THE GREAT BELOW, An Interview With “The Tunnel” Director CARLO LEDESMA

June 10, 2011

The Tunnel is a horror movie available free for download, put up on-line by the filmmakers and producers themselves. It’s now shaping up to be “the viral movie of the year.”

Set in the forgotten, underground railway tunnels of Sydney, Australia, it follows three broadcast journalists as they track down a story regarding a possible government cover-up of the city’s water shortage issues.

As these things go, however, the labyrinthine corridors holds secrets that skulk, live and hunt in a place where the darkness never goes out.And when you’ve only got a cam light and some flashlights against things that can see in the dark. . . well, survival horror here we come.

Morlocks? Mutants? Malevolent ghosts of wars past? The demon-possessed run amok? Make up your own theory but do yourself a favor and download the full movie HERE.  Or buy the DVD.

There’s some very eloquent images and vignette inserts in this movie that fit more in an art house film than a horror movie. But they’re a welcome poetic touch for me and they do tend to heighten the abandoned expanse, desolation and gloom of the underworld as opposed to the well-lighted, crowded business of the city above.

*   *   *

We were fortunate enough to score a short Q and A with the director CARLO LEDESMA, who also happens to be a multi-awarded (including a Mini Movie Channel Award for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival) Filipino filmmaker — i still remember the sports show Gameplan.

Raised in Bacolod, he moved to Sydney around 2005 and has since set up a thriving film making HQ there.

“I’m a huge cryptozoology fan so I wanted to put a definite mystery behind the creature lurking in the tunnels”

KARL R. De MESA: How’s your preparations for the coming zombie apocalypse?

CARLO LEDESMA: Got my bunker all set up with canned goods and an arsenal of bats, blades, and axes, all customized to apply maximum force trauma to the undead’s head. So yes, I’m ready.

KDM: People will readily recognize POV horror movies like Diary of the Dead, Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, etc in The Tunnel. Please tell us briefly about deciding on the material and the subterranean setting.

CL: The Tunnel was conceived when the film’s two writers, Enzo Tedeschi and Julian Harvey (who are also the producers and masterminds behind the film’s funding and distribution scheme) came across a news report about the tunnels underneath the Sydney business district. Just the idea of a vast network of tunnels and the fact that no one had ever done a film about them before, was enough to get their minds racing. We wanted to do a film about isolation.

In Australia, the obvious choice would be to set it in the Outback. But Jules had the great idea to set it in a place where the characters could be so close to civilization, yet still be so out of reach. The Sydney tunnels are just that- above your head, life goes on at its usual rapid pace but down there, if something unfortunate were to happen to you, no one from above would hear you.

 

KDM: The “open secret” suggestion about the existence of the creatures among the subway employees and homeless was a tasty bit of urban macabre. Are there any spooky real life events from which the underworld inhabitants were drawn from?  

CL: We wanted to put our own spin on the ‘found footage’ genre. The three of us come from documentary backgrounds so we thought of incorporating the found footage elements into a pseudo news story, a survivor’s narrative of what exactly happened in the tunnels. Granted, this posed the risk of removing certain suspenseful elements in the sense that we know who lives and dies but it was a risk we were willing to take.

bel delia as tv anchor natasha

“. . .The response has been phenomenal. We’re approaching half-a-million downloads on the official torrent site”

 

KDM: Any films/books/art that inspired your work on the movie directly?

CL: We looked at Touching The Void a lot. And of course we went through the whole gamut of found footage films (Blair Witch, Rec, Paranormal, etc), and also explored the mythologies of certain creatures- trolls and demons specifically. I’m a huge cryptozoology fan so I wanted to put a definite mystery behind the creature lurking in the tunnels, keep its appearance shrouded in the shadows as much as possible. We do have a very specific story for what the creature is, but it’s so much fun hearing people’s theories.

 

KDM: You put a public torrent up for free downloads. Tell us the motive behind that and your thoughts on the internet being a double-edged sword for greater access vis a vis rampant piracy.  

CL: I’d just like to clarify that we do not condone piracy by any means.  What we have done however, is tap into an audience that makes use of a technology that is impossible to ignore. By giving away our film for free, we are hoping that our film reaches as many people as possible and makes them freely decide whether they want to further support us or not.

They can buy the special edition DVD, download it onto their iPads, or simply make a donation. To date, the response has been phenomenal. We’re approaching half-a-million downloads on the official torrent site (vodo.net/thetunnel), DVD sales and rentals are doing extremely well, and we’ve gotten a TV and DVD distribution deal with a few more ready to go. We’re not saying that this is the ‘new’ way to get things done, but hopefully it will become a blueprint for filmmakers to further hone as they set about getting their own films out into the world.


“My childhood was peppered with stories of kapres, aswangs, dwendes, all of which frightened and fascinated me”

 

KDM: Tell us about being a Filipino filmmaker working in Australia. Care to tackle any Filipino lower mythology creatures in a future directorial project?

CL: I moved to Sydney seven years ago and I do feel like I’ve hit my stride here, creatively and professionally. Sydney is such a film-friendly place- the government is very supportive, the crews are world-class, and it is relatively easy to source out the latest in camera and sound equipment.

Having said that, I would absolutely love to work on Philippine-based projects in the near future. Having grown up in Bacolod, my childhood was peppered with stories of kapres, aswangs, dwendes, all of which frightened and fascinated me at the same time. The Philippines has such a rich mythological history I and I would love to put my own spin on it.

All photos by Alex Weltlinger.

~ 30

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One Response to “THE GREAT BELOW, An Interview With “The Tunnel” Director CARLO LEDESMA”

  1. […] Excerpts from my piece are below. And if you want a more in-depth piece, my brief Q and A with director CARLO LEDESMA is still up over HERE. […]

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