Eleni Rivera is a Puerto Rican writer/director from Atlanta. She is a passionate storyteller specializing in character driven pieces that explore human moments at their most natural state whether it’s on another planet or an apartment in LA. Having worked on set for films such as Black Panther and Stuber in Atlanta during college years, Eleni has well rounded knowledge about filmmaking and really started to form her own style as she tells stories with dynamic, curious and inviting visuals. She has been mentored by talented creators, including Maggie Kiley (Dirty John) and Michael Dowse (Stuber). She plans to disrupt the Sci-Fi, Coming of Age, and Horror medium as Latina woman.
Q & A
If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?
Yes, we’d love to live in Jack’s world. Any world where aliens exist and are known would be the best place to be. If we could buy a one-way ticket to any universe I think we would want to live within the Star Wars galaxy. It’d be so cool to just planet hop and explore as much as we could.
Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?
I would say I relate best to Eva from Wall-E because she’s intelligent, driven, and compassionate. I love her character arc and think she’s a wonderful example for children and people in general.
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?
Friend until they decide to go all Skynet on us, which would hopefully be never. We like to think of them as the humanoid robots from I, Robot. Before they turn murderous. We would 100% support them. Maybe they’ll have expanded ideas that we humans cannot even come close to thinking of.
In 1996, Bugs Bunny recruited Michael Jordan and Bill Murray to form the greatest basketball squad of all-time, the Tune Squad; you’re Bugs, who’s on your Sci-Fi Tune Squad?
Oh definitely the Back to the Future DeLorean except as a Transformer. That counts right? I think we’d take a Xenomorph ad Predator as well. Definitely a Jedi, Obi-Wan seems like a fun time. Is it cheating if they use their force abilities? To round it out I think our final selection in the Sci-Fi Tune Squad draft would be Leela from Futurama. She’s hilarious, a badass woman, and a perfect character to fit the team.
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?
We don’t think there’s ever a bad idea that can’t be expanded on or broken down to make it a great idea. Sure, we’ve all had some bad ideas that we would never make into a film but the beauty of it is that you can always take pieces of those bad ideas and add them to something else. Sometimes you just have to rearrange and trash the bad parts; That’s definitely one way we get past the bad ones and find a spark. Tossing them onto a wall and seeing what sticks is the best method.
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?
Our brains are always in the future so I guess you could say we’re always isolating. It’s very freeing to always be thinking ahead on where humanity is going, the possibilities and pitfalls are endless. It gives way to creativity and that’s the best feeling. While we’re not a part of any one Sci-Fi community, we like to think we’re a part of all. Sci-Fi brings people together and helps our imaginations run wild. Taking you out of reality and into worlds we can only dream of...for now at least.
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 am an advocate for the continuation of discovery whether it’s in Cinema, video games, space travel, etc. I think that the beauty of both existing is using both analog technology and digital. I don’t think there’s a disconnect between the technology I make films about and technology I make films WITH. Personally, when I’m writing sci-fi, mostly it’s taken from the technology and science we know now and expanding on the possibilities of the discoveries it can reach, which is a really wonderful thing.
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?
I look literally everywhere. I watch films, television, read comics, and play video games - there are so many worlds that have been created by extremely talented people and I love diving into their work to see how they’ve tackled the creation of it. I also enjoy experimenting with the devices and materials I have around me. I like to Cosplay and most of cosplaying is taking things that are normal and finding a way to recreate a prop from a video game or film I love.
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, Phillip K Dick, Practical, BOTH Dystopia and Utopia - they’re both so freaking fun to imagine! Lastly, Post Apocalypse!