We love creative Halloween costumes; they are the humorous spicing to a holiday that often splits between horrific and over-sexualized too often.  Resting on perhaps the most un-creative side of the spectrum is the cat costume.  It has been done before, pharm again and again, eczema
and even by this writer.  It was just too easy to wear liquid leggings, heart
add ears, and call myself a black cat… duh.  Thus, we were pleasantly surprised when we saw this video from LookTV of Victoria Floethe demonstrating how to make a truly creative cat costume.  How?  Because the cat in question is none other than our favorite online meme: Grumpy Cat.  The main focus of the tutorial is the face-makeup, which does most of the work transforming you into the unhappy kitty.  The rest of the DIY costume is comprised of simple pieces, most of which are very likely already in your closet (a furry sweater, leggings, heels).  And for the woman who doesn’t want to veer too far away from the sexy cat archetype, Victoria even gives suggestions for how to make the look a little flirty, although the idea of a sexy Grumpy Cat is almost too hilarious for us to handle.  Check out the video for the Halloween how-to and start practicing your feline frown.

 

Cover image via Youtube

 

– Gloria Cavallaro
Blog: Silver Halide
Twitter: @gloriacavallaro

For film enthusiasts, symptoms
learning about young filmmakers on the brink of their wider success is like getting to see a band live at Brooklyn Bowl right before they hit it big and start playing Barclays Center.  So let us introduce you to that Brooklyn band or, more about
in this case, ampoule
filmmakers hailing from Queens, Christopher Lopez and Davi Santos.  As actors, directors, producers, and former models, this duo is on their way to be the next Matt Damon and Ben Affleck-style breakout stars of 2013 with their short film Densely Hollow.  The thriller builds off of the success of their first short together, The Cure, which made its way to the Cannes Film Festival in 2012.  But Lopez and Santos are not one to sit on their laurels, these short films made with tight budgets, dedicated teams, and many late nights, were both working towards their ultimate goal of a feature film.  Mission accomplished.  Starting in Spring 2014, production will start on their first feature: “The Final Act.”  It’s an exciting time for these compelling creatives and Viral Fashion scored their first sit-down interview together.  Read on for our in-depth talk on how Lopez and Santos made their big ideas happen with small budgets, the back-story of their film that seems prophetically written, and what’s next for these inspiring up-and-comers. Get used to hearing about these two, they are going to be household names.

 

 

To start off, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Christopher Lopez: I was born in the Dominican Republic, moved to Buschwick, Brooklyn, to Maspeth, Queens and then settled in Kew Garden Hills.  I studied art all throughout middle school, junior high, and high school, where I studied architecture.  I didn’t like it in college so I got an English degree instead until I realized what I really wanted to do was act.  Then, when I did these two short films, I realized what I really want to do is write and direct, and that’s where I am now.

Davi Santos: I’m from Brazil and my family moved to the US before my first birthday.  We moved to Astoria, Queens where I grew up. I started studying performing arts in middle school at P.P.A.S. with Sarah Hyland and Connor Paulo.  Then, I met Chris during college.

 

 

What sparked each of your interests in film?

Lopez:  I’ve always loved movies.  That’s always been a connection I’ve had with my father, we bonded over film.  When I became an actor I liked the idea of embodying a different character but film itself, in terms of wanting to be a writer/director, I didn’t really care for it until we wrote “The Cure.”  I didn’t see myself as a writer/director until that point.

Santos: Me too, my dad exposed me to old movies when I was a kid growing up. We had drawers and closets packed with VHS tapes.  Then, I’d watch everything on Pay Per View with my mom. When I was 16, one of my best friends wanted to be a director and I, in turn, was introduced to auteurs like David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Pedro Almodovar…that’s when I knew I was in the rabbit hole.

 

 

How did the two of you meet and begin this collaboration?

Santos:  We met at a Screen Actor’s Guild workshop when the coordinator suggested it. Chris shared with me [the screenplay for] “The Cure,” or “The Mask” as it was called at the time.  I sent him notes and he liked them, then, we continued drafting it to and fro until we shot it.

Lopez: I still remember what he said when he introduced us, “You can’t be a island in this business, you have to be a nation.” I think that’s kind of what we’ve done. We’re this little two-man nation.

 

 

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

“The Cure,” your first short together, was an official selection at Cannes Film Festival 2012.  How did it feel to gain recognition with your premiere project?

Santos: I felt like it was a huge push [for us], “On to the next thing!”

Lopez: I felt that too because we were already on to the next thing.  We were so heavily involved in “Densely Hollow” when we got word of “The Cure” [being selected for Cannes] that, for me, it was really nice to be recognized but it wasn’t necessarily the validation I needed to continue.  I was going to do the work no matter what festival we got in; the work was going to continue to go on.

Santos:  Yeah… but it still felt good!  It wasn’t validation, but it sure as hell felt like, “You’re doing good. Keep going. We made an agreement, I feel it’s always been there with “The Cure” and especially with  “Densely Hollow,” that we would make the film the way we wanted to make it regardless of what we thought people would like or what people would expect.  We just needed to communicate and be honest. Whether it got into a certain festival wouldn’t stop us, but the fact that it did…

 

Did either of you go to Cannes?

Lopez: I did.
Santos: I was working.

 

 

What was the response?

Lopez: It was great!  There were some really flattering things being said to me like, “The next David Fincher.”  What was cool was that because they saw me as the actor in the film, people would come up to me when they saw me walking around. They were very interested in our work.

 

 

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

You two have a new film now, Densely Hollow, which will be entering the festival circuit soon, tell us about that.

Santos: It was developed with our ideas about how the world was operating and why it didn’t. How corporations with fiscal objectives corrupt government and the individuals who have that one in a billion idea that could change the world but then meet these huge forces against them. Ultimately, it’s how we get in our own way and how we are, at the same time, doing everything we can to outsmart ourselves to make progress. The script brings in futurist technology, the political machine, and then falls between these two guys that depend on each other. The film was a great expansion from “The Cure:” story, production value, even hats: I directed the opening sequence, music supervised, both Christopher and I had to produce and direct a film all at the same time while still making sure to prepare lines… that shoot week, we hardly slept, but I can’t wait for the next round.

Lopez: In retrospect, now that we are working towards this gigantic feature film, I think, if anything can be taken away from it, it is showcasing our growth as artists from the tiny film that was “The Cure” to then “Densely Hollow.”

Santos: It’s an exponential curve with every single new project, I mean, we feel it.  “The Cure” is incredible partly because it was like it came out of nowhere.  “Densely Hollow” was “The Cure” on steroids, but organic, healthy, non-toxic steroids (laughs), and “The Final Act” is the FEATURE film and it’s huge.  It’s absolutely huge.

Lopez: They’re kind of like children.  You have “The Cure”, then the newest is “Densely Hollow,” and then you’re expecting “The Final Act.”  The new baby is “The Final Act.”

Santos:  I think they’re important for the narrative of the filmmaking process.  It goes back to the “Just Do It” mentality.”  If you just put it together, X will come out.  If you do it again, it will be everything you got with X plus more, as long as you’re learning.

 

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

I previewed Densely Hollow and was impressed by the grandness of the settings: a submarine, a castle estate, the Waldorf-Astoria, gorgeous animation sequences.  What was your budget like?

Lopez:  The actual money that it cost to make was about $24,000. But so many people worked for free or for under what they would normally charge that the film, if paid for at the usual rate, would have cost four times as much to put together, easily.

Santos: It took a lot of letter writing, appeals, sharing the script, getting everyone to understand the film, to love it like we did.  Then it wasn’t about the money anymore, it was about the getting the picture made.

 

So how did you manage to get that team together?

Lopez:  We knew the DP [Director of Photography], Leo, who worked with us on “The Cure.”  The rest of the team we put together by Mandy.com, Craigslist, and those kind of production websites.

Santos: It was a lot of posting – we posted on our Facebook page too – and that’s how we found our team. Then showing the script to people, they would hop on the project that way.

Lopez:  Yes, if they liked the story and also the settings.  It also depends what you’re shooting the film on. We told them we’re shooting with the Red Epic, in a castle, in a submarine, and those were all selling points to people who wanted to be a part of it.  They knew it would be something that would stand out on their reel and their resume at the very least.

 

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Davi is currently working as an actor in LA and, Christopher; you’re based in New York City.  What is it like creating a film together from across the country?

Lopez:  It works for us.  That’s how we’ve always worked so it just is how it is and we don’t know any different.  I don’t know any different. We make it work.

Santos: “The Cure”, even though we were in the same city [at that time], was basically written entirely from a distance.  Then we would have a crash course and we would sit down for hours and continue molding, you know?  It’s that same principle now but we’re doing it over the phone.

 

What are some of the themes in Densely Hollow that you think are extremely relevant to what’s going on in the world right now?

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Santos: The film is centered on a young man who is developing new technology for space travel and renewable energy.  Then there are corporate interests that say, well, developing a machine of mass destruction and maintaining our need for oil is more profitable.  It’s what’s happening today but all put into one story and the dynamic between two people.

Lopez: When writing the film back in late 2011 it was kind of a different world, we didn’t have Snowden, NSA spying wasn’t in the public consciousness; Aaron Swartz didn’t commit suicide until early 2013. So we didn’t have much to draw from aside from Julian Assange and Wiki Leaks. It was all a work of fiction. It has been incredible seeing the film’s storyline kind of play out before us and still continue to do so. Someone that had read the script prior to us going into production told me that the NSA doesn’t do any of the things I described in my film, that I should change it to the CIA. I’m glad we stuck to our guns. We painted such a scary world in our film – it’s terrifying to see so much of it ringing true.

 

The animation sequences were gorgeous.  Who was involved with making that?

Lopez: A two-man team did the animation: Andre and Vlad, the producer.  They live in St. Petersburg, Russia and completed the animation over nine months – we were only able to pay them a low rate so it took them longer than if they were getting compensated properly.  We were incredibly happy with the work. The collaboration with them was very much like working with Davi:  going back and forth, making sure the colors were right.  They were great partners and they’ve extended an offer to help to getting the film out in Europe, so we’re taking them up on that as well.  We were invited to London, to the University College London’s Film Society.  They invited us to come in and do a showcase of our work and a Q & A.

 

You worked with a composer on an original soundtrack for the film as well.  How did you collaborate to create a sound that illustrates the imagery of the film?

Santos:  We went through so many composers. We met with an older musician from Cannes but it didn’t click. Even our sound designers were submitting music.  Finally, we looked right under our nose and there was Keren Minto from my college class.  It was the most fantastic collaboration; we created our own musical language.  It was actually a lot like the way Chris and I work, in terms of communicating themes and ideas, and then she brings in the structure and we tilt it and change it.  The music went through a metamorphosis much like the screenplay.  The first draft versus what we have now, the first song submitted versus what we used; it’s night and day.  And then we got so lucky with Karen, her professor Michael Bacon and Lehman College and the multi-media center.  That’s like thousands and thousands of dollars that was donated for the project, and manual labor, artistry, and craftsmanship.  We were able to have live musicians, live orchestrations, and reel mixing… a sound studio.  It was a gift.

 

 

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

Photo via Densely Hollow Films

What do the both of you have planned next?  We’re very excited to learn about what’s to come from Densely Hollow Films.

Lopez: We have so much planned. Up first is our feature film “The Final Act” an English/French language film about a dancer making his grand return to the stage. Davi will star and I will direct.

Santos: It’s a tragedy that’ll make you laugh along the way. Or a comedy that will make you cry. It tells a story about dance, fame, myth, love, family, dreams, fate…it’s fantasy and realism and terror, and satire…the film is going to be our most grand and the greatest challenge yet.

 

 

It’s safe to say that you two are making your filmmaking dreams come true and now, with a feature film in the works, will be able to share your art with a much wider audience. How does it feel seeing this all happen?

Santos: “The Cure” being in one location and being mostly seated, we had that feeling of, “Yeah! It manifested!”  But “Densely Hollow,” being so varied, and having all these different scenes, different rooms, different places; it was really incredible to shape it, have it on paper, and then see it happen before our eyes.

Lopez:  I feel like that’s what people saw, with the growth from “The Cure” to “Densely Hollow.”  To know, “These kids did this film so they could definitely do this feature film they want to do;” I think that’s where the faith is coming from for people to support and fund our work.

Santos:  I remember saying: “What if we’re inside the space shuttle and we zoom down to earth and then we’re in the submarine?”  We’d just made a movie about two guys in a café and that was the conversation we were having for “Densely Hollow”… and we did it!  So the feeling is that anything you can imagine, you can accomplish.

Lopez: It really does feel limitless.  There was that fear of writing something that was too big, that could never be done; but whatever is going to stop us is just a limit to our imagination.  I feel like we can do anything now.

 

 

Learn more at www.denselyhollow.com.

 

 

– Gloria Cavallaro
Blog: Silver Halide
Twitter: @gloriacavallaro