Interview with RBTM Director Gabriel L Zavala Jr.

_DSC4520

1. Your film takes place during the second-wave-2-Tone Ska movement that occurred in southern California during the mid 1980’s . What inspired you to make this film?

I was on an extended-family vacation on the beaches of Cancun Mexico.  My brother Oliver and I were enjoying some cocktails and reminiscing about when we were kids.  We used to share a bedroom and so naturally he witnessed my adolescent transition from geeky-nerd to copacetic “Rudeboy” – much like the main character in this film.

He was only 10 at the time and I was about 15, but his recollection of the era was so vivid and detailed we found ourselves just laughing and reliving all the crazy stunts I used to pull with my scooter friends. It left me yearning for those days – the fashion, the music, the 80’s.

The seed was definitely planted.  We began formulating ideas for a screenplay based on my true-life experiences.

At the time, I had been working as a recording engineer for over 10 years and began shooting and editing video for the last 5 years. I worked on hundreds of recording and video projects in every genre imaginable; both respectively at Public Recording in Brea, Ca., and Sound Matrix studios in Fountain Valley, Ca. Eventually I began shooting and directing music videos for many of the artists I’d met during recording sessions. I fell in love with this process and dreamed of becoming a director.

When I was an engineering student, it was my goal to someday work at one of the “A-List” recording studios I had read about in Mix Magazine.  I felt I was ready to make this move and I began to consider my options. I wanted to find something that could eventually lead me into film production and directing.

Before I could actually plan the move, the owner of Sound Matrix Studios propositioned me. He wanted to build a professional sound stage next to the existing rehearsal and recording facility.   He wanted me to design it and create a viable business plan.  He liked what he saw and gave me a $100,000 budget to work with.  The result was to be Orange County’s largest sound stage to date.  National touring acts like The Offspring and Avenge Sevenfold began using the facility as well as established production companies for the filming of their television and film projects.

The sound stage was so successful that I found myself occupied full-time at managing it. This left little to no time to work on any recording or film projects of my own.

I was at a crossroads. While, I was grateful to have a steady job and income, I had gotten into the business to create and develop talent. The success of the sound stage was keeping me from my dream of a becoming a film director.

In 2008 the real estate bubble burst which fueled a worldwide recession. Everybody was hit hard. My work situation had become less than desirable.  It was to time cash out my partnership shares with the company and begin working with my brother on the screenplay for Rude Boy the Movie while I figured out my next move.

Times were rough, but I knew it was going to be the only opportunity to create my own project that I could have total creative control over. Not fully knowing how hard it was going to be, I went for it!

2.  What were the challenges you faced making the film?

The first challenge was the script.  We started with index cards and began filling them out with little vignettes of things that happened to me.

Next, we had to decide from which perspective we were going to tell the story. There were so many ideas, plots, and subplots to work with.  Many characters were fused into one. We created character arcs for all of them.  This process took about a year.

My brother was able to whittle-out a great first draft. From there, we went through various re-writes and changes.

Oliver had chosen to tell the story through “Rudy Gonzalez”, a character based on my person and the bullying I went through in high school.  Rudy is transformed from a bullied teenager to a “cool” Rudeboy.

This was particularly difficult for me because he was able to put into words the torture I went through during that part of my life.  I didn’t know if I wanted my life putout there like that especially since I had let those things go long ago.  I knew I would have to revisit some of those emotions again and who knew what would happen during filming. 

After several read-throughs, and much contemplation, I knew the story had to be told.

3. How did you secure financing for the film?

After a failed kickstarter campaign, I decided to use my own money and combined it with the money my friends and family had invested. We eventually raised $10,000.

4. How did you assemble the cast and crew?

Our first attempt at assembling the cast was done by our producer Julian Camarillo. We faced a challenging task of finding talented nonunion actors.  Scouting missions consisted of several local Ska-shows, and dance clubs.

Our story takes place in Orange County, Ca. during the mid 1980‘s. It was difficult finding enough “white” extras to keep the film historically accurate.

Our next hurdle was deciding if we were going to use real teenagers or do the “Grease” thing and cast over 18 actors.

After two disastrous test shoots, we abandoned the idea of using local “civilian” actors. Instead, we began the process of holding open casting call through professional casting companies. The results were impressive we were able to chose from a much wider pool of professional actors from the greater Los Angeles area.  We did, however, managed to find a few gems from the local scene.

The crew was assembled through Craigslist ads and word of mouth.

It is my belief that the Holy Spirit above brought me the right people at the right time. There were so many times that the film was almost cancelled, that I realize there was a greater force behind me pushing me!

5. What is Rude Boy the Movie about?

Rudy Gonzalez is a Mexican American teenager, who does not find self esteem in his home life, so he goes into the streets of 1984 to find it, what he discovers is Ska.

6. How long did it take to complete the film?

From script to screen, it was a total of 5 years!  This was the hardest project my brother and I had ever worked. Ten to 16 hour days were typical. It consumed my life but I am so happy we were able to get it done.

7. What was the thought process in choosing your film locations?

To quote the song lyric by Social Distortion, “…And the pool hall I loved is now a 7-11…story of my life.”

It was important to me that even though I had a micro budget, that the film showed some beautiful exterior shots.  I knew this would be the key to making the film look bigger, believable and more authentic.

I was able to find 2 streets in Anaheim. That fit the bill and used them in the opening sequence of the movie.

I also adapted the tactic they used in “Back To The Future”. Robert Zemeckis picked the Marty’s house location because of the electrical towers behind the house – giving it an industrial timeless feel.  I was able to find two streets in Anaheim that fit the bill.  You can see them in the opening sequence of the film.

Another iconic location was Boysenberry Park in Anaheim. It has a Korean-War-Era fighter jet in the middle of the playground. It is an instantly recognizable landmark to Anaheim locals.

Finally, after being denied access to Magnolia high school by the AUHSD superintendent, we were granted permission to shoot at the most unlikeliest of places.  The very last place I thought would grant us permission to shoot was my church where I grew up.  They gave us unlimited access to their field and classrooms. The lord works in mysterious ways.  I am grateful.

8. What was your favorite part of the process?

Teaching my “Rudeboy” actors to SKANK!

Working with my good friend and producer, Julian Camarillo. It had been 30 years since we spent any time together when we were the real Rudeboys skanking the night away. I cherish the time that reunited us.

Time Traveling!  Recreating the 80’s, and visiting my old stomping grounds gave me an opportunity to reflect on where I had come from and where I was going.

9. Who was the hardest character to cast?

Rudy, of course! 

Rudy#1

I cast the first Rudy during the first round of “civilian” actors. At first he seemed very eager to please and right for the part. As rehearsals went underway he seemed to alienate himself from the troop increasingly with his “odd-flamboyant” behavior.  It got to the point to where the other actors seemed to enjoy beating him up a little too much during the scenes.  I knew  he had to go. In fact, most of them were replaced except for a handful of actors such as, Tara Pearce, Sean Cruz, and Nate Beals.

Rudy#2

We were getting very close to our deadline to begin principle photography. We still had no lead!  Josh Pudleinr auditioned for the role.  He was impressive.  He actually came in dressed as a Rudeboy. The guy had such charisma and presence.  We considered him for several days. Unfortunately, I felt he was just too tough looking for the role of Rudy but he was, however, absolutely perfect for the co-starring role of “ Paul Valley ”.

Rudy #3

With the start-date coming closer and closer, a young man who looked exactly what we were looking for, auditioned. The only thing about him was that he was raised in Mexico and had a very thick accent. I liked him because he seemed to be going through the very things Rudy would go through in this film. His father was just like mine. So close to my deadline I decided I would cast him.  I was simply going to have to coach him line by line through his dialogue. What else could I do?

Rudy #4

Exactly one day before shooting, I was at Stray Cats Vintage Clothing Store in Fullerton. We were doing a final fitting for Josh Pudleiner. His character slowly appeared before me in his long black trench coat, skinny black tie, and trademark hat. I was trying to tell him how great he looked but I could tell there was something on his mind.  He finally mustered up the courage to tell me.  There was a friend of his, Omar Montanez – He’d been acting with him since high school.  Could he please audition?  “Yeah, yeah sure…we’ll find a place for him somewhere. Sure.” I said to him. “No.”, he says.  “He’s in the car and wants to audition for Rudy.”  I will admit I was a little annoyed at the audacity of the request a day before shooting.

I kindly explained to him that at this point it would be nearly impossible to make this kind of change. But there he was, dressed in his Rudeboy clothes making his appeal to me. He held out his arms, tilted his head a little and smiled. “Come-on , Gabe.”

10 minutes later I pulled out my iphone and they ran a scene.  It was immediately apparent to me that they had major chemistry together.  Omar had been helping Josh run lines this whole time and he had  memorized the lines.  I sent the video to my brother and producer Julian.  They both overwhelmingly agreed.  After a lengthy talk with Omar and a gentlemen’s hand shake that he would complete the film, I made the hardest decision of the film and recast the role of Rudy to Omar Montanez.  It was movie-time. But first, a very difficult and remorseful phone call to the Rudy I had already cast and had to let go.

10. When will the Film be released?

We are submitting to the Sundance and Slamdance film festivals held in Utah, both festivals run in the last week of January this year. We will continue submitting our film to other key festivals through 2015. 

I have been asked hundreds of times “ when can we see the film ? “ You have to remember that this was a feature film produced on a micro budget. Countless people from our local ska & 80’s scene contributed money, time, locations, food, props & wardrobe. we had 10,000 dollars to shoot the movie and zero budget for post. lack of funding prolonged the editing and scoring but I was eventually able to finish the film this month.

The next step of the journey is to submit to film festivals, were the film can be seen by Film Distributors, the International Press and the public.

We would like the film to get a “ Theatrical Release  “ throughout the USA and abroad followed by a DVD, Blu Ray, Streaming and VOD release. We are looking for a Film Distributor that can help us achieve our goal.

We are also looking for a Record Label that can distribute the films soundtrack, filled with original music as well as classic 80’s Ska and New-Wave songs. Artists that performed on the film soundtrack include: Angelo Moore, Jack Grisham, Starpool  &  Six Feet Deep.

We want to bring this movie to the public as soon as possible. We hope that we can secure the right deal to accomplish this final task. We have 24,000 Facebook likes to date at Rude boy the Movie’s Facebook page. if you want to see the film, please support all of our Festival submissions. The fans of cult classic cinema have spoken! They want this movie!

The Future is unwritten.

Advertisements