Born in Cali, Colombia, Andy Alvarez is a director / producer based in Vancouver, BC. Graduated from the University of British Columbia with a BFA in Film Production. Her directorial debut based on her personal story is the award winning short film La Mariposa. It was awarded the Leo Award for Best Student Production in June of 2018, and is now streaming on CBC Gem and Air Canada. In the fall of 2018 Andy was selected as one of 10 filmmakers to participate in Vancouver’s International Film Festival’s first Talent Lab program. Andy won the Lindalee Tracey Award at Hot Docs 2019 Film Festival for her latest short film, Our Home.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in?
SOL is set in a world riddled with climate change, where there is a THICK toxic smog that covers the earth’s surface. The sun’s rays have not reached our soil/water in years. There is no plant life, no vegetation, and no clean air to breathe. If you’re lucky and smart, you can live in your own house that would have had to be built to sustain clean reusable and breathable air. Or else you’d have to live in an overcrowded government institution, where famine and disease will kill you before the toxic smoke will. This short is also set in 2042, on earth. I wouldn’t want to live in this world, but I’m afraid we might be forced to.
Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
Pandora! From the Avatar franchise, there’s something magical about the nature and vibrancy of the colours that are dream-like!
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level?
Sci-Fi character – Princess Lea – is always misunderstood because she’s a girl, but always proves everyone wrong by being herself, which is super bad ass!
Who is your Sci-Fi persona?
I’d like to think I’d be the giant eagles from Lord of The Rings or Rhaegal (dragon) from Game of Thrones, but I’m probably more like the Sandworm from Dune just because I can be very territorial, lol!
Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?
I think it depends. It’s scary to think that this is a possibility. Like the idea of droids would be great! But at the same time, it’s very Sky Net vibes. Yea would be cool to see a sci-fi movie made by an AI, it’s a different perspective that might be refreshing to see! I’d support them if their intent was to not cause harm!
Who would be in your Sci-Fi crew?
Definitely The Iron Giant, Lola bunny, Sarah Connor, Katniss Everdeen, and Ellen Ripley!
You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?
Not sure if it’s a bad idea, but definitely not the right idea: The original concept for Sol was about a young girl who lived in an underground bunker, so far down that she had never seen the sun – and her main goal was to see the sun. Martin Calvo, Co-Writer, and I developed it for weeks, talking about how life would be sustainable underground, how long had they been there, and what’s currency like there? What do they eat? Etc. As we kept talking about it, I realized that this concept was too similar to The City of Ember series. So, we had to pivot! But I think it was for the best, and we were able to shift the story into a more grounded reality.
Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?
I hope so! I certainly enjoy watching/reading Sci-Fi content. I do have nightmares of living in a world like Blade Runner – but the cool thing about the sci-fi community is that you’re never alone – because someone wrote the content you love, and that person must have felt or thought what you think as well! Also, being a part of fandoms is always very comforting!
Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?
I think Digital. I was born in the time when the switch to digital is what I was first taught, so I feel more comfortable in that world, but I’m eager to learn about analog – because the digital world can collapse, then we’re left with analog! Would be good to be able to use both!. Yes, there certainly is a disconnect. The crazy expensive and advanced cameras we shoot with are great, but in the story, when you are setting it in the future, it usually has technology that isn’t readily available in our real world right now. So there is always a bit of a disconnect. And when you’re an indie filmmaker, you kind of have to be creative on how you show this “new” technology, since you’re bound by copyrights and all that jazz.
When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?
For me, the character(s) plays a huge role in how the world is made. Like for SOL, Claudia’s character (Mom), is a science nerd, and mechanic who makes her own gear from scraps and materials close by. So the aesthetic of her house, props and attire are rooted in her personality. Example: There was lots of clutter because her character thrives in organized chaos. So everything that went into the design and props of the film, sprouted from the question “how would Claudia build this?”. When you’re talking about a world like Dune, Star Wars or even Westeros, I think it really depends on your hero’s journey and what kind of obstacles you’d throw their way. Creating something relatable but unfamiliar is tricky, but so much fun because you can put your own spin on how a phone will look like in 50 years, or how glasses will function in 10 years. I think starting from something you know (like a phone), then asking yourself “how can I make it better” is a good start.
Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?
Star Wars Philip K. Dick ALWAYS Practical! Utopia Post-Apocalypse for sure!