Jose Andres Ramirez Ortiz is Mexican independent filmmaker known as Andres Ramirez. While growing in the world of cinema and literature, Andres started writing short stories. Later on in his life he moved on to Monterrey, Mexico where writing and filmmaking became more important on his life.
Mark, a recently promoted Police Detective, finds himself interrogating Charley, a brilliant deceptive photographer, about the disappearances of young models, as the photographer was the last person to see them alive.
CULT CRITIC: Hello Sir. Welcome to Cult-Critic Magazine. Hope you are doing great. I read your bio where it is mentioned that you are Writer. How did the passion for filmmaking grow within yourself?
Andres – Ever since I was a kid, I enjoyed reading a lot of books. Many of the books I read were later made into movies. I grew up with franchises such as Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Growing with these influences made me get attracted to storytelling. For me, filmmaking is the perfect combination of storytelling and visuals. Later in my life, as I started taking film classes at high school, I started directing, and I just ended up enjoying the meaningful collaborations that one has while telling a story.
CULT CRITIC: What is your favorite genre for filmmaking?
Andres – I don’t really have one in particular as I love film as a medium. However, I have a sweet spot for fantasy action films like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings as those were very important franchises for me to feel in love with cinema, and it’s my ultimate dream to direct one of this movie. However, as a filmmaker, I am interested in trying every genre as I have experimented with celluloid film, romances, dramas, musicals, and even VR filmmaking.
Cult Critic: How was the filming experience? Are you professionally trained? Was there a script?
Andres – Yes, I earned an Associative Degree from Vancouver Film School, and I am currently studying Film and TV Production at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. This project was born as an extracurricular film while as a student. Directing this film was a challenge because I dealt with a reduced budget and some school support. There was a script that I wrote and was the backbone of the story. During production, I usually try to respect the script as much as possible. My approach to directing is grabbing the subtext elements from the script and dragging the character’s motivations and thematic elements from the film while giving certain freedom to the actors, so they feel safe to improvise and provide something unique. The filming experience was excellent and fun. Like most sets, there was some stress that challenged us to find some creative solutions to solve some problems.
CULT CRITIC: Please share the feelings you had after you became the Winner of CCMA?
Andres – It’s an honor to have our film recognized by such a prestigious film festival that is also tied by the Film Society of Lincoln Center that further allows us to share our film with Indian audiences. We were also very surprised to be recognized not only with one but with five top tier awards, including Best Directing, Cinematography, and Outstanding Achievement Award for Best Short Film. It is truly an honor, and we are truly thankful for this recognition.
CULT CRITIC: Tell us more about Mark & Charley, their importance in your film.
Andres – They are essential to the story, as they are the main characters. Charley represents how far we willing to go to consume art without questioning the ethical process behind it, as he literally kills for it and is praised by it. On the other hand, Mark, who was recently promoted as a Detective, represents the naiveness and lack of experience as he searches for truth and justice. In the end, I thought it was exciting to see him realize that the world is much more corrupt and that maybe he
needs to adapt to what is required to do the right thing. Untimely, one of the goals was to express the meaning of art and the power of a camera. The killing represents figuratively the impact that one image can have on one person and in society. Lastly, I tried to express the obsession, desire, and self- destruction patterns the main character has in pursuing pure artistry.
CULT CRITIC: Brilliantly you put the character of Yhana Sibelle ,do you think this character make your film more prominent?
Andres – First, I would like to congratulate Yhana for Jane’s portrayal. She did a wonderful job, and I was incredibly lucky to have the wonderful opportunity to have her trust. I couldn’t be happier for the recognition and accolades that she has received for portraying Jane. So that said yes, I think that the film becomes more prominent. Similarly to Charley, Jane represents the naive artist’s self-destruction and willingness to do whatever in the name of art, without questioning the morality of it. Ultimately, all she wants is to find success as a model, despite her inexperience. Most of my decisions were thoroughly talked with Yhana. One example of this was her costume choices. In the script, the only costume description written was the blue riding cape. All the other elements and outfits were chosen in conjunction with Yhana to give Jane a naive dreamer feel and ultimately make her as authentic as possible.
CULT CRITIC: Tell us some memorable/ funny incidents during the shooting.
Andres – Like I mentioned, we had some problems that required us to find creative solutions. One of these resulted in a very funny story. On the second day of shooting, one of our actors did not make it because of illness. This led me to rewrite a couple of scenes, and I ended casting our brilliant Assistant Director, Lou Gomez, to interpret a model in the film.
CULT CRITIC: What do you think, what will be the impact of ‘Shutter’ on Indian audience who are much comfortable in watching Masala Movies (Spice Movies) of Bollywood?
Andres – First, I hope that all audiences enjoy and feel entertained watching the film. I hope that the film challenges their perception of a camera’s power, how a picture can “kill” and untimely learn or appreciate something new about the medium.
Regarding the film’s complexity and how different it might be to Masala Movies, I believe that audiences seek powerful and engaging stories and are much more open to foreign films.
A perfect example could Bong Joon-ho’s “Parasite” globally acclaimed. In many ways, I believe that globalization is bringing us together and accepting different cinematic perspectives. All it takes is for us to read the subtitles and watch new films. Just as Bong Joon-ho said, ‘Once you overcome the one- inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”
CULT CRITIC: If you were given a chance to remake ‘Shutter’ which is the area you would like to rectify?
Andres – I believe filmmaking is a continuous learning process. After every project, there are lessons learned to apply later in your career. I also believe that it is natural to feel some remorse and guilt, thinking that you could have done something differently, and perhaps that could have led to something better. With Shutter, I had that feeling when I had to rewrite those two scenes in production, meaning less time to shot coverage for other scenes. This led me to difficult postproduction that took more than a year to complete while thoughts around reshooting kept coming to my mind. Some of the lessons learned are to be creative to overcome obstacles, trust your crew, rehearse, rehearse, rehearse, and have a plan B. At the end day, I am happy with the final result: it made me a better editor, producer, and director, it also brought me closer to my collaborators, and most important of all, it connected with audiences.
Cult Critic: Now we have come to the ending of our conversation. I would like to end by asking you on last question. What are your plans ahead? This is a hard time. So, what do you want to work on next?
Andres- As an independent filmmaker and low budget, this pandemic has paused all near-future production plans both within my academic and independent environments. On the positive side, I have been using this time to write stories, practicing with new technologies like VR, and taking my photography hobby to further new experimental narratives. Despite my school offering limited productions at this moment, I am waiting for a sense of normalcy to have a “safer” investment in my next project.
I am looking forward to continuing with “Shutter’s” successful festival run, hoping that restrictions ease, allowing us to attend more screenings around the world. I am also currently developing my next short film with the hopes of shooting in 16mm. For the long term, I am also developing film and tv series ideas that will hopefully lead me to direct my first feature film.