Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pushing Comforts Out Of The Box And Into The Drama: An Interview With Indie Director Mikel D. Ledesma

MDLMikel F. Ledesma is a young director that I have come to know well to call a friend. I first came to know him when his Christmas horror “Tinsel” was released. The short film took the traditional horror concept of “slasher of the holidays” into new psychological territory, with a female lead with much more to offer to the tale than typical victim. I have since followed the progress of Ledesma as he has moved through the tough waters of indie horror. It has been a slow road toward reaching his ambitions to become one of today’s most notable indie directors, with the recent completion of two more short films accomplished, (“Losing Your Flames” and “Shattered” are in final post-production phases), Mikel is well on his way to reaching that goal.

There has been some time between the release of “Tinsel” and Ledesma’s current projects, personal reflection and educational advancement have put two projects on hold, “Man On The Roof” and “Tinsel 2” are shelved indefinitely until the time is right for those projects to be developed further. As of now Mikel Ledesma is back in school in Santa Fe, NM-and gearing up for the premiere of both “Losing Your Flames” and “Shattered” later this fall in Dallas. He has since added acting to his artistic savvy, as well as extending his genre sites into a more dramatic, socially and culturally poignant area-after completing the chilling short film “Shattered”, Ledesma attacked a more powerful-and personal story-“Losing Your Flames”. The latter film deals with social acceptance, personal conflict, and a fight that not only speaks to the LGB&T community, but to society as a whole.

LYFI interviewed Mikel Ledesma back in the spring as he was preparing for the production on his latest two short films. You can read that interview here ( Dramatic Turn Toward Realism And Art: A Conversation With Indie Director Mikel D Ledesma). Now as we edge closer to yet another holiday season (YEY!!!) Ledesma and I reconnected recently to discuss the new films, the choice to expand into drama, and the reception toward the recent release of the teaser trailer for “Losing Your Flames” in a new interview.

A Southern Life: You finally have "Losing Your Flames" in post-production and a teaser trailer was recently released.  How has the reception been thus far?
Mikel D. Ledesma: Yes, it is currently being edited. The reception has been pretty good. The teaser trailer was very vague.. Once the final trailer is released, it will blow everyone away.

A Southern Life: So when do you plan to release the full trailer?
Mikel D. Ledesma: The final trailer should hit sometime in October.

A Southern Life: And when is the premiere scheduled? Is there a specific date set yet?
Mikel D. Ledesma: Yes, November 1st, 2014.

A Southern Life: With “Losing Your Flames” you also act, you play Greg-Chris' boyfriend. How was it as both director and as one of the main roles in the film. Any challenges?
Mikel D. Ledesma: It was a very interesting role to take on, This was the first time I have directed or acted in a drama. So it was pretty stressful at first. Acting & Directing isn't easy. So it was a bit of a challenge. But it was a fun experience and wouldn't change it for the world.

A Southern Life: "Losing Your Flames" is a big departure from horror, but the story has a powerful message. Was there any issues that came along during filming, with cast or location-considering the subject matter?
1Mikel D. Ledesma: It was a huge departure from horror films, but it put me out of my comfort zone and it was a project that pushed me. I wanted to make it as realistic as possible, I wanted everything to be believable. So I hope all that comes off the screen. If the audience gets attached to the cast, and gets their emotions going. I did my job. No, the shoot went smoothly. But no matter what, you will always have a few people who are hard to please. But its a lesson learned on both parts. Other than that, the cast & crew had a great time to my knowledge. And not to mention we had a huge cast & crew. There was about 40 people a part of this movie. Which is amazing. They all helped bring this message to life.

A Southern Life: It is a great story, and considering the size of the cast and crew, one that has a lot of people's attention. Did the story ever get too personal or too intense for the cast?
Mikel D. Ledesma: There were a few scenes that did get personal to a few of us. I think the whole film in general was intense for the whole cast. It is a very intense film, and everything happens so quickly. The emotions each actor had to bring to life for their character. The actors did a wonderful job translating it all.

A Southern Life: How long does the film run? Was there ever a time when you worried that the whole story that you wanted to put out for people, wasn't going to be possible?
Mikel D. Ledesma: The movie is going to be about 35-40 minutes. Every time I start a project I begin to stress and worry if I will be able to pull it off. It was different with this movie though, we had so much support from the get go. We did have a really hard time with the casting. But, I could not be more proud of the talent I had for this film. Dalton, was a perfect fit for Chris. You know that saying "Third time's a charm." it was very true for this film. But other than the casting part, everything went smoothly.

2A Southern Life: Well congratulations on a successful shot for the film. I can't wait to see it. You also shot another short film-a thriller titled "Shattered". When can we expect a trailer for that film?
Mikel D. Ledesma: Thank You. I am excited for you to see it and review it. Yes, we shot that 2 weeks before "LYF". The trailer should make its debut soon.

A Southern Life: Now "Losing Your Flames" was written by Sara York, but "Shattered" is a Ledesma film,  closer to your horror roots than “Losing Your Flames”. What about this story made you choose to make it your next project after "Tinsel"?
Mikel D. Ledesma: Yes, Sara York is the writer for "Losing Your Flames". I went to her in early March... I believe. With the story and her writing skills just blew me away. She took the story to a different level. It was really cool to be able to collab  with an award winning author. That is correct, "Shattered" is a Ledesma  film. Written and Directed by the one and only.  I truly wanted to do something different. Especially in our DFW film scene, a film like that hadn't been done. I am the kind of artist that wants to do things that are new and fresh. And I love going out of the box, I don't like playing it safe. It's art, go all out.

A Southern Life: In many ways "Shattered" is more horror than what the description of thriller would suggest, the human pushed to monstrous limits is more terrifying than the masked killer-I think. So how dark does the film go with the characters?
s1Mikel D. Ledesma: The film is very dark. When I first started this project. I wanted the audience to feel uncomfortable. So we do push boundaries. It's a very intense film. The actors did a great job bringing their rollercoaster emotion characters to life.

A Southern Life: As a horror fan, I love for films to push my comfort level. I look forward to seeing just how far that goes with this film. How well did the cast handle the material?
Mikel D. Ledesma:  The dialog in the film will be very controversial. Matthew was excited from the jump. Scarlette,  had a issue with one line, but I explained to her why I put it in the film and she knew it made sense. But they knew how intense and crazy it got. They were still very excited to get it done. They had a blast bringing those characters to life . It will make people feel very uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable writing it.

A Southern Life: So how has the response from fans been so for toward "Shattered"? the screen shots for the film are getting great response.
Mikel D. Ledesma: Once the trailer comes out, I am sure the film will blow up! The screen shots for the film are getting great response.

s2A Southern Life: I am sure it will. The story, and images are pretty thrilling. Plus Anthony Gutierrez's camera work is so intense.
Mikel D. Ledesma: Yes, He is a very talented.

A Southern Life: Well congrats on getting this one complete as well, I can't wait to see both "Shattered" and "Losing Your Flames".
Mikel D. Ledesma: Thank You!!

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