Forever Purge both in front and behind the camera, including stars Ana de la Reguera and Tenoch Huerta and director Everardo Gout, as well as the Spanish-born, Mexico City-based cinematographer Luis David Sansans.  

The plot, according to Total Film: “[The Forever Purge] will take place after the events of [The PurgeElection Year (whereas The First Purge acted as a prequel to the 2013 original [film The Purge]) and will center on Adela (Reguera) and Juan (Huerta), who finds solace at a Texan ranch, having fled a drug cartel in Mexico. Things go awry when a group of outsiders decides to keep purging beyond the allotted time when people can break any and all laws.”

Ana de la Reguera
(Photo: Paradigm)

De la Reguera began her career in multiple Mexican telenovelas. She gained notoriety for her role as Sister Encarnacion in the Jack Black comedic film Nacho Libre. Later, she appeared in an array of American television shows such as NarcosTwin Peaks (2017), From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, and Anna.   

Huerta has acted in many Mexican films, including two films with writer-director Issa Lopez; the comedy Road to Fame and the fantasy horror Tigers are Not Afraid. On television, Huerta played Blue Demon, the legendary Mexican professional wrestler, in the series Blue Demon and had a recurring role in Narcos: Mexico.

Tenoch Huerta
(Photo: Erick Delgado)

Gout began his directing career as a second assistant director for Romeo + Juliet. He directed multiple shorts and television shows, most notably Mars for National Geographic. Later, Gout’s feature film Days of Grace, which featured Huerta as a part of the main cast, premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

Sansans has been working in Mexico for over 20 years. Like Gout, Sansans worked on Romeo + Juliet (video assistant operator) and Days of Grace (cinematographer). His own filmography features camera work for Man on Fire and Y Tu Mama Tambien and as a cinematographer for Narcos and Narcos: Mexico.

James DeMonaco wrote The Forever Purge script. DeMonaco is the main creator of The Purge franchise, also wrote the previous five The Purge films and wrote on The Purge TV series. He also directed the first three of The Purge films, The PurgeThe Purge: Anarchy and The Purge: Election Year.

The Purge franchise is distributed by Universal Pictures and produced by Blumhouse Productions and Platinum Dunes.

Link: https://www.latinheat.com/spotlight-news/the-forever-purge-features-a-strong-latino-presence/

Latin Heat Entertainment: Edgar Ramirez Joins Cast of Lionsgate’s ‘Borderlands’

 

By Justina Bonilla

Edgar Ramirez has joined the all-star cast of the upcoming film adaption of one of the world’s most popular video games franchises Borderlands.

Edgar Ramirez
(Photo: Official Twitter)

Ramirez will play Atlas, a weapons manufacturing business titan and is regarded as the universe’s most powerful person. Among the cast of impressive talent alongside Ramirez include Cate BlanchettKevin HartJack Black and Jamie Lee CurtisBorderlands will be directed by Eli Roth and written by two-time Emmy-winning screenwriter Craig Mazin.

Among his diverse acting resume, Ramirez is known for his roles in the 2015 remake of Point Break, Gold, and The Undoing. He gained critical acclaim for his portrayal of the iconic fashion designer Gianni Versace in the mini-series American Crime Story. He also recently starred opposite Jennifer Garner in Miguel Arteta’s Yes Day.

“What an incredible honor to have an actor of Edgar’s caliber, talent, and charisma playing opposite Cate Blanchett and this remarkable cast,” Roth shared with Deadline in a statement. “Atlas has to be a truly magnetic personality, someone with charisma and charm but that air of menace underneath it all. I’ve been a fan of Edgar’s since his early performances, and he continues to amaze me with each dramatic turn. We want to create something wild, fun, and very different from anything they’ve seen from Edgar before. I am so, so excited to work with him.”

Ariana Greenblatt
(Photo: Tiziano Lugli)

Part of this highly talented cast is the young up-and-coming talent Ariana Greenblatt. Greenblatt is best known for her role in the Disney TV series Stuck in the Middle from 2016-2018. Among her film credits include Avengers: Infinity War and the upcoming musical In the Heights.

“Ariana is a spectacular new talent in cinema,” Roth also shared in a previous statement with Deadline. “She has already worked with many of my close collaborators, and everyone raves about her. She blew us all away in her audition, and I cannot wait to see her bring the wild, insane and unpredictable Tiny Tina to the big screen. She’s going to blow up on screen like one of Tina’s grenades.”

Lionsgate’s synopsis for Borderlands reads as follows:

Lilith (Blanchett), an infamous outlaw with a mysterious past reluctantly returns to her home planet of Pandora to find the missing daughter of the universe’s most powerful S.O.B., Atlas (Ramirez). Lilith forms an alliance with an unexpected team – Roland (Hart), a former elite mercenary, now desperate for redemption; Tiny Tina (Greenblatt), a feral pre-teen demolitionist; Krieg (Florian Munteanu), Tina’s musclebound, rhetorically challenged protector; Tannis (Curtis), the scientist with a tenuous grip on sanity; and Claptrap (Black), a persistent wiseass robot.

These unlikely heroes must battle alien monsters and dangerous bandits to find and protect the missing girl, who may hold the key to unimaginable power. The fate of the universe could be in their hands – but they’ll be fighting for something more: each other.”

The Borderlands franchise is an action shooter video game with four main games and several expansions. It has internationally sold over 68 million units. The franchise is available for gaming consuls and PCs as a single-player or multiplayer. As a “Vault Hunter,” your goal within Borderlands is to plow your way through an array of enemies as you collect unique weapons to reach a highly prized Vault. Its biggest appeal is the wildly flamboyant characters, from enemies to unlikely allies.

Borderlands started filming on April 1, 2021, in Budapest, Hungary. Lionsgate has announced no official release date.

LINK: https://www.latinheat.com/everything-related-to-film/film/edgar-ramirez-joins-cast-of-lionsgates-borderlands/

Latin Horror: EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Keith David spreads deadly ‘Pesticide’ in Shudder’s CREEPSHOW SEASON 2

Shudder’s Creepshow is back for season two! The hit anthology series run by showrunner Greg Nicotero is now streaming via Shudder with weekly episodes. Episode two of season two features ‘Pesticide‘ which stars, Josh McDermittKeith David, and Ashley Laurence. According to the press release, the synopsis reads, “An exterminator is tasked with a big job, and it’s more than he bargained for. The payout is huge, but is it worth what it’s costing him?” Pesticide is written by Frank Dietz and Directed by the horror legend himself, Greg Nicotero.

In an exclusive interview Justin Bonilla of Latin Horror sits down with actor and star of PesticideKeith David!!! The Pesticide star talks about the original Creepshow (1982), working in animation, how Josh McDermitt is creepy and Soup! Plus Managing Editor, Christian A. Morán makes an appearance to reveal how Keith David traumatized him as a teen!

CHECK OUT THE INTERVIEW BELOW:

LINK: https://latinhorror.com/exclusive-video-keith-david-creepshow-s2/

WiHM Special – Justina Bonilla

posted by Don Anelli on 

An accomplished and established genre journalist and writer, Justina Bonilla is working on furthering coverage of Latin contributions to the genre with her work on several publications showcasing her work. Now, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I talk with her about her early interest in writing, the process for creating her articles and upcoming projects.

Me: Hello, and thank you for taking the time to do this. First off, when did you get into horror in general?

Justina Bonilla: My interest in horror began at a young age, through a combination of classic cartoons, Disneyland, and the horror films that my mom shared with us.
Classic cartoons: Since Mom didn’t like the popular cartoons on TV, she would show us classic cartoons such as Disney films and short cartoons. I enjoyed the artistically dark aspects of these cartoons, including the Disney Films Show WhiteBeauty and the BeastFantasia, and Disney’s Halloween Treat. Also, many of the short cartoons I adored such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, surprisingly had a horror-themed plot, such as Balloon Land (1935), Pluto’s Judgment Day (1935), Fox Pop (1942), and There’s Good Boos Tonight (1948).
Disneyland: I was born and raised in Orange County, within a few miles of Disneyland. When my parents took my brothers and me to Disneyland, I always wanted to go on The Haunted Mansion and watch the Fantasmic! water show, which featured my favorite Fantasia short, “Night at Bald Mountain”.
Mom: Coming from a traditional Mexican family, our religion, Roman Catholicism is important to us. Mom wanted to instill in us at an early age that there is good and evil in the world, both seen and invisible. To show us how evil can manifest, together we watched a variety of Catholic and paranormal-themed horror films at a young age, including PoltergeistThe Amityville HorrorRosemary’s BabyThe Exorcist, and The Omen.


Me: Where you into genre films growing up?

JB: Yes, because of my family’s wide range of film taste. Growing up, I was chronically ill and as a consequence, spent more time homeschooled than in school. In between the constant doctor appointments, my constant companion was my TV and VHS player. As a result, my family would show me their favorite movies, to cheer me up. For example, an auntie showed me screwball comedies and melodramas, while an uncle showed me musicals and British comedies, and Dad let me watch gangster films with him.


Me: What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?

JB: It was a combination of films and TV shows.
The films: the classic Universal monster films, especially The Bride of Frankenstein and The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. The TV programs: Elvira’s Movie MacabreThe Adams FamilyMystery Science Theatre 3000GoosebumpsTales of the Crypt13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, and TCM Underground hosted by Rob Zombie.


Me: Were you always into writing growing up?

JB: Surprisingly, no. I’m severely dyslexic. For instance, when I was first learning the alphabet, I struggled so much, that I taught myself the alphabet in Braille, so I wouldn’t have to read. Later, I was rejected by a school for dyslexic children, because I was too dyslexic. Over many years, with extensive tutoring for writing, spelling, and grammar, I’ve been fortunate enough to develop a voice through my written word. 


Me: When did you first discover your passion for writing?

JB: The passion is in the storytelling. I developed my initial storytelling abilities from telling jokes. From there, it evolved to funny stories, which helped me to communicate with my younger brother, who was struggling to connect or communicate with us, due to his autism. Seeing how he positively responded to funny stories encouraged me to keep developing my storytelling skills.

Me: Do you enjoy the liberation of being a freelance journalist in the genre?

JB: Yes. I have the flexibility of writing for different outlets, on a variety of subjects related to film and TV. This allows me to grow as a writer, develop my researching skills, and enjoy the experiences of interviewing a wide variety of talents.

Me: Being a female writer in the community was there a lot of acceptance or push-back on your views?

JB: For the most part, my writing has been accepted. Any criticism so far has been constructive.

Me: You specialize in the Latin side of the entertainment business working on several sites covering their cinematic contributions. What was the inspiration to start exploring that side of the industry?

JB: My parents are Mexican immigrants. From a young age, I noticed how the majority of Latinos in American media were portrayed Latinos in negative stereotypes. Unfortunately, as I aged, I saw how these negative images would impact how others would see and treat Latinos. These images have contributed to reaffirming systematic racism.
As I became a more passionate film fan, I wanted to explore the contributions of Latinos and other people of color in American cinema. I was amazed by what Latinos had contributed to cinema as both talent and audiences. Sadly, many of the contributions of people of color, especially in the early years of Hollywood were minimized, or even ignored.
Wanting to highlight what Latinos have to offer in entertainment as talent and as an audience, past and present, I began writing Latino-themed articles. As the Latino community continues to grow, it’s a market that hasn’t been fully tapped into, especially in horror.

Me: What is the usual process towards starting a new piece?

JB: Usually, the process begins with lots of research, which can take a considerable amount of time. Once I find a potential topic for an article, I match it to the site that  I believe it will best suit. After I have clearance for the article, I begin to write. This process is the same, whether I have one topic for an article or multiple topics for various articles.


Me: Once you begin working, what is the process for staying focused on your article?

JB: I make a calendar of my articles with due dates. This helps me to focus on the priority articles. Then, I divide what days and times I work on which articles, especially if I have more than one article. Sometimes, I have to delay certain articles, especially if a time-sensitive piece needs to be written and published quickly. What also helps with staying focused, is having a small home office, away from the more active part of my home, good headphones, and several music playlists with themes varying from Frank Sinatra/big band classics, to horror film scores.

Me: What are some of the more unique or memorable experiences working on the site has provided for you?

JB: Overall, as a freelance writer, my three most memorable published interviews are with the world-renowned astrophysicist Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of FOX’s Cosmos, the showrunner of Eli Roth’s History of Horror Kurt Sayenga, and the two co-presidents of Blumhouse Television, Jeremy Gold (current president) and Marci Wiseman (former co-president).

Me: What else are you working on that you’d like to share with our readers?

JB: I have a few interviews that will be published soon, with horror talent I have admired for some time. I’m also working on original horror short stories. My hope is that these short stories will either be individual shorts, or a part of an anthology film. But, for certain more horror content in the upcoming months.


Me: Lastly, being that this is Women in Horror Month, what special message do you have for any women out there looking to join in the industry in any capacity as you are one yourself? Thank you again for your time!

JB: If you have a passion for horror writing, such as my case, pursue it. However, I heavily emphasize that there is a lot of work and time that goes into writing, researching, pursuing interviews, getting published, and self-promotion. You can meet a lot of amazing people and gain great opportunities. The hard work pays off, only if you are willing to put in the work. It’s something that you can do on the side and still get great joy from.
Also, with more women, especially women of color, becoming more visible in horror, it’s a great time for more women to get involved in horror.
This interview ran as part of our Women in Horror Month celebrations. Click the banner below to check out all of our reviews and interviews about the occasion:

LINK: https://donshorrorworld.blogspot.com/2021/03/wihm-special-justina-bonilla.html?spref=fb&fbclid=IwAR1D5RVWUwE1nu81ecohLFpThvBLJ15q_vtNRRFkRhxOPmpqczFBnkXMUoA

Latin Horror: EXCLUSIVE: ‘KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE’ Composer, JOHN MASSARI talks Popcorn Bazookas, Acid Pies & Cotton Candy Ray Guns

LATIN HORROR Justina Bonilla of Latin Horror sits down with John Massari, the composer of the cult classic ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space‘. Get your acid pies and get ready to melt! As John talks about his musical influences, his favorite horror flicks, and how the premier of ‘Killer Klowns From Outer Space‘ was shocking! Get ready for a musical journey into the world of ‘KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE‘.

LINK: https://latinhorror.com/exclusive-killer-klowns-from-outer-space-john-massari/?fbclid=IwAR1iO2wUqOWdqWf69W_a76S5MYHsVT6mmvPno5AC_QEVZ4LVxgb9QG9PIV4