This project has the potential to reach a wide array of audiences, including Latinos and horror fans. It is an ambitious film, that if done well, will not only entertain with scares, but also honor and introduce to American culture a terrifying legend that has haunted generations of children.
Inclusion StatementThe film features an all-Latino cast, including the Producer and Director. It paints a realistic picture of a working class Mexican-American family– a huge demographic that is rarely shown. There are sequences in Spanish and it features one of the culture’s most infamous legends at its forefront.
About The Project
“A veces, las cosas que uno vee en la sombra son mas que la oscuridad”
“Sometimes, the things you see in the shadows are more than just darkness.”
Llora Conmigo, or “Cry With Me” in English, is a short horror film that aims to authentically capture what a modern encounter with the notorious Mexican folklore character of La Llorona would look like. The script has been in active development since November 2017, and has gone through countless revisions in order to ensure that the final story is well-paced and strong enough to stand on its own without relying heavily on scares. As seen above, La Llorona has a rich backstory which was incredibly important for us to keep in mind when crafting the story. While many Latin American people are acquainted with her, we understand that other audiences are not. However, we feel confident that this is a film that doesn’t require previous knowledge of La Llorona in order to enjoy and be entertained.
Our story focuses on Tomas, a Mexican-American teen who doesn’t have a care in the world other than occasionally getting out of some minor trouble with his friends after school. However, Tomas is also an older brother which comes with its own responsibilities at times. Three times a week Tomas must take his younger brother, Simon, to and from baseball practice. On one of these nights, the brothers hear a distant cry on their walk back home– near the LA river basin. This spooks them out, causing them to hurry back to their loving family. After a short conversation with their parents, the brothers retreat to their shared bedroom where we get a closer look into their relationship. Tomas eventually nods off to sleep when he suddenly wakes up to drops of water fall onto his face. He quickly rises and notices his brother’s bed empty...save for his favorite teddy bear. Tomas gets out of bed only to find his deepest and darkest fears realized: the infamous legend, La Llorona, has entered his house and made herself right at home.
This is just a general overview of our story. We have plenty more surprises, scares and secrets up our sleeve. The Llora Conmigo team is extremely excited to bring this film to life after almost a year of hard work. There is so much to this film that will truly make it an incredibly special endeavor worth your time and contribution.
To begin with, this is a horror film, which is a genre that has been rapidly growing in both commercial and critical acclaim. In 2017, the genre saw its biggest success yet with consecutive high-grossing box-office releases. With this momentum, a story like Llora Conmigo will most definitely find a place in the market and be in high-demand across all platforms from festivals to online releases. Up until now, this folklore mainly resonated with Latin American families. As of a few weeks ago, the filmmaking team was super excited to learn that a feature film about La Llorona is set to come out in April 2019, which will only spread general awareness and publicity for this Latin legend. We have been in contact with the director of that film, Michael Chaves, who is excited for our short and will be watching it upon its completion.
Furthermore, we have found through writing the script that Llora Conmigo is not only a genre picture, but also a commentary on today’s social climate. In this day and age, representation and diversity in media have never been more encouraged, sometimes becoming the driving force of a film’s success. Although I am thrilled to showcase a contemporary encounter with a chilling Mexican legend who is rarely represented in film, I am even more excited to tell a story that invites a discussion around the prevailing topic of immigration. Along with numerous members of the Latinx Community, we are excited to convey an important story rooted in our culture that features a narrative which extends its reach beyond that of the horror genre. Many children have grown up with stories about La Llorona, making us want to honor her legacy by associating her actions with the timely removal of children from their parents under the current administration. What better way to represent this contemporary terror than through the formalistic lens of a horror film?
While being made by USC students, this film is an independent endeavor that is not associated with a USC class. This makes getting the necessary assets to make the film much more of a challenge, as we have to be responsible for securing all of those resources ourselves. Despite that, we do have the support of numerous USC faculty members including the Alma and Alfred Hitchcock Chair, Dr. Drew Casper, the horror director and producer, Professor Rebekah McKendry, and the directing professor David Maquiling. Additionally, we also have the support of other filmmakers and organizations outside of USC, such as the head of development of Ghost House Pictures, Romel Adam, the famous Colombian director Simon Brand, the independent filmmaker James Bolton, and the national professional cinema Fraternity, Delta Kappa Alpha.
Once upon a time in Mexico, hundreds of years ago, a widowed woman with two children was hopelessly lost in life. Less than a year ago, her soulmate unexpectedly passed away, leaving her depressed and heartbroken. She never thought that she would find love or happiness again… until the day a handsome traveler stopped in her small town. She fell back in love instantaneously and snuck out at night to engage in private affairs with him. However, the traveler knew that they could never publicly reveal their love, as the Catholic Church would never allow a woman to remarry, especially with the constant reminder of her previous marriage: her two sons. Finally feeling like she has found a reason to live again, the woman does the unthinkable. One night, she takes her kids out to the river where she lets them play. Joining them in the water, she caresses their heads before plunging them underwater until their little bodies cease to struggle. The following morning, she excitedly runs over to her lover to deliver the good news. He does not give her the response she so eagerly expected. He tells her that he never wanted to be with her in the first place and that he solely used her for physical pleasure. Upon hearing this, her already damaged heart shatters into pieces. She drops down to her knees and wails, realizing her miserable fortune. With nothing left in life, she returns to the river to give herself the same fate she had given her children the night before. After numerous attempts she fails to end her life– she is cursed and forbidden from death. She feels a sudden glimmer of hope and walks around different riverbeds, looking for her two sons with the thought that they may still be alive. All she can do while searching is cry. The legend says she wanders the streets of Mexico looking for children who could replace the ones she lost all those years ago. They call her La Llorona, “the crying one.” In recent times, she is said to have migrated to Los Angeles along with the influx of Mexican immigration. This is where our story begins…
With your help, we will be able to bring the large scope of our vision to life. With a very talented group of individuals behind the camera, we feel confident that you will see a fantastic finished film in the coming months.
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About This Team
Unlike with most student films that operate with short deadlines, the Llora Conmigo team has been blessed with having almost one full year to develop the story and plan out the film. But now the time has come to finally make our vision come to life! As our shooting dates approach, writer/director Camilo Urdaneta has been working closely with his two producers and closest collaborators, Camille St Gal de Pons and José Cañas. Camilo and Camille met their Freshman year of college and have built a foundational creative relationship throughout the years. This will be their fourth film together as a director/producer duo. Both interns at Ghost House Pictures a year ago, José and Camilo immediately bonded over their mutual love of the horror genre. José has been a crucial part of the writing process, always offering fantastic ways to scare and build tension. We also have our talented Cinematographer, Brandon Le, who has grown along with Camilo and Camille in the film program at USC. He always asks the questions that challenge the team to think both creatively and practically to ensure we get the best results with the resources we have. Our makeup artist, Christopher Osorio, who, if you look at his previous work, we are not worthy of, has already given us pages of his thoughts on how to conceptualize the horrifying character of La Llorona. This is just a taste of the amazing collaborators we have on the Llora Conmigo team. The list of people who have dedicated so much of their time in preparing this project for production could go on and on, and we thank everyone for their tireless passion and hardwork.