Monday, May 5, 2014

Dramatic Turn Toward Realism And Art: A Conversation With Indie Director Mikel D Ledesma

1Mikel D Ledesma is a young indie director with a strong presence in the horror community after receiving positive feedback for his holiday horror short film “Tinsel”. The film is one of my top 10 horror shorts and a great additive for any Christmas horror play list. I first interviewed Ledesma back in 2012 while he was promoting “Tinsel” and working on a feature film  “Man On The Roof”, that project has been shelved until a later date but is still very much a project that Mikel Ledesma intends to complete.

Currently Mikel Ledesma has a full plate keeping him going these days. He is setting out for college in the Fall and is working on two short films which will move him away from the horror genre but still very much anchored in deeply intense stories. Ledesma is in the early stages of a drama that draws from the current epidemic of suicide among the youth of today. He is also developing a thriller that focuses on a rape-retribution-moral conflict, so the guy is keeping busy. I had a chat with Mikel Ledesma about these two short films as well as some other projects in various stages. You can read that interview below.

ASouthernLife: So tell me about the first short film you are working on, what is it about?
Mikel D Ledesma: The first one is something different and something I never saw myself doing. It's not a horror film. It is actually a Drama. It is titled " Losing Your Flames" The film is about Chris the popular quarterback that is in his senior year of High School. But Chris has a secret that he knows will be life changing.

While at a party Chris's girlfriend finds out that Chris is in fact gay and has a boyfriend. She ends up taking a picture of the text he received from Greg and sent it to everyone in school. Causing Chris to get kicked out of his home, and all his best friends turning against him. And bullying him leading him down a path where he questions life.

ASouthernLife: So what drew you to the story and made you focus on a a drama film? It sounds pretty intense and very modern, was there a personal connection to the story?
Mikel D Ledesma: I always wanted to do a drama that is very modern and realistic to our generation. Bullying is a big problem with our youth. Reading about kids being bullied so much that the only resource they feel they have left is taking their life upsets me. I don't understand why we can't just accept people for who they are. Not based of their Religion, Sexual Preference, Race, etc.
So I wanted to do a film where we could relate to our youth and just send a message. So I got with award winning LGB writer Sara York and we brought my story to life with her vision and creative writing. I also wanted to try something new and show people that I can do other films other than just horror films.

ASouthernLife: It is very prevalent to the world we live in today. I find it very important for active, out people in the indie community to speak up. So I love the message that you are putting out there. Has production began on "Losing Your Flame?"
Mikel D Ledesma: Absolutely, I wanted to do this for everyone who gets bullied not just gays. But suicide is more common for young adults who are Bi/Gay/Lesbian/Transgendered. We are actually is the casting stage for the film. We want to make sure we cast the film right and the actors get the right emotions for each character.

ASouthernLife: I agree totally, the suicide rate for young people is epidemic. It has become a painful reality. So when do you expect to post casting calls?
Mikel D Ledesma: We actually posted the Casting Call today. But due to the context of the film I believe this one will be a bit harder to cast. But I am just hoping we find the right talent.

ASouthernLife: Good luck on casting, I imagine it will take time to find your Chris, Greg, and Chris' girlfriend-what is her name?
Mikel D Ledesma: Lindsay is the girlfriend and she is actually already cast. Jori Gill (Tinsel) will be playing her. And Thank You I am sure we are going to need it.

ASouthernLife: So what is the second film that you are working on?
Mikel D Ledesma: The second film is also a Drama/Thriller titled "Shattered".

ASouthernLife: The title makes me think of late night noir thrillers. Is there a psychological component to the story? What is "Shattered" about?
2Mikel D Ledesma: Unfortunately, No. It is about a Mother who's daughter gets kidnapped and the kidnapper Rapes and Kills her daughter. And the Mother captures the man who shattered her life. The film is going to be a edge of your seat thriller. What I want from this film is for the audience to question what would they do if they were face to face with the man who killed their daughter.

ASouthernLife: Wow, that sounds really dark, I like it! So how is production on "Shattered" ? Have you written the script yet?
Mikel D Ledesma:  Indeed it is. It still has a horror feel to it. But I don't feel it is a horror film. The film is written. And we actually have an idea of who I want for the cast.

ASouthernLife: There is a definite moral conflict element to the story that sounds pretty edgy. So who will play this mother in crisis and who will be her antagonist?
Mikel D Ledesma: I can't say until we have them signed on. But I promise they will do a great job. And yes when I wrote this script I wrote it as if I was the parent. And at the time when I wrote it I was on vacation when a girl from Texas was raped and killed by a 17 year old. I just amazes me how we live in such a sick world. I don't understand.

ASouthernLife: Rape is another our society's horrors that I could do without. Especially in light of the military issues that plagued the news lately. The story sounds powerful and intense. So are you working on the two short films simultaneous or consecutively?
Mikel D Ledesma: They will be shot back to back. With about 1-3 weeks break. But we have a deadline to reach. I leave for school at the end of August. And I want to have a Indie Showcase in Mid August.

ASouthernLife: Best wishes and you will have to let me know when production begins and keep me up to date on the progress. Do you plan to set up a Facebook page for the films?
Mikel D Ledesma: I will indeed keep you up to date. And I am not sure if we will have social media for these films. Just depends.

ASouthernLife: So tell me, where are things out with “Man On The Roof” and “Tinsel 2”?
Mikel D Ledesma: We have shelved “MOTR” until I finish school. I want to get more experience on how to get a budget. And I didn't just want to make it just to make it. I have very high expectations for myself and my films.

And we scrapped the whole Idea of “TINSEL II”. We tried. I wrote 8 different drafts and I just felt that it was just being made to make a sequel. So we decided not to go on with it.

ASouthernLife: Sad to hear that about “Tinsel 2” but I agree with your reason for not doing a sequel just for the sake of a sequel. Great that “MOTR” is just paused and not scrapped. It is an interesting concept and the story is fresh. So where are you going to matriculate?
Mikel D Ledesma: Yes. MOTR will be made. And everyone a part of the film can't wait to get it started. It is just something I feel that is different and not the same recycled garbage we tend to get. I will be attending Santa Fe University of Art and Design.

ASouthernLife: Well congrats and good luck in school. It can only enrich your already strong talent. Thank you for the interview.

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