Jul 4, 2019
Sonny Laguna is a Sweden-based
director who began his career with a number of super low budget
films (costing between $5 and $10K) with his co-director Tommy
Wiklund. He eventually got on the radar of S. Craig Zahler as he
was writing Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Zahler and the team
at FANGORIA were so impressed with Sonny & Tommy’s
resourcefulness as low budget filmmakers, that they handed them
directorial duties on Puppet Master.
We spoke to Sonny about his
career history, first few films, Puppetmaster, and his advice for
aspiring horror filmmakers. Here are Sonny Laguna’s key takeaways
for aspiring horror directors.
- Embrace your
limitations. Sonny’s first
few films were extremely low budget ($5-$10K) and had a stripped
down and gritty, low-fi look to them which worked in their favor
because it gave them a signature style and energy. While it’s
important to maximize production value, it’s also important not to
constantly fight your film’s budget.
all seen low budget movies that pretend to be high budget movies
and the result is a movie that’s disjointed and pathetic looking.
It’s better to polish what you have in front of you than to work in
vain to maximize a production value you don’t have. The low-fi look
works particularly well for horror because it feels more realistic.
The best example of this effect is in The Texas
- Write a short story every
week. This is a piece of
advice that Sonny gives frequently to directors and screenwriters
who want to sharpen their ability to tell stories. Bad scripts are
often caused by a lack of storytelling ability, writing a story
every week is a way to get bad story ideas out of your system while
sharpening your storytelling skill. So start writing.
- Start small.
A lot of filmmakers have big
elaborate scripts and complicated storylines which can be damn near
impossible to make, especially when it’s their first movie. While
it’s important to dream big, oversized and overly-complicated
projects can inhibit creativity because they overwhelm the
director. In the beginning, the most important part is getting a
project wrapped and under your belt. Sonny recommends making films
with what you have immediate access to. Robert Rodriguez &
Kevin Smith did exactly this with their first films. Start small
and gradually work your way upwards to bigger projects.
- Find a complementary
collaborator. Sonny and
Tommy both have similar sensibilities but different skill sets and
different areas of focus. Sonny typically works with the actors
while Tommy focuses on the technical aspects of directing. This is
the key to their successful partnership; having a similar
sensibility but different areas of focus. This enables you maximize
the efficiency of your collaboration while preventing
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