Dr. Mendez, a colorful astrophysicist, joins forces with Bobbi Calhoun, a conspiracy theorist, in order to uncover an alien invasion in their hometown. Turns out, their small town is a hotbed for UFO activity. It’s recently been swarmed with aliens that have body snatched undocumented migrants and crossed the border in order to invade the nation undetected.
PABLO BOBADILLA (Producer/Writer/Director) is a Dominican-American filmmaker that focuses primarily on storytelling with a distinct point of view. He holds a B.S. in Business Management from LaGrange College, a B.F.A. from the University of North Carolina - School of the Arts in filmmaking, and an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University. While attending the nationally ranked film school at UNCSA, he developed a strong foundation that embodies both storytelling techniques and film production knowledge. Pablo is a bilingual filmmaker. As a result, he is fully determined to tell stories in both English and Spanish that connect with domestic and international audiences.
It was our pleasure to interview the award winning director of this fantastic science fiction film for L.A. Indies magazine.
What was the inspiration behind the making of Smoking Gun?
The inspiration for Smoking Gun was three-fold. As an immigrant and an American, I sensed that immigration was an underlying concern and that it was often cast in a bad light. Due to this, I originally started with a satirical take on the following concept - what if undocumented migrants were in fact aliens planning to invade our country? Soon after, the concept evolved to include political themes since immigration and politics became hot topics after the 2016 election and were covered in the media on a daily basis. The topics seemed inescapable and were creating a lot of division in the country, and my concerns with how they were being addressed kept gnawing at me. Lastly, I became really interested in listening to podcasts that focused on conspiracy theories in the last couple of years. As a result, the concept of Smoking Gun became a mash-up of all of these ideas since it no longer seemed far-fetched to me that they could all exist in the same universe. Also, it seemed like a fun way to address my underlying fears and concerns.
What were some of the challenges of making the film?
Like many independent filmmakers, one of the main challenges we faced was financing. I had originally planned to make the half-hour TV pilot version of Smoking Gun but I wasn't able to raise enough funds. Then, I had the idea of pivoting and making a much shorter pilot as part of a web series in hopes of using it as both a proof of concept and submitting it to festivals. Especially, since the web series format is becoming increasingly popular. Another challenge we faced was filming predominantly exteriors at night in North Carolina during the month of October. A week before production started, it was a nice 70 degrees, but as soon as we started filming, the temperature dropped to about 30 degrees. That said, we had an amazing cast and crew and somehow managed to keep the morale up, and everyone still seemed to enjoy the experience. At least, that's what they tell me...
When did you realize that you wanted to make films and what was the first film project that you created?
I first realized I wanted to make films while in college. It dawned on me after I watched the film, Gattaca, and it resonated with me. It was the first time my admiration for a film made me want to understand how films are made and how I could tell my own stories and share my perspective. Years later, I decided to go back to school and attended film school at UNCSA - University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Which directors have been influential in your work?
I generally gravitate more towards the story and themes than I do directors. Although, there is something to be said about directors that have a well-defined point of view and strong voices. Taking this into consideration, I really admire directors like Stanley Kubrick, Denis Villeneuve, and Andrew Niccol. You can see their DNA in every inch of the frame when watching their films.
What genre of filmmaking do you like to work on?
I generally prefer sci-fi and horror because they are the genres that provide filmmakers the opportunity to infuse stories with social commentary in a fun and entertaining manner. That said, as a storyteller, I go into every project with an open mind and typically let the story or inspiration choose the genre for me.
What is the most challenging aspect of making an independent film?
For myself, the most challenging part of making an independent film is the follow through. Creating movies is an enormous endeavor that requires a lot of problem-solving and many moving parts. As an independent filmmaker, you really have to will your film into existence, and it is normally a marathon all the way from development to post-production. That said, seeing a story that started out as just a thought in your head come to fruition after years of hard work and follow through is a rewarding experience. Especially, if it impacts and inspires others.
What is your plan for further distribution of your film?
Currently, Smoking Gun is starting its run in the festival circuit. Recently, it's been getting some buzz and attention at festivals. I hope it continues to do well at festivals and that it opens doors to potentially secure financing to create a complete season of the web series or adapt it into a half-hour TV series. Since a TV series was originally in the works, I already have a script for the half-hour pilot and a bible handy just in case.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
In my opinion, cinema has the ability of making an impact on society because it's a powerful tool for generating empathy and connecting people through a shared love for storytelling. It really does help bring people together and allows them to share their unique points of view with others. It's also a good form of escapism when times are tough and can inspire people to change things or do better.
What is your next film project?
I'm currently co-producing a feature film entitled Where's Rose that's currently in post-production. Additionally, I'm developing a feature film (horror) that explores how our growing reliance on technology as a society is eroding away at the family nucleus. It will be my directorial debut for a feature film.
Why do you make films and what draws you to the language of cinema and directing?
At the end of the day, I make films because I am passionate about storytelling. The language of cinema and directing allow me to tell my stories in a precise way that reflects my own personality, interests, and ideas. I often struggle to express myself through conversation since I am an introvert, but filmmaking helps me break down those barriers. Even though it may seem scary or overwhelming at times, I also really do enjoy the challenge of filmmaking. If filmmaking were easy, I believe I would eventually get bored with it. Instead, the challenges of filmmaking keep me on my toes and allow me the opportunity to continue to improve as a filmmaker. As a result, I learn something new with every project.