Renegade Interview: Rene Perez, ‘The Burning Dead’

The Burning Dead
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Rene Perez has a long history of doing fun, fantastical genre films – his latest is no exception. Due for release next month via Uncork’d Entertainment, The Burning Dead is a ridiculously fun horror romp that pits Danny Trejo and Tom Downey against the living dead. And yes, there’s as much laughs as there is lava.

This is the first film you’ve directed that you haven’t written. How did that happen?

The Producer (Jeff Miller) already had a great script (that he had written with Jason Ancona) that was ready to shoot. So I was hired on just as the Director and Cinematographer.

Is it more difficult bringing someone else’s story to the screen?

It certainly is. But difficult tasks aren’t things to be avoided.  In this case, I was doing a more light hearted kind of movie than I’ve ever done before.  But that’s also what made it interesting.

Was Danny Trejo attached pre-financing or did he come on later? I imagine his name would definitely help bump up the appeal to investors?

We approached his agent after we had financing, but we knew it would help the appeal of the film. Either way we were going to have a recognizable in the film, we were just lucky enough to get our first choice.

How many of the other cast members did you select yourself? Were they all the rest of auditions?

Most of them were actors who auditioned. I told the producer which actors I preferred based on the audition tapes. Then it fell to the producer to negotiate with the actors.  In the end, what surprised me the most was how good all of the actors turned out to be. Even the few that I didn’t choose turned out to be great. Thanks in great part to our casting director Mark Sikes.

‘They’ say horror or science-fiction films are generally an easier sell to distributors. Was that your experience on this one?

Usually yes, but at the moment the market is over flooded with Horror and Sci-Fi indie films so I’d have to say no. Unfortunately I like making horror and sci-fi movies so I’ll continue on doing what I do even if it’s a little crowded out there. And what’s worse is, according to the statistics, only about 4% of all indie films get picked up by a distributor, and then even fewer make a profit, so it’s a crazy business to be in regardless

How much of the film’s effects were practical vs. CGI?

I like using practical FX. Period. Of course when it comes to erupting volcanoes you have to go with CGI. So the supernatural and volcano scenes were CGI and the blood and guts were mainly all practical FX. But I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the CGI Volcano eruptions. They turned out very well.

Does VOD open doors for independent film, in your opinion?

VOD is like any other platform in show business.  The best Business man will always come out on top . Most film makers are artistic people and not very business minded.  Myself included. So if an indie film maker has a good business partner, then he or she will do well with all of the vendors.  But it’s not as if VOD is some kind of open and fair showcase. It’s just more of the same.  Just like with music. Everyone thought that the internet would help unknown musicians get a shot but it’s all about which artists have the best company backing and press agents. It’s the same with VOD and filmmakers. And there are some really good films on VOD which get lost in the shuffle and are practically impossible to find.

Is there a potential sequel in the works?

I think this is a standalone movie but the writers are pretty inventive so they might have something up their sleeves.

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About the Author

Shawn S. Lealos
Shawn is a film critic with over 25 years of experience in print and online media. He is a member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle and loves everything from critically acclaimed movies to B-level action flicks.
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