SxSW 2018 Interview: RUSH HOUR director Luciana Kaplan

Luciana Kaplan
RUSH HOUR – At SxSW 2018

“We all know people that spend half of their day commuting to work. The emotional cost of this fact is huge and shapes the life of millions of people everyday. Rush Hour focus on the impact of all the lost hours spend in transportation of 3 different people in 3 different different and complicated cities around the world, inviting the viewer to reflect on their own life and the decisions they take everyday, in order to survive. In the end an important question it’s posed: Is it worth it?” Director Luciana Kaplan on RUSH HOUR which screens at SxSW Conference & Festivals 2018.

So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.

I decided I want to make films since I was 15 years old. I grew up in a cinephile family! We spent a lot of time going to the movies and talking about films, (actors, directors) from all over the world That formed my personality and tastes a great deal. I entered to film school in Mexico when I was 19 years old and since then I devoted my life to filmmaking, specially documentary film. Besides directing, I also worked as  the director of the Gucci Ambulante post production grants for seven years and then start working as a teacher, coordinating the Documentary Program at the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica. Teaching helped a lot to my documentarian career, creating a bigger knowledge and conscience about film making, discovering a whole new pack of interesting film makers as well as imaginative ways to tell a story.

How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!

I thought about this project inspired by a babysitter that used to take care of my daughter when she was just a baby. She spent six hours in transportation daily to come to my house. A lot of things happened to her while she traveled. I felt really interested in telling the story of commuters. In a very early stage I was lucky to find three producers who got interested in the project and accepted to bring it together with me. We found all the money we needed for the production really quick as well, thanks to a  Mexican Film program called Eficine, in which tax enterprise payers support a film instead of paying the tax to the government. We mixed pre production with filming. We started in Mexico, because it was much easier. To find the characters in LA and Istanbul took us much more time, we had to hire a fixer to find it for us and scout to the different options.That took time. We spent two years shooting, in 3 different countries and start editing in the meantime. When I had all the material at last, we spent like 6 more months editing, finding the story, the mood,  the tone,the paste.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee are we talking about here?

Coffee and pressure… and the curiosity of what’s going to happen next during the making of the film. Documentary filmmaking it’s always a lot of fun and full or risks, you never really know what’s going to happen and even if it could be stressful , it comes with a high level of adrenaline

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

This was a very complicated project, told in 3 different cities spoken in 3 different languages. I felt it was like making 3 movies at the same time. It included travelling a lot, and as I’m a mother, planning was hard. The other challenging part was the editing part. There were many editing options in this films, I mean many different and interesting ways to tell the story, it was hard to choose which was the best way to expose what I felt about the subject. I think watching the final cut and liking in in the end was a great joy. Winning the Best Documentary Prize at the Morelia Film Festival last October was a very rewarding too.

I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and the visual design?

We filmed with a Sony F55 camera. And I think that gave the film a very cinematic and beautiful look. For some of the scenes, especially the one shot inside crowded transportation, we needed to change to a small one, the Sony AS7-2. The work with the DP was quite enjoyable. We watched films together, scouted, talked about what we were looking for, testing options. We have the same  taste for films, so that helped a lot. Specially we were very inspired by the films of Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the Turkish director and The Dardenne Brothers from Belgium. When we started shooting, things were much easier, we both knew what we were looking for frame-wise, emotions and atmospheres.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

This is the first time I present Rush Hour outside Mexico, so I’m really curious about what the American audience will think and feel about the film, specially because one of the characters it’s from L.A.Will they feel the characters near to their reality or not, and why?

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?

For festivals: Ambulante and Cinema Planeta are upcoming in Mexico, and we are still waiting for answers from other film festivals around the world.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

I would love to show the film in Istanbul, and at the Toronto International Film Festival!

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive through a screening, even if it was your own?

We are all trying to watch the film!

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

To find their own vision, their unique POV about life, it’s important to discover who you are, as  person and as a filmmaker.

And finally, what is your favorite movie of all time?

My favourite movie is definitely Wim Wenders’ Alice in the Cities!


RUSH HOUR is an official selection of SxSW 2018 Conference & Festivals. To follow the progress of RUSH HOUR visit the official Facebook page:

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