Q&A: Filmmaker Isaac Ezban talks “THE SIMILARS”Movies/TV,News Ken W. Hanley
In today’s media landscape, far too many projects rely on the importance of nostalgia within their audience. Yet for some projects, nostalgia itself can be the building blocks of something truly fantastic, such in the case of Isaac Ezban’s THE SIMILARS. Pulling from classic sci-fi/horror hybrids of the ‘60s, especially THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Ezban is able to fully realize an original vision that feels respectful to its inspirations while firing on all cylinders in its own right. With the film now on VOD, FANGORIA caught up with Ezban to talk about THE SIMILARS, independent filmmaking, and his next film, PARALLEL…
FANGORIA: How did you first come up with the idea for THE SIMILARS?
ISAAC EZBAN: I wanted to make a homage to the classic sci-fi of the ‘60s. I always say this film is like a love letter to the sci-fi of the ‘60s, and like any love letter, it’s written with a lot of passion. I wanted to make a homage to the classic human psychological sci-fi that has inspired me so much.
FANG: The film certainly has a social/political message behind it regarding the history of the Mexican government. Why was that important to include, as a storyteller?
EZBAN: Part of my homage to that classic sci-fi was including a social/political commentary, I believe great sci-fi always has [commentary], and it’s very common to see that in North American sci-fi (For example, a UFO coming down, but it’s actually a metaphor for the situation of the world in the 60s, like The Cold War, etc). With THE SIMILARS, I wanted to do that but in Mexico, where the ‘60s was a big time for social changes, with the Tlatelolco massacre and the fear that all authorities (government, work and family) wanted to make us all into the same person. With that in mind, I decided it would be cool a film where literally everyone becomes the same person.
FANG: The film also certainly pays homage to THE TWILIGHT ZONE, with the narration and the atmosphere. Was that intentional? If so, were there any specific episodes that inspired THE SIMILARS?
EZBAN: Yes, I´m obviously very affected by TWILIGHT ZONE, although at some point, not all my films will be so closely homaging something. But since THE SIMILARS will be the one that will do it the most,I went all the way (music, esthetic, narrator, etc). Some of the episodes that inspired me the most are MIRROR IMAGE, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER, and IT’S A GOOD LIFE.
FANG: THE SIMILARS has an incredibly impressive production design and scale. What was the shooting experience like on this picture?
EZBAN: It was incredible to be able to build all the bus station in a stage. Making a film is like building a new world, and we were literally building one here, and a very layered and textured one, at that. It’s amazing to create a world that only existed only in my head before.
FANG: Without giving away too much about the film’s great twist, what were the conversations like regarding the make-up FX on the film?
EZBAN: It was fun, creative, smart, challenging, new, and original. We did special makeup effects never before done in Mexico, so it was very, very amazing. Our actors had to go through a 4-hour make -up process every day, and we did it all practical like in the old days; no CGI, as it wouldn’t look real and it wouldn’t fit the style.
FANG: Was it liberating to make an original film that’s not exactly tied to a single genre?
EZBAN: I like films that are not specifically about one genre, but mix various ones or where one genre becomes another one.
FANG: What was the most important lesson you learned as a filmmaker during the production of THE SIMILARS?
EZBAN: The importance of great planning, great pre-production, great actors, a clear idea and great screenplay but, overall, a great team. That’s the most important thing and the most important lesson learned: the importance of teamwork. If someone is not a fan of teamwork, that’s someone who you don’t want to make movies with.
FANG: The film also ties into THE INCIDENT, your first film which has sadly yet to be released in the U.S.. Are you attempting to create a connective world between your films? Will this film connect in any way to your upcoming film PARALLEL?
EZBAN: Yes, of course. It will happen… but I can’t say more about it for now…
Isaac Ezban’s THE SIMILARS is now available on VOD from XLrator Media.