Interview by Carl Marsh - March 2015
I know about you and your work, but can you give the readers a brief synopsis about yourself?
Born and raised in Madrid, Spain. Went to University here, then I did my masters in Denmark, and then another Master in Los Angeles.
I have been here in LA for 6 years. Worked my butt off shooting all I could, crewing for anyone possible. I started as a Director of Photography as I didn't really have money to pay for my own projects. Worked a lot. Learned a great deal from some great directors I worked with. One day I decided that it was time to tell stories that I want to tell… So I opened my own company.
How did you get into this type of work, and was it always your ultimate goal to make movies?
Since a very early age, I have always been a devourer of books. I love reading. It allowed me to live adventures, go to places that I would never be, and meet amazing characters whom I wouldn't meet any other way. It was then when I realised that I wanted to tell stories, one way or another. It was not until I was 15-16, when I came across movie making as the way to tell those stories. Since then, I have dedicated all my time, love, and resources, to make it happen.
I watched one of your latest films ‘TELL’ on Netflix recently, I really enjoyed that, for me it was a cross between ‘Pulp Fiction’ and ‘Reservoir Dogs’ and ‘Breaking Bad’; it must have been a lot of fun making it, and would you be working with any of the actors like Milo again?
Oh! I am very humbled that you would even find similarities to those movies, as they are awesome, and I love them. We really had a lot of fun making it. And I would definitely would work with Milo again. He is a great person, and collaborator.
Are there any funny stories from when you made that film?
There a numerous of them, (laughing). Some of them might not be PG…. But lets say that we were all able to create a great environment and a sense of camaraderie that allowed a little fun to be had on set.
I know you are involved in ‘Helicopter Mom’ with Salome Breziner, and I hear that is getting released very soon, can you tell me how this project came to be, and more importantly, what it is all about?
Yes, yes, ‘Helicopter Mom’… A friend of mine, Derek Tran sent me the script that his little brother (Duke Tran) wrote for his UCLA writing program…. And I loved it. It was raw, fresh, and really great. I decided to make the movie, and I tried to find perfect director that would fit with the story and how I wanted to tell it. I have worked with Salome a few years back, and I gave her a call. She was great, she was passionate and we saw the movie eye to eye. So we made this movie together. (And of course with George Voskericyan and Stephen Israel, the rest of the producing team). The movie is really fun. About a teenager who is undecided about his sexuality, and how his mom “outs” him to the whole school! The movie has played really great in festivals, and it's coming out in theatres (cinema’s) and VOD on April 24th 2015.
Ethan Embry - I know he is in another film you are involved with called ‘Echoes of War’, and I am a big fan of him and his work. So what was he like?
I really love Ethan too, sadly, I did not have too much interaction with him. ‘Echoes of War’ shooting happened at exactly the same time that ‘Helicopter Mom’ did, so I could only go there for a weekend. And thats the funny thing… that then I have looked at him for months during post production, but not having much contact with him directly in person.
Of all the actors, and there are plenty of big names that you have worked with! Who has been the one that you have always dreamt of working with, and did they live up to your expectations when you met and worked with them?
Working with Milo was awesome, but probably the most excited I was, was with Jason Lee. I grew up watching Kevin Smith movies, and… well… He is in them. And yes, Milo and Jason… they both exceeded any expectations I had. They are both great guys and great actors.
Who would you love to work with, in case you have not done already?
There are a lot of people that I have been fan of. I love Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, Tom Cruise… There are so many exciting filmmakers and actors out there. Little by little, I hope to get to work with some of them.
What can we expect from you in the near future, say the next 12 months or so?
We made 4 feature films in the last year. ‘TELL’ (which came out December 2014), ‘Helicopter Mom’ (comes out April 24th 2015), ‘Echoes of War’ (comes out May 14th) and ‘Grass Stains’ (which is in post still). We are currently chasing the rights of a few great stories, and developing this in house with my company - Lunatic Films.
You must read a lot of books, scripts, etc…, so for you, it must be the norm, but as you know, I like to encourage more to read via this website, so why do you think people should read more?
I love reading. I make movies because of my love for books. I read daily. Its either books, or scripts. There are very few things greater and more nurturing than reading. And one of the greatest things about reading… is that the more you read… the better it gets. Because the faster you read, and the more effortless it becomes. When I was in Europe, I used to have a commute of over an hour in the train. I read everyday 2 hours. I miss it a lot, as now that I live in LA I have to drive everywhere.
Still talking books, what is your favourite book, and why is that?
I’m glad you ask - My favourite book, well it’s got to be the Miles Vorkosigan Saga. The first book (non-chronological) it’s The Warriors Apprentice, and it was written by Lois MacMaster Bujold, an extraordinary writer from Ohio. I find them amazing. The prose is wonderful. The stories are complex and exciting, I would call it a Space Opera. And the characters…. Oh, the characters… They are all memorable.
The book follows the story of Miles Vorkosigan, who never backs down from a challenge and whose main weapon are his wits and his intelligence. I hope I can make the film eventually. I emailed Louis and she was great getting back to me.
What advice could you offer anyone that wishes to start with a career in the movie industry like you have?
Be ready to work, and to fight. This industry will not miss you, so you have to find a place for yourself, doing what you like, and keep working. Keep creating. I love what I do, but I have worked for every inch and for everything. And good luck.
I know you have worked on different genres of movies but which do you prefer?
I love stories, and I love characters. For me, genres are the wrapping to the story. I love coming of age stories. I feel ‘Helicopter Mom’ is. ‘TELL’ might as well be, and ‘Grass Stains’ is too. I life sci-fi, I love comedy, I enjoy crime… But I do not see myself just making them. Also as a producer, I have the ability to partner with great filmmakers who see the world differently, and grow by collaboration with them.
To end, and since you can sit quite comfortably in both a producers or directors chair; so if you J.M.R. Luna were an animal, what would it be, and why?
Thats a very good question. I just asked my Creative Executive, Jonathan Ahmadi, and he said a Rat… Because I'm smart and I am a survivor. But I don't think its too flattering (laughing). So I am going to go for an Eagle, for some reason… It makes me feel better (laughing). As I like seeing thing from above, so I can have a critical understanding of the world we live in.
Occupation: Director / Producer