Call Answered: Mateo Márquez: "The Invaders"
Mateo Márquez’s short film, The Invaders, is really great! It's VERY suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! I found out about this important & timely film from Claudia Murdoch (Cup of Joe Film), whom I met last fall at NYC’s New Fest (New Fest will be held from October 24-30 this year and the program looks really exciting) after viewing Bryan Powers’ film Time is the Longest Distance, which Claudia produced. Claudia & I stayed in touch and I’m just thrilled she remembered me.
The Invaders is about a girl who is being followed home and finds herself facing a sinister force that threatens her entire existence.
The Invaders has been making a name for itself at various film festivals around the world. As of now, in October/November alone, this powerful short will be seen in eleven festivals:
West Virginia FILMmakers Festival, Sutton, WV on October 7
TOHorror Film Festival, Turin, Italy, on October 11
Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Brooklyn, NY on October 13 & 14
BFI London Film Festival, London, UK on October 14 & 18
Kansas International Film Festival, Overland Park, KS on October 15
Mystic Film Festival, Mystic, CT on October 19
Adirondack Film Festival, Glens Falls, NY on October 19 & 20
Celluloid Screams, Sheffield, United Kingdom on October 20
Rome International Film Festival, GA TBD - festival will be from Nov. 1-4
Indie Memphis Film Festival, Memphis, TN on November 2
YoFi Fest, Yonkers, NY on November 10
1. I have to start off by telling you, your film The Invaders is really great! It's VERY suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time! So, when did you first decide to write this short? Thank you for your kind words, Adam. I decided to write this film shortly after the 2016 presidential election. The rhetoric of politics had shifted towards fearmongering and hate speech against Muslims and other ethnic groups. I wanted to create a film that actualized what many people feared could become the America of tomorrow.
2. How long after you had the idea, did it take you to write, film, edit, & release? The creation of the film took nine months from pre-production to post-production. We started our festival run in April of 2018 with the premiere of The Invaders at Vail Film Festival, and the film continues to resonate with festival programmers. Our film will screen at eleven more festivals in the next few weeks, including the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival, Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Mystic Film Festival, YoFi Fest, and Adirondack Film Festival. Once our festival run comes to an end, our team will decide what the next step is for the film.
3. I LOVE the way The Invaders is filmed...very sci-fi meets Law & Order: SVU. What influenced you to style the filming of The Invaders in this manner? From the inception of the film, we aimed at creating an atmosphere of dread and other-worldliness. We used sci-fi, horror and supernatural elements to emphasize the horrific nature of the film’s subject matter and maintained the suspense to the very end. Also, the sci-fi/horror film format has allowed us to reach a wider audience than a political or social-justice drama would have found.
4. What was the hardest part of the short to write and what was the easiest? The hardest part of the short to write was finding a balance between establishing the horror and creating empathy for the main character. We wanted the audience to understand who she is and feel her pain and terror without much dialogue. The easiest parts to write were perhaps the generic horror sequences in the film that set the dark mood of the world we depict.
5. The film is about a Muslim girl being followed home who finds herself facing a sinister force that threatens her entire existence. This topic is so timely! What do you hope viewers come away with after seeing The Invaders? I hope viewers will identify with “Jayla,” the main character, feel empathy for her, and realize the absurdity of dehumanizing and scapegoating an entire group of people. The Invaders aims to make people think differently about Islamophobia. Many of us have been bystanders in uncomfortable or unjust situations, and we would love it if the film made people more aware of what we all have in common, and become more active in stopping the hate.
6. The Invaders is being shown as an Official Selection in several film festivals in October, among them are screenings at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival on October 13 at the IFP Made in NY Media Center and on October 14 at the Wythe Hotel Cinema in Brooklyn, and at the British Film Institute London Film Festival on Oct. 14 & 18. What excites you about having this film in these festivals? Showing your film in front of audiences, who are seeing it for the first time, is always an exciting and also a bit of a nerve-racking experience. You never know how the audience is going to take the material and accept the message of the film. However, it is very rewarding for me and my producers to engage with local audiences, hear their reactions, and become part of festival communities.
All film festivals are unique, are located in different parts of the world, and their audiences feature their own particular demographics. Receiving direct and immediate feedback on The Invaders after a screening and having an exchange of opinions and ideas on our film is one of the most beautiful aspects of independent film festivals.
7. What is the pitch process like to these festivals? Have any festivals rejected it based upon the subject matter? One of producers of The Invaders, Claudia Murdoch, was in charge of our festival submissions. Claudia has a background in marketing and advertising, and she has created a well-thought-out campaign to place our film with festivals. From the creation of an interestingly written, visually engaging electronic press kit to selecting the right festivals for your film, and creating ties with festival programmers, there is much you can do to get your work screened. We have received a fair amount of rejections from festivals, but we do not know whether the film has been declined because of the subject matter. We also received many wonderful comments on The Invaders from festival programmers, a lot of great media coverage, and screenings in many regions where you would expect more conservative audiences.
8. Do you have plans to expand this to a feature film? I would love to explore the possibility, but right now I have no intention of expanding the content. I am currently pursuing graduate studies in the Masters of Directing program at the School of Visual Arts in New York, and I am focusing on developing my thesis film.
9. Since the short is called The Invaders who are some "invaders" in your life you've had to combat? The film is based on a world where fear has created this societal system that targets a specific group of people. Anxiety used to let me perceive new neighbors, new co-workers, and other people I met, the government, or simply new customs, as “invaders” in my personal space. Over time, instead of letting the fear or uneasiness control me, I have learned to understand that, often, what I may see as an intruder may be an ally. The Invaders shows what happens when we choose rejection and violence over understanding our own fears.
More on Mateo:
Mateo Márquez is a director and writer from New York City. His body of work includes narrative and music video content that have garnered attention in the U.S and abroad. He holds a BA from the City University of New York's renowned Hunter College, where he was selected for a BAFTA Scholarship in 2015. Mateo infuses into his projects stories that challenge existing perceptions of the disenfranchised. His most notable works to date are The Blood in Our Veins (2015) and most recently The Invaders (2017), which is currently receiving critical acclaim on the festival circuit throughout the world.