8 Questions with……..director/producer/studio owner Joe Lujan

Its 7:11 pm
cold and snowy
Welcome to another 8 Questions with……interview.  A few weeks ago,I reviewed a movie called “Rust” which was written and directed by our next guest Joe Lujan.
When I looked at his background and read about his accomplishments,I knew I had to talk with Joe. Not only does Joe have 67 films,both short and feature length,but he owns his own production company,Carcass Studios.  Where he finds time between film projects to also produce new hot musical talent Chris Ivan and do it during a pandemic is simply amazing.  In looking at at what Joe has done pretty much by himself reminds me of another Texas based filmmaker who also does everything on his own and that would be Robert Rodriguez who also runs his own studio. But that is where the comparsion ends as Joe has blazed his own path in his hometown of El Paso,Texas.
  “Rust” was the first film I watched of Joe’s and while I liked several aspects of the film,I knew I was going to ask him a hard question about the film and a scene that I wanted him to address. Most filmmakers would have either refused to answer or bail from the interview but as Joe has faced tough obsticles during his life and overcome them,I knew he would give me a honest and thoughtful answer and he didn’t let me down.He addressed the question as a professional and explained his thought process in writing about the scene that raised a few eyebrows.
  As for his creative drive,how about creating your own comic book and then taking it a step further and making a film trilogy based on it called “The Immortal Wars” and drawing an Oscar nominated actor and superhero fan Eric Roberts in the fun? With all this going on,you think Joe would deserve a serious vacation,right? Nope,he ended up doing this interview while releasing Chris Ivan’s new music video and finishing his newest labor of love,”Billy”.
I really hope you enjoy reading Joe’s interview as much as I did in talking with Joe about himself and his fast rising career.

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your current project. 
My Name is Joe Lujan. I am a film director and writer. I have been in the industry for almost 18 years. I’ve created the “Atelophobia” films, the “Rust” Trilogy, and “The Immortal Wars” franchise which is based off my comic series “The Vanquishers“. Currently we are prepping the release of the next installment titled “The Immortal Wars: Rebirth” and we are in the final production days of “Billy” the feature film.

 How have you been handling the pandemic? How have you been staying busy and creative?
The pandemic has definitely been a challenge as it has been for the entire world. But like everyone else we had to evolve. We have continued to create while obeying Covid regulations. Safety is key first !! It isn’t very hard for me to stay creative. My mind is constantly on the go with concepts and ideas. It’s sometimes a bad thing *lol*.

What has been the most difficult part about trying to film during this time?

One of the most difficult things has been going back to rewrite scenes a lot of times just so we can condense the amount of people on set at a time. Many of us have had to wear multiple hats while onset – again to keep the number of people low.

 I read in a recent interview about your rough times growing up El Paso,Texas,you endured a lot of negative
incidents in your early years,it could have been easy to give up and join the crowd,what led you to stand your ground and stay creative and artistic? Was there a book or a film that you took comfort in to help you maintain that part of you?

Yea, high school was rough, I found myself keeping it in unfortunately. I wish I had spoken to someone about everything that was going on. Instead I would write everything down in journals and I would dive into art. Drawing, writing, editing lol. I remember I had 2 VCR’s and I would record the screen of me playing Resident Evil and then make a movie from that footage. Basically I would play one VHS in one VCR and record on the other. *lol* It was a wicked set up. I believe I was 15 or 16 years old at that time. As far as finding that comfort, it was watching my favorite films. I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream, and Wrong Turn. I would lose myself in those films and dream that one day I would make films like that. I would just keep moving, dreaming, and soon began to create my own films.
 How did you get your start in the film business? How did you learn to direct films?
Did or does El Paso have a film community?

I was always fascinated with filmmaking just every detail of the process of making a film was intriguing. I wasn’t set on that being my career path I was set on pursuing a career as a veterinarian. Then one day my older sister took me to watch the 1st “Resident Evil” film and that changed everything,since then I was obsessed with filmmaking. Soon after I would shoot a short film with family members and friends and then get feedback, use what I learned and input that to the next film the following weekend. I eventually learned more and more on what to do, what not to do *lol*. I did attend community college in El Paso and studied Media production Technology. When I lived in El Paso I didn’t really know if there was a film community to be honest. I’m sure there was but I never really felt like there was. Now I do know there is a fantastic film community in El Paso. There are so many talented creators in El Paso. I wish I had experienced that when I lived there.

 Talk about your movie “Twisted Forest” and what it represents to you as a film director?

WOW I haven’t heard that title in a minute lol 10, 11 years to be exact . To me it represents fun. I made those films with my family during our camping trips to Ruidoso NM. lots of laughs and good times. Honestly,it just brings back so many good memories or a more simple life *lol*. As a director it brings me back to how to enjoy the creating process. To just have fun and take in every moment. Every moment of all three of those films *haha*.

 What led you to start your own production company,Carcass Studios?
What have you learned about running your own studio? What three moments have made you the happiest
since you started Carcass?

I first started off creating short films as a tool to learn and work on the craft. After creating almost 100 short films it felt right to brand everything and from then on out I would add to the collection. I have learned so much but most of all I learned that nothing can keep me from creating what I want to create. Carcass Studios can tell a story however which way we want and at the same time help those who want to be a part of the creative process to give them credits for their resume. Basically give others the opportunities I never got when I was starting off. I know this might sound a bit cheesy but I feel the happiest everytime I complete a project. Just know all the hard work the blood sweat and tears that was put into each project was all worth it and now the finished product is a result of sticking to it. But the biggest and happiest moments that always stick to me would be the moment I walked into a Walmart to the entertainment section and seeing The Immortal Wars on the shelf right next to huge studio films. Inside the little dreamer from El Paso Tx was screaming with happiness. My dream of one day seeing my films on those shelves had come true.

 I recently watched your horror film “Rust” and really thought you created a memorable villain in Travis
but was disappointed in seeing yet another rape scene in a horror film. Why did you feel you needed to add that scene?
Do you feel rape scenes are becoming a crutch into today’s horror films?

So Rust was a concept that I created to tell a story that would bring all the elements on how a road trip with friends could go wrong. Each element in the trilogy was inspired by my fears and topics that made me very uncomfortable but that needed to be seen to show that this shit does happen. The rape scene was a very rough scene for me to shoot just cause that situation was fucked up. Its a topic that many don’t like to talk about. It’s not right and people need to know that acts like these do happen. Horror to me is a broad term. Horror can mean different things to everyone. Being stalked, Being hunted down, torture,  death, different things can be horrifying to different prople. That’s why I wrote that scene in the film.
What was the reason you filmed “Rust” in two parts? How hard was it to edit the two films together?

Rust started off as a short film I was going to shoot with friends. We shot the entire first film in less than 6 hours. I was under the impression that 6 hours was all the time we had in the location and we did it. I was soon told we could have had more time if I had asked lol. I submitted the short to film festivals and the viewers wanted to see more of “Killer” Travis so the following year we shot Rust 2. The films were actually just cut together for Distribution purposes but they are considered 2 separate chapters in the trilogy.  

What is the most important aspect about making a film to you…. story,budget or cast? 

I will be honest and say each one of those elements are just as important for a film. With no story we wouldn’t have an idea of what the budget would be and we wouldn’t know what type of actors we would need to cast. Each department supports each other without them it can be difficult. There are times when there is no budget really. At that point you utilize what you have and complete the project the best of your ability. At least that’s how I’ve completed some of my films lol.

 Now that you have established yourself and your studio,has it become easier to attract actors like Eric Roberts
to your projects? 

It has helped in the sense that actors with key names show interest, if they see we have completed films that have been distributed internationally. There are still steps to take when casting big names like Roberts but yes it has help in a way.
Where did the idea for “The Immortal Wars” come from and what was your favorite superhero growing up?
The Immortal Wars is based off characters from a cinematic universe I created called the Ravage Reign Universe. I created a universe that includes over 115 characters. It’s a world that focuses on survival and the fight for justice in all aspects. This Universe includes The Immortal Wars franchise, The Vanquishers & Trikalypse Comic books, Immortal Legends, and Dekay’s Paradox TV Series.
Growing up I was always watching X-Men EVERYTHING! *lol* I am obsessed with the X-Men world and my all time favorite Hero is The Phoenix/ Dark Phoenix. She is such a complex and bad ass character.

  Where do you want to take Carcass Studios in the next 10 years??
In 10 Years I see Carcass Studios still creating and helping upcoming creators. Giving everyone equal opportunities to tell their stories.

 What makes you happy?

What makes me happy?… my family… creating… and the memories of everything i have had to overcome. It’s a reminder of knowing nothing is easy and as long as you continue to fight for what you want it is possible.

The cheetah and I are flying out to check out your newest film’s premiere but we’re a day early and now you
have to play tour guide,what are we doing? 

I would definitely have you attend an El Paso premiere and I would show you the beauty of El Paso. The culture and unity my home town has is just inspiring and the food, Chico’s Tacos, Track One, so many amazing places to eat. The view from scenic drive, the arts district, the Plaza Theater, Los Lagartos, and possibly catch a Chihuahua game. El Paso is home and any chance I can I have to go back ❤

I like to thank Joe for taking the time to chat with with us and I know he’ll inspire a LOT of future filmmakers,actors,actresses and artists to keep chasing that dream. Personally,I think anyone who inspires to create,live a good life and be an example of the possibilties that can be had with hard work,honesty and grit like Joe Lujan as done is alright with me.
  The cheetah and I picked up another one of Joe’s films and we’ll be reviewing it soon….


Joe is is very active on social media and you can follow him on his various platforms.
Joe’s personal website can be found by clicking here.
See what what is coming up next by following Joe’s IMDb page.
You can follow Joe on his InstaGram page.
You can see what is going and buy past releases at Carcass Studios.
You can join Joe’s Facebook page.
Check out Carcass’s YouTube channel by clicking here.
Connect with Joe via Twitter.Thank you for supporting this interview with Joe Lujan and if you are new to the blog,we have over 110 more interviews you can read as well…..feel free to leave a comment!!!

 

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