Gustavo Aviles has been working in film and television since 2002. His latest film project, Twilight of Dreams: Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter, has been featured in film festivals in the United States, France, Canada, England, Mexico, Europe, Hong Kong, and other countries. The film was nominated for Best Horror at Cannes Shorts, won Best Horror at the Budapest Film Festival, Best Short at the Wallachia International Film Festival, Best Horror Film at the 4th Dimension Independent Film Festival in Indonesia, Best Surreal Short at Cult Movies International Film Festival, and received a three-day reception at the Morbido Film Festival in Mexico. Currently, Gustavo expanded the film’s narrative with his publication of Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter: The Codices vol. I, published by Anterior Books, as a two-volume graphic novel while in full production of the new film from the same material.
Gustavo's work for national network broadcast and social media platforms has been honored with fourteen PromaxBDA Awards, several New York Festival of Television and Film Awards, & Telly Awards: https://m.imdb.com/name/nm2085449/
What is the story behind your film?
Twilight of Dreams: Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter is born from a series of nightmares that began to speak to me in waking life. I realized that the stream of consciousness happening in the narrative of my memories of these nightmares began to connect the psychology of each story into the next. The language of film is dreams. It only made sense to me that my subconscious was teaching me how to drive my vision of filmmaking. So I made the film.
2. What should people take away, gain, realize after watching your film?
Twilight of Dreams is telling the audience what they choose to hear from within themselves. While it travels through a narrative, the tale takes the audience into myth, dogma, and archetypal concepts that will mean whatever the hell any individual wants it to mean. The part about Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter extends an “easy out” for anyone needing an emergency exit from the dream: you either allow your mind to enjoy the mystery or you feign outrage and storm out of the theather’s side door. Any realization you may have is about yourself.
3. Do you think that films can change people for the better or for the worse?
Film continues to change the world. Nothing will stop the power of the moving image. Only history will judge its effects on any given era.
4. What creation style did you use in the production of your project? What cameraman elements did you use?
I employ any style or techniques necessary to tell the story. For Twilight of Dreams: Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter, I brought together elements of horror from film and television. Many elements from German Expressionism and Italian Giallo came together to guide the special effects make-up decisions and the painted backdrops that created the dreamworld art direction. There is the obvious influence from horror anthologies of 1990s American television that pushed the direction of Tommy, our possessed puppet and guide into living nightmares. The audience is always identifying influences throughout Twilight of Dreams (Twilight Zone, Tales From the Crypt, The Ray Bradbury Theater, etc.), not because there is any homages in the film itself but because the narrative reaches into the audience's collective psyche using archetypes, mythology, and religion: it is a story about “us”.
How did you select the actors for your project?
Casting is not what it used to be a decade ago. Social media allows actors to showcase themselves on various platforms, and when you connect with one actor, their entire network opens up to you. Suddenly, you have several options moving out into different acting circles. Their social media posts tell you right away if an actor will be good for a role, and then it is all about introductions and conversations.
6. Why do you think your film should appeal to distributors? Territory, territory, territory!
of Dreams: Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter
should appeal to distributors because it has been honored by film
festival audiences and juries in the United States, Canada, Mexico,
the UK, Hong Kong, Wallachia, Budapest, Paris, London, and many other
parts of Europe. The project has been developed thoroughly into an
anthology series that will fit into streaming service models such as
Shudder, Screambox, Netflix, etc. Distributors would have streaming
success in several territories with my property.
7. At which festival has your film been screened?
Cannes Shorts (Best Horror Nominated)
Budapest Film Festival (Best Horror Film)
Wallachia Int'l Film Festival (Best Short)
4th Dimension Independent Film Festival (Best Horror)
Cult Movies International Film Festival (Best Short Surreal)
Arthouse Festival of Beverly Hills (Best Zombie Short)
Bizarroland Film Festival (formerly Sick 'n' Wrong) (Audience Award)
Florida Horror Film Festival (Best SFX)
Paris International Short Festival (Best International Narrative Short Finalist)
San Francisco Indie Short Festival (Best Horror Nominated)
Hong Kong Indie Film Festival (Best Short Semi-Finalist)
Vienna Indie Short Film Festival (Best Short Semi-Finalist)
Vesuvius International Film Fest (Best Director + Best Short Finalist)
Beyond the Curve International Film Festival (Best Horror Nominated)
Toronto Independent Film Festival of Cift (Best Horror Semi-Finalist)
Hamburg Film Awards (Best Horror Finalist)
Phoenix Shorts (Graveyard Shift Shorts Semi-Finalist)
Spotlight Horror Film Awards (Silver Award)
South Italy International Film Festival
Nosferatu Film Festival
The Horror Collective
Stuff MX Film Festival
Calgary Horror Con
Hardcore Horror Fest
Horror Shorts Film Festival
8. How did your acquaintances react when they first saw the film?
Everyone who knows me had strong reactions to Twilight of Dreams. First was their reaction to the visual content of the picture, and second was to the effect of the storytelling that remained with them for several weeks after. Tommy—a possessed puppet—John the Baptist reconnecting his head onto his neck, the painful resurrection of Christ: all these visuals were deeply connecting with them through their nostalgia of television and film references, through a common fear of biological horror, or through a more philosophical and psychological tether to their spiritual life.
If you could change something in your film, what would it be?
That’s a difficult question to answer, as is the question of how you would change your own child. Art becomes what it may, manifesting from the skill and imagination of everyone involved. Sure, there are things that you learn in the process and make better throughout future projects and you develop and grow. But Twilight of Dreams can only change as it grows into other projects: it grew into the graphic novel Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter: The Codices Vol. I , published and distributed by Anterior Books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Rakuten, etc., and then that graphic novel is currently in production to create the new motion picture film Zombie Jesus Vampire Hunter
10. Which movies are your favorites and why?
Whatever I decide at the moment. Many pictures speak to me. Many directors teach me depending on where I am in my personal creative journey. I have never answered this question because I can’t. I never could.
11. What topics do you like to address in your stories?
Any topic worthy of contempt and exploration. I am driven by the absurdity of humanity—including my own. I believe that we are all fools, but yet most of us involve ourselves with the unfoolish endeavor of raging against death. That endeavor feeds any story, any topic, in any period of time, because all singular action is taken to “live a little” but in the defiant sum of “to live forever”.
12. What is your motivation in making films?
To have fun! To create! But mainly I want to be friends with David Lynch and one day direct Nicolas Cage.
13. Which contemporary filmmakers motivate you the most?
David Lynch. David Cronenberg. Panos Cosmatos. Kathryn Bigelow. Spike Lee.
14. What projects do you plan to shoot in the future?
I have current scripts to move forward with the anthology of Twilight of Dreams.
There’s a UFO project I’ve been writing. And if someone out there wants to come knocking with a big budget, I have an incredible idea to make The Pied Piper.
© Cannes Film Awards 2020 - 2022