Interview with H0us3 Director Manolo

Interview with H0us3 Director Manolo. Of all the things I do here at THiNC., nothing gets me more excited than talking to writers and directors. I get especially excited when the writer IS the director. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Sometimes I find myself talking to actors, and I literally have no idea what to talk to them about. “So, was it hard, um, crying, like that? Seems hard.” No. I’m not a natural there. But getting the opportunity to talk about the writer’s ideas, and the director’s vision?? Man. I’m in heaven when I get opportunities like that. AND TODAY!! Today is just that day, wherein I get to bring you a conversation I had with Manolo Manguia about his new movie H0us3 out on Prime.

H0us3 is a Coherence-esque, closed box, thinker of a film with a really fantastic twist ending. Please! Do me a solid and do not read this interview, or my in-depth breakdown of the film, until you’ve watched the film. Oh, what was that? Did you say something? Yes… I said watch this film. No, really – watch it. Why? Because Manolo has pushed his movie out to Prime, and he hasn’t received any bling for doing so on the front end. And his next movie won’t happen until you guys just stream the heck out of this movie. I’m super serious here. Heck, Prime is free to you – click on the link and let it run in the background for heaven’s sakes! I mean, yes, this movie is totally worth watching… and I loved everything about it. But we can all lean in and support a new Indie Film maker in this small and simple way. Great. Wait, what did I want you guys to do? I’ve forgotten already. Oh, that’s right, I want you to watch the film. That’s right! hahaha.

Let’s get to it. But I promise you – if you haven’t watched it? Manolo cracks this thing wide open and spills all the juice on the ending of the movie. TRUST ME here on this one. I’ve never seen a director spill this much on their own movie. It’s brilliant. Alright, let’s do this:

THiNC. – “This looks like it was your first film??!? Congratulations!! You did an amazing job if this really is your first cut at movie making. H0us3 was a really well done closed box film, with a strong script and interesting seed idea. How did you decide that you were going to make a movie? Where did the idea to say, “ACTION”! was what you wanted to do?”

Manolo – “Greetings everybody. Thank you very much Taylor for watching our humble film and for this interview. It’s an honor.

“I studied film school in Barcelona, where I met really good contacts. We built a small group with Fernando Duran, with Sergio Martinez and with Cristina Raya. We built our own small Production company and we started to shoot shorts. First it was “Colmillos de Felpa”, directed by Sergio Martinez, where I took the DOP tasks. Then I directed short films “GOW” and “TORN”. And soon after that, I decided it was time to move forward. I found myself strong enough, both physically and mentally, to shoot a whole feature film. Many people told me I was crazy. :-) . But we wrote a nice solid story, we put everything we had in the table and we managed to find a way to shoot the film.”

THiNC. – “Where did the idea for the screenplay come from? It’s sort of a time machine….. but not. It’s sort of a warning to modern society… but not. It’s kind of a Coherence movie sibling…. but not. This is a very fresh idea and it was a lot of fun trying to guess where your movie was going to go.”

Manolo – “When we decided to move forward and do this, we had to be realistic, and our budget was very limited. We knew we couldn’t make a film with giant robots jumping between buildings. But we knew we could aim to something like Coherence or like The Invitation. Because those are the films we like the most and, to be honest, we used them as a model. I’m a big fan of Fantastic movies, with a clear reference to Back to the Future in our film, and I’m also an enthusiastic technology fan. So I tried to merge those two into a story. I also think every film should try to achieve three goals: To FORM, to INFORM and to ENTERTAIN. Our movie FORMS when we try to explain the most basic concepts of cybersecurity, such us the DDOS attack or the Man in the Middle. It INFORMS when we tell the audience about the risks behind the Darknet, the vulnerable passwords or the existence of the Wikileaks Insurance Files. And of course it ENTERTAINS when we switch to the science fiction part.

THiNC. – “I grew up in the hacking community back in high school, and work today in the technology sector (web and mobile sorts of stuff) and can verify that your long dialog runs on the threats to our security, our privacy, and our sanity are very very real. Are you really concerned about the state of iOT, security, and privacy, or was that all just a setup for the insurance drops and the ‘see the future’ app?”

Manolo – “Glad to read about your hacking background. That’s probably how you can guess that all the stories at the beginning of the film are real. The truth is they happened to me and my friends during my college years (I’m a Telecommunications Engineer). The stapler disk, the IRC chat closing with ALT+F4, … Some others are also real but more recent, like the 3D printing gun, the drones with routers and of course the Insurance Files. I’m definitely very concerned about cybersecurity. Same as you, I’ve been working on the technology sector for many years so I know a little about it. It makes me really happy when viewers change their passwords after watching our film. It’s too easy to get into anybody’s wifi. Most of the router passwords are really simple on their initial access (like admin/admin) and most of the wifi passwords are also visible in a label on the back of the router. How many times did you walk into a coffee place or a bar and you noticed the router in a corner. You would literally just need around five seconds of distraction on the one preparing your coffee to take a picture of the back of the router. Then you could go into the parking lot, connect to the wifi with your laptop, change the admin password in the router so you’re the only one with access, allow your IP WAN connection from your favorite VPN service and then just go home to rest, knowing you’ll be able to sniff and monitor all the data traffic going through that router while sitting in your home couch. And if there is a security camera using the router, you would probably also reach that one.”

THiNC. – “How did you find your cast for the film? And was the script detailed, or more of an ad-libbed script like Coherence did it? The tech riffs were something else.”

Manolo – “Orson Welles recommended always to treat your cast and your film crew as if they were a family. I tried to follow that advice. The first one in the cast was Cristina Raya (she plays Lucia) because since the film school she’s a constant actress in our projects. Cristina introduced us to Victor Gomez (he plays Ricardo) and he helped us a lot with the casting because he knows a lot of actors. From him we reached some others and little by little we found the right people for the right roles. We did not get to publish any ad, nor anything similar. And I can tell you the actors joined the project because of the script. They liked to read something fresh and different. Not the usual boy meets girl, but hackers and new technologies with some science fiction. In that sense, the script was very well prepared. We wrote it up to four times and we did lots of rehearsals before actually shooting the film. That was a big help for the actors. And for me. Because I could adjust their characters to the way I had in mind, although all of them gave something additional to their characters I could not see before. It’s a magical moment when something you write gets played by actors and suddenly it becomes something else, something real. So basically all the tech riffs were well prepared in advance.

THiNC. – “Let’s talk about that amazing ending! So, as I see it, there are two options of what happened: A) This was all an elaborate hoax and they had a good laugh at everyone’s expense. or B) The world is ending soon, and nothing they can do can stop it. Personally, I think it’s definitely option B, option A doesn’t add up at all. Is there something I am missing here?

“I can’t remember the character’s name… but the woman that calls and sends information out of the house? Is she the cause for the end of the world? But, if so, then it only started the downfall after she left the house, correct? So that she could get cell reception? And if she had stayed in the house, it wouldn’t have caused the end of the world, no? So ultimately, did the end of the world get caused by David’s lie about the app? Which then allowed everyone to think it was a joke?”

Manolo – “The ending is not an easy one. I’m aware of that. As you just said, some people think it was a joke and some don’t. And then some people get to catch the following:

“Key facts:
– First time the group sees three hours into the future, there are three small shot glasses on the table.
– Julia in the bathroom tries to call but as there is no coverage, leaves a voice message to her lover saying “I’ve just found out about something to make us both rich.”
– During the chat session, the group finds out somebody leaked their discovery, despite the fact Rafa clearly told everybody not to share it under any circumstance. And because of that “they are being removed.” That caused the AI to end up with the whole apocalyptic future. But they don’t know who leaked it. Only Julia knows, because she did.

“Final act:
David, the most systematic and precise one in the team, is analyzing all the variables. He knows AI caused all of this. He knows it’s because somebody leaked the information. He needs to stop the leak. But he doesn’t know who did it. Then he has an idea. What if he could convince everyone else this is a joke. Then there may be no leak. So he needs a plan. He won’t be able to convince everybody else by himself. No way. He needs help. Who? Rafa, of course. His teammate at the beginning of the film. We already know the two of them can beat anybody else if they work together. So David stares at Rafa. And with his eyes he says “I’m going to do something, go along with it and support me.” Rafa’s eyes are saying “I don’t know what you’re doing, but go ahead, I will support you.” Then David tells everybody this was all a joke. Rafa quickly understands what´s going on and supports the story. They are very smart, and they build the story based on the questions they get. After some convincing explanations, everybody buys it. The leaked is stopped. When Julia meets her lover the week after and he asks “What was that thing so important you wanted to talk about,” she will have to answer “Nothing important, just a bad joke.” Everybody buys it but Monica. As a good hacker, the moment she touched the app she made a copy, although she was told not to. And now she has installed the app in her own phone. So she doesn’t buy the whole thing about “This is a joke, the app is a fake.” Her last sentence “I did install the application in my cell phone” really means “You think I’m an idiot? This is not a joke, I have a copy of the app in my phone now and it works.” What happens next? You can guess it. It is not shown in the film, but David and Rafa explain the truth to Monica and why they said this was all a joke. She understands, joins them and toasts with them. Hence, the three small shot glasses instead of the two we see at the end of the film.”

THiNC. – “Are you familiar with the show Black Mirror? Your movie definitely feels like a Black Mirror episode! (That is meant to be a huge compliment because Black Mirror brings up lots of amazing tech chaos questions like your film does.) Do you have another project that you are working on? We would love to see more of your movies as soon as possible!!”

Manolo – “It’s a wonderful compliment when people compare our humble film to Coherence or to Black Mirror. The truth is that our film is a low budget one and we did it with our own production company. Any future project depends on recovering our initial investment because we don’t have any more savings. Amazon Prime Video is an ideal place for that. Because it allows independent filmmakers like us, to distribute our films in their network without a cost, and actually to get some profits for every view. So, the more people watching our film, the more possibilities we have to make another one. And that’s why this interview is so beneficial for us, because it goes in the right direction. And I’m optimistic: I hope we can get to shoot another film at some point. :-)”

See? I told you Manolo brought it in this interview! Man, that is fantastic. So good. Manolo! Thank you so much for taking time out to talk to the THiNC. readers about your fantastic film. It was a total blast to watch, but it was even more fun to talk with you about it. Until next time guys!!

Edited by: CY