FREAKY FRIDAY: An Interview with Director Marcos Codas

FoF: First and foremost, tell us about yourself. 
Hiya! My name is Marcos Codas and I’m a Paraguayan-Canadian multimedia producer. I was born in Paraguay, raised in Canada, and have been working in multimedia for over two decades. I’m a huge fan of horror films and platforming video games. I am an indie filmmaker and game developer, and I also write for a few gaming, geek and film publications. I currently live in Paraguay with my wife and three dogs. I’m a huge proponent of positivity as a force for change.

FoF: What do you do? And why do you like it?
Most days, I work on corporate advertising. I own a boutique multimedia studio where I develop advertising material for companies and educational institutions. I love what I do because I can work from home, see my wife and my dogs most of the day, and I don’t answer to a “boss”. In my spare time, I write about films and games, or make films and games (or play and watch games and films). I live a very fortunate life now. It wasn’t always that way, but that’s a story for a different time.

FoF: Explain a little bit of your process? Where do you find your inspiration?

I’m very methodical about the stuff that I do. I like working with constraints because I always know what resources I have at hand. They always say “think outside the box”, but I disagree. I like having a box that I can color in fully, rather than have some stray splats all over the canvas. That said, it does help that I’m the one building the box in the first place! If I’m working on a film, for example, I’ll have spreadsheets breaking down every scene, every piece of wardrobe used, every prop, the equipment that’ll go into filming that scene, and storyboards as well to give my DP an idea of what I want the shot to look like. I was in the army so I think a lot of my love for structure and order comes from that.

I find inspiration in things that give me joy. It can be a particular level within a video game, or a particular art style, or a scene in a film. I can also draw inspiration from life itself. The first ever video game I developed, I developed because I wanted to share video games with my nephew and there weren’t any wholesome games on the Android store that were free and without ads. So I made one!

FoF: What drew you to horror in the first place? 

I think it comes down to childhoold and teenage years. My brother told me to go a little-known film in 1999, when I was on vacation with my family. I dragged my dad, who snored through the whole film, to a dingy theater in Uruguay to watch “The Blair Witch Project”. The sense of immediacy between the actions on the screen and the way they reached me… without feeling scripted or put-upon, really changed my perception of the genre, and would go onto influence my own filmmaking as well.

FoF: What is your favorite horror work? (Movie, Show, Art, Book, whatever you want) 

“The Blair Witch Project” for sure. Not only did it show a path for future indie filmmakers in terms of what could be achieved with a limited budget, but it also broke the barrier between actions and audiences by removing a lot of filmmaking paraphernalia. There were still film directors and editors involved, but for those days they stayed in the woods, the protagonists were basically alone. That method of pushing for realism really draws me into the pieces I enjoy, even when they are not found footage.

FoF: What has been your favorite thing you have gotten to work on doing this? 

While I adore my own work (in particular “Kurusu Serapio”, the horror short I wrote and directed), the past year I’ve been fortunate enough to be the official Latin-American localiser for a couple of really cool RPG video games. Storytelling and video games have hugely influenced me over the years, and seeing my name on a game released on major consoles was definitely a professional highlight of the past few years.

FoF: Can you tell me a bit more about what Kurusu Serapio is?

Kurusu Serapio is an actual place. The place you see depicted there is the actual place in real life. It’s an unofficial grotto to a folk saint. It’s said that he died a wrongful death and was later avenged by divine forces. The grotto was erected where his tomb supposedly was. Serapio Barrios (the person whose name the grotto takes) supposedly grants favors and requests to his devotees. It’s a very cool story, there are different versions of how he died, too. Truth is, the place is very real, and so is the devotion people have towards Serapio. Kurusu means “cross” in guaraní, the aboriginal language of Paraguay. This place was located a few hundred meters from my grandparents’ house. I was always told to stay away from it growing up. That’s where I got the inspiration from, to have this gathering, this coven, if you will, of occultists. That’s what Camila (the character) was born into. 

FoF: Tell me more about the Paraguayan folklore you draw on in the short film and what role, if any, does Paraguayan mysticism and pajé still play in the country?

Well, aside from the local legend of Kurusu Serapio, I also draw on “pajé”, which is the aboriginal witchcraft of certain guaraní tribes. The idea is that you imbue an object with the power to do evil onto another person. There are witchdoctors today in Paraguay who will perform pajé for you, either to cause harm onto other people, or to have someone fall in love for you, or all manner of things. This is still very much alive and well in Paraguay still, as are other types of mysticism laced with slight tints of religiousness. It goes on every day. 

FoF: How was the filming process for this?

It was really methodical, as I mentioned before. I began writing it when I was still in Canada. Pre-production took the best part of 18 months, between polishing the script (which went through over a dozen drafts), casting, getting the right crew together, etc. We then filmed for 2 days, in 14-hour chunks, in two cities. Definitely overly-ambitious for a short film, but we managed well thanks to the planning that went on beforehand. Then I did the post-processing myself over a period of 4 months, and we premiered the film at the Asunción International Film Festival, the biggest and oldest film festival in Paraguay. It was tremendously exciting, very scary, and one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. 

FoF: What are your future plans for this, in terms of release?

The film’s being distributed online by From the 3rd Story Productions, based in the UK. It’s on Amazon, Vimeo, Screambox and Roku (please see links attached to the previous email) as part of the “Chunks of Horror” compilation, alongside 6 other (great!) films. We’re negotiating a DVD release as part of another compilation now. 

We’re also working on a comic book prequel (which is about 80% finished) and a video game sequel (which is about 30% done) to round off the “Kurusu Serapio” trilogy. The prequel will tell the story of how Camila was born into the coven and how she acquired her powers, and the sequel will follow up the events of the film. We hope to have them both done within the next 12-18 months. 

FoF: What role do you think your specific style of art/work plays in the community overall?

For Paraguay, it is essentially the only way for a lot of us to express. Paraguayan society is very hard right/conservative catholic, so people who enjoy things like horror films or heavy metal or video games get relegated to the sidelines. Even people fighting for equality have only just been able to create pieces where they show equality, or the aspiration to equality, to take place. Art is a huge driver of change, and seeing oneself represented in a piece of art, be it film, music or games or anything, can be tremendously inspirational for people who are relegated to the sidelines of society.

FoF: Anything you are working on that you want to highlight? 

My horror short “Kurusu Serapio” is now available on
Scream Box

Watch it and tell me what you think on social media!

FoF: Anything else you’d like to say/add?

Thank you for the opportunity to share my work and thoughts! Keep working on independent art, whatever you do, wherever you are. You never know who you’ll touch with your work. And even if you don’t even release it, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, isn’t it?

I want to thank Marcos for coming on here and talking about his film and his creative methods, You can follow him on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

You can find our review on Kurusu Serapio right here. I highly recommend it and it’s only currently $.99 cents. Support indie filmmakers and support independent and foreign horror!

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