Latin Horror got the opportunity to interview Director, Edgar Nito Arrache, Cinematographer Juan Pablo Ramírez A.M.C., Actor Eduardo Banda and Actress Regina Reynoso from the critically acclaimed film, ‘The Gasoline Thieves‘ at the 2019 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.
‘The Gasoline Thieves‘ also known as its original title ‘Huachicoloro‘ is the first feature from director, Edgar Nito Arrache. In Guanajuato, Mexico, the story follows Lalo (Eduardo Banda), a young naive boy who gets pressured into buying a smartphone for Ana (Regina Reynoso), a girl he has a crush on. Lalo’s desire to please Ana, leads him on a deadly journey into a world of being a gasoline thieve or better known as huachicoloro. The term huachicoloro means “a person dedicated to the theft and illicit sale of motor fuel.”
On Sunday, April 28th, Christian A. Morán of LatinHorror.com visited the famous Roxy Hotel in New York City. In press room 4 the team behind the Mexican thriller, ‘The Gasoline Thieves‘ (Director, Edgar Nito Arrache, Cinematographer Juan Pablo Ramírez A.M.C., Actor Eduardo Banda and Actress Regina Reynoso) awaited for their interview about the loss of a child’s innocence in Mexico over GAS.
Christian A. Morán: Can you first explain the political atmosphere of Mexico and the town, Guanajuato where ‘The Gasoline Thieves’ takes place so that our audience can know the world of the film?
Edgar Nito: The first time we were talking about developing this story was like four years ago when I was traveling there because I grew up there. And there is a refinery close to the city. That means that the pipelines that distribute gasoline passed through the whole route. So people use to talk about the gasoline thieves and in local media there was little news about it. Not everyone knew that this was happening in the country so I felt like this needed to be told, what was happening in the town that I grew up in. The years passed since the day that we started working on the movie, now it’s a big problem not just in the city and in the state, it’s a big problem in the whole country. Now we knew that in every place that has a refinery close by is where these gasoline thieves work mostly. But actually everywhere, where the pipelines cross, there’s problems about this. So the people, we knew that this was happening probably more than 10 years ago but it wasn’t a big deal, now it is. I know exactly how this was growing really fast but in the last 3 years it grew in a crazy way. Now the President has declared a war against these guys whose only problems was beer every day. In my personal experience in the town that I grew up in, it was a really calm place and now it’s sad to tell that it’s a really dangerous city every day.
Morán: How did you go about in the research to get that realistic feel of what was happening in Guanajuato, to write the story?
Edgar: Most of the feel was about what we heard about from the conversation of the people in the city, in El Puerto. And some of it from the local media because we were investigating, the word huachicolero and no one had heard about it before, some people that used to call a liquor huachicoleros. So there wasn’t a lot of information about it, we didn’t make our research with actual watching huachicolero or gasoline thieves cause we wanted to tell this story from the fiction side, always from that side taking what information that we have in our hands in that moment. We talk a little bit with engineers and people that explain how to do this, how they can operate. But never with the true people have that done this because of our safety.
Morán: Let’s talk about the casting, the little kids and putting them in the environment, how did you come about using your actors?
Edgar: Regina [Reynoso] made casting in Mexico City. It was the first time we did the casting with her that we decided she was going to be. We already had Lalo (Eduardo Banda) chosen so what we needed in that moment was just to tape them together and see how the chemistry was going, and it was really good. When we found Lalo we were doing casting in Irapuato in Mexico City, in the place we shot the movie. We used local actors and invited sometimes people that haven’t acted before but was around or give us the look of the characters. Lalo was working in the school where we were doing the casting, helping his father painting the walls of the school so we saw him and said, “Do you want to do this casting? It’s for a movie.” He said yes, he made it and we get a lot of the child.
Morán: When you [Eduardo Banda] received the script for the first time how did you make the role yours? What methods of acting did you use to get to the character of Lalo?
Eduardo Banda: In fact, I did not receive the script. I did not have the opportunity to read the script. In fact they explained to me what it was that I had to do, because I took it as a game, and that’s how it came out, it came out all natural.
Morán: Tell me more about the directions that Edgar Nito gave you?
Eduardo: Ah well, he explained or suddenly he would let me read the script but only the little part that I had to say. He told me more or less how to interpreted something like, I do not know, I do not know how to say it. It was something that I liked but had no idea of what I was doing.
Edgar: He was aware of what he was really doing, maybe.
Eduardo: Suddenly I took some of the takes as a fluke.
Edgar: He thinks that they came out as flukes but the reality is that was we had chosen very well and the character was much like him, there was no fluke, he fit the role.
Morán: What scene were the most complicated for you [Eduardo Banda]?
Eduardo: It was where they would get me wet. It was very cold at night. Not because I found it hard to do it, but because it was so cold. There was one that was difficult for me, the one where I had to cry and express myself in another way that was against what I am. The simple truth, I am very happy, smiling and everything. It’s weird to see me crying and see me sad or so. Those takes are the hardest for me.
Morán: What did you [Eduardo Banda] do to get emotional so you can cry?
Eduardo: Sometimes they would helped me, they make me sad or they would tell me things about poor children and what they would do to earn the paper (money). I had the idea, and so I ended up sad.
Morán: Regina, when you got the script and you read it, how did you get to the character of Ana?
Regina Reynoso: I read the script after doing the casting and I liked it a lot. I read it and I said “Cool”. To get to the character of Ana, since it was a girl of my age from high schooI. I took things that happened on a common day in my life for example, but in a very different the way of life of a girl in the city and a girl of a rural town as in where the whole story is, a high school, I lived very much with those high school girls because all the extras were children from that high school. Then I lived with many of them and talked, connected, connecting making connections, and taking stories of life from those girls to build what Ana is.
Morán: It seems you kept putting these motivating factors that Lalo is just an innocent kid that doesn’t know anything and he gets this proposition of buying a smart phone that leads him to a path, getting lured by money, the love of a woman and then the environment itself. I just want to talk about those motivating factors within the story and how you designed it in the script and visually also?
Edgar: Well one of my principle decisions and an interesting topic when I was writing the script with Alfredo Mendoza was talking about childhood and adolescence. Where decisions you take probably are not the correct ones because you don’t have a lot of experiences in your life and it’s easier for you to choose something that probably blinds you easily or you don’t see the whole thing. So that’s why we chose a character of that age and also that interests me a lot because there’s a lot of kids that keep getting into the organized crime really early because they probably get blind easily for little money or something that is really fast in that way. Unfortunately, that changes theirs lives and there’s no way to go out if you enter this. So I wanted to take that as an inspiration to develop his character and for me that’s absurd. So that’s why the first motivation is the phone or something absurd that fucks up a kids life.
Morán: Let’s talk about the phone. Regina’s take on the selfie and how it encourages a generation and reasons you put it within the movie? Let’s dive in more for the reasons Lalo’s determination of getting Ana a phone for her and its social commentary?
Edgar: I think that Ana’s friends are just kidding/joking in the circle in the society they live there. Probably they don’t want to see their friend Ana with him. They want her to be with an older guy, more handsome, something like that. They are just joking around him to invite him to don’t be with her and it’s just a joke. The kids is inexperienced guy you know, in love with women and he takes it really literally. I think that hook can happen at that age if you fall so in love, it’s an age that you think “caliente.” You want to be there, and you do not want to think about everything, it’s very literal. Take the idea very seriously and decide to do it literally is more or less the subject but it is not that it had to be.
Morán: You took shots that make the world very naturalistic, you showed the lack of community progression visually which is a very hard thing for many people and also those nighttime scenes with the pipelines and flames. Explain the communication you had with the director to take those shots?
Juan Pablo Ramírez A.M.C.: Well Edgar and I have been best friends for 13 years. We know each other a lot, we filmed a lot together, we already have a visual connection together and this movie was made trying to take advantage of Irapuato and has geographical facilities that are known for having grown there. Then we tried to take advantage of a location that was dressed in 360 degrees. Then starting from that we started to design the shots, instead of trying to enter the spaces, we tried to find spaces that are fully dressed and thus be able to use a camera that could go and travel between spaces. And that thinking and I think it was true to give credibility to the images because at the time we started to intervene the spaces it became very complicated and it didn’t jump to the eye. Because everything was already there, they had years of dust, sunny days, years of washing clothes, then we tried to take advantage of it and return it as a special documentary for a fiction and I think that allowed us to reach some places that we would not have, could and give an impact of naturalism and realism that I think helps and also raises the performance of the boys and helps the story be much more credible.
Morán: What message do you want to send to people who view your film?
Edgar: Well, I think it’s a relevant and important film for the time that Mexico is living right now. And for that reason it is essential that people can see it. The message I think is the same as the movie. I think there is a bit of talk about the context that we have to live now. To the Mexicans of the world that it is time see how many of our young people live in our country and the great consequences that they may have to choose a way that is easy and incorrect.
Eduardo: For me it’s like I’m in the movie. It is about things that really happen and the consequences that aren’t seen, if you hit it, it was good but if not there is the consequence. Either way, you end up the same.
Regina: For me the film, from my perspective, on the other side of the social thing, of the huachicolero thing is, if you cannot control your emotions and not know what is love and with the innocence of a young person and know where you can arrive. If you do not know how to control what you feel and let yourself be guided by the innocence of a child. Because for me, Lalo was simply, he had a child’s heart. Just like that you can buy a very expensive phone for a girl and then come to your dem-that’s spoiler, sorry. For me that’s what I saw in the movie.
‘The Gasoline Thieves‘ premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 25th. The finale screening is on May 2nd at Regal Cinemas Battery Park at 5:30PM. For ticket information please visit: www.tribecafilm.com/filmguide/gasoline-thieves-2019