14th BFI FUTURE FILM FESTIVAL, 2021
"I HATED THE IDEA OF MAKING A NARRATIVE DRIVEN STORY ABOUT THIS HOMELESS MAN'S PAST OR THE CLASSIC STORYLINE WHERE YOU SEE HOW HE ENDS UP ON THE STREETS."
Luis Gerardo LoGar
Damn Hobo / ¡Pinche Teporocho!
Section: THE INFINITE PLAYLIST
Set in a neon-lit Mexico City, Damn Hobo! tells the story of a homeless man's literal and figurative trip through the streets. When the sun goes down over the huge city, the darkness of night slowly transforms the man into a musical entity. This short film peeks into the experience of a rough sleeper and in doing so, challenges expectations through the establishment of music as the universal language.
Hi Luis thank you for talking to TNC, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
Thankfully, I’ve been doing fine. I’ve heard of the stories out there and I’m really grateful for being able to hold up just fine. I can’t think of a time where I stayed in my room this long and I hope I’ll never do it again. But between all the frustrations, I believe that I still managed to focus on my filmmaking and my writing.
Has this time offered you any new creative inspiration?
Yes, totally. Not so much in a “pandemic filmmaking” way or a film about these times, however, I recently filmed a new short film (with all the COVID-19 precautions) which had been on my mind for a long time. So, I guess that films will always come out, no matter the circumstances.
Congratulations on having Damn Hobo selected for the BFI Future Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of The Infinite Playlist section?
It is really great! Almost all my films are musically oriented because I was trained as a musician since I was a kid, and it is definitely a part of me I really know how to project on a screen. Cinema is a place where all the arts can meet, and the link between music and film is unbreakable.
Can you tell me a little bit about Damn Hobo, how did this film come about?
It is an interesting story, now that you ask. The idea came to me, literally. One day, walking in La Condesa (Mexico City SOHO-esque district) Thelma (the film's production designer) and I saw a homeless man singing. But he wasn’t singing in order to get money. He was just singing. Expressing himself. Finding his voice. After that, Thelma said sarcastically, “we should do a short about this”. So a few months later with a camera, lights, sound, an awesome crew, and a tremendous leading man, we filmed Damn Hobo!.
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing this film to life?
Well, money hahahaha. I think that is the first struggle you need to conquer as an independent filmmaker. But after that, I really think the biggest challenge was the way in which I wanted to tell the story. I hated the idea of making a narrative driven story about this homeless man’s past or the classic storyline where you see how he ends up on the streets. No. I wanted more of an experience channeled through music. And I think that’s what we ended up getting in the film; however, imagine telling a whole crew that this is the way you want to handle the narrative and asking them to believe in this weird vision you have. That was the biggest challenge for me. But fortunately, they did believe in me, and I’m really grateful for it.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?
Yes, of course. But I try to avoid overthinking it. Lessons learned and time to move on. I have so many more stories to tell, and so many more films to make that I cannot dwell on the things I’ve already done. Or that’s what I tell myself in order to stay sane hahahaha.
What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken away from making Damn Hobo?
Patience. Making films is a long road to follow. From the birth of an idea until the first screening, it’s a long time. And even if my personality is very anxious and wants everything at once, I did find that a film can change your view of how life works. As I said before, making a film, even a short film, takes a very long time. So being patient is key when you realise that you won’t be the same person as you were when the idea first came to your mind.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Subconsciously, I guess. Being honest, I’ve always seen life as film. Every decision, every experience, basically everything that has happened to me I’ve seen it as part of a whole film. But I guess I could say that I ended up in filmmaking because I wanted a place where I could tell stories using my music and writing abilities. And I just love the way that arts can be merged between them without any problem.
But don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved films. Going to the theatre, is and has always been a religious act for me.
What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?
Keep making films. There is no great filmmaker that I haven’t heard said the following statement: you can make films with your phone these days, so there is no limitation, keep making films. I’m paraphrasing of course but, yes, I’m aware that making films these days is easier and that you can make a film using your phone; however, I really think it is our responsibility as the new generation of filmmakers to stop, take our time, and make better films.
Just because it’s easier now to make films, it doesn’t mean that we should make a lot of films, all the time. I think we need to calm down, take our time developing interesting concepts, watch the world for a change, and then, only then, start to make films. There is no amount of junk films, even if they are thousands, that can compensate for a very well written, well executed film.
But yes, let’s not limit ourselves with budget. If you have a very polished screenplay…film it. With whatever you have.
Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
Yes, that is our job as the new generation. Film is a very young art, it is just over a hundred years old. I think that in order to continue developing the art we need to push the boundaries of what it can or can't do (in my humble opinion the “can’ts” are almost non-existent).
We need to get our vision of the world out there, so that other people can sympathize, and with that, create the new face of cinema.
"In whatever way you feel is a good time, I hope this film gives you that sensation."
Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
Honestly, I don’t think I’m in a position to give a lot of tips (or just not yet). But, I do have a quote that always helps me when I feel in distress.
“Life can be as sh***y as it can be, but never a dull time”.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Damn Hobo?
I really hope that they have a really, really good time. I don’t think that there is anything more human than to wish for a good time. In whatever way you feel is a good time, I hope this film gives you that sensation.
The ending is ambiguous because I like when the people complete the film. So, I hope that by the end, after the crazy joyride which I think this film will take you, you don’t expect closure. Because this Teporocho (Hobo), will still be wandering through the streets.