VIFF 2019 Interview – KILL THE BOY director Jan Pablo Villavicencio Borges

“KILL THE BOY is a “coming of age” short film about two “good” friends that go to the woods to play being adults. Smoking, trail-bike riding, talking about sex and girls and shooting a rifle. Between some challenges of a very harmful rivalry,  they will make a big mistake that will force them to stop playing and assume the responsibility of there reckless actions, changing their relationship forever.”

Congratulations on your film playing and welcome to VIFF! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

Yes, it is a real honor to be part of VIFF for the first time, also it is the world premier of the short film, so I am going to attend both screenings. I don’t want to miss it.

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 started like many other filmmakers when I was a kid in the movie theaters. Going to the movies every time I could. The laughs, the crying, the scares, the love, all the emotions that you could get from watching a film. I just wanted to recreate it, to make films that makes other people feel and think like I did. So, I started making short films since I was fourteen, I entered film school right after finishing high school and I haven’t stopped making short films and working in films ever since.

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

It is funny because I was going to produce it in the beginning. A friend of mine came with me with a screenplay for this short film, I read it and fell in love with it, he was going to direct and I was going to produce, but in the end he decided to step out of the director’s chair and let me do it. Then it was the long and difficult task of consolidating the work team, the logistics and the money. I was lucky because the cinematographer introduced me to Paulina, the producer, and she helped me a lot with the logistics. My brother, the other producer, helped me with the money. So I could just focused in the consolidation of the team, the rehearsals and all the things that has to do with directing.

Though I have never work with this team before, the shooting was very pleasant, the most part of the team are my friends since before. The cinematographer, the first, the production designer, the actors. So, it all went really smoothly, everyone understood the idea from the beginning and supported it to work better.

I also have the idea that a good shooting is the one where everyone has fun, so I try to make all my shootings stress free; well, that’s a lie, there is always stress, but make them the least stressful as possible.

The post production was the longest process in making the short film, I wanted to filmed a deer and have a special effect on it, but as we learned those animals are very shy, very frightened and apparently very fragile, so we spend months trying to get someone to let us filmed the deer in their sanctuary. Doing the edition a lot longer than we planned, but that was positive because it lets me experiment with a lot of different cuts and finding new ways to approach several scenes with the sound design and music.

Now I am very pleased with the end result, I think that -besides all the little things that could be better; the story and a specific feeling are conveying through, and that is the most important thing when making a film of a piece of art.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

The need of telling a story, that story, the story that borns in my mind and infested all my thoughts until it is done. The need of expressing my point of view of life to others. Also a lot of black tea.

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

Filming the deer was very difficult, I wanted to film real deers, not use stock, so we search for the right place that would let us film the deer in their conservation zone. Everybody that we approached told us that they were very shy and very frightened animals, that they will flee when they notice us, but for our fortune it was the right opposite. When we started filming them they started to threaten us, trying to make us leave their home, so we were a little frightened, but that moment was very important it makes me change the short a little making the deer threaten the characters, something I didn’t have in the screenplay.

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

We filmed in a RED Camara at 5K. Daniel Anguiano and I have been friends for almost ten years, but we have never worked together before KILL THE BOY. When I ask him to collaborate I told him I wanted the visual design to go with the dramatic conflict, so we entered in some rules. In some parts we were tied to use certain lenses to establish the connection of the characters with the forest, with nature, we also take that rule to the color correction. Also I wanted that in all the first half all the shots where two shots of the characters, I wanted that in all those shots both of the characters were framed together, this to highlight their relationship. In the second half they are separated by shot, highlighting that change in their relationship.

I the end, I think that a good film has to have the dramatic conflict present in all the departments: in the photography, the production design, the sound design, music, etc. Everything has to support this dramatic conflict.

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

To see the reactions of the audience, especially with the young audiences that may identify with the characters. See if the idea of what means to grow up really came through with them.

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

It going to be screened at the 18th Miami Short Film Festival in November, and I am hoping that the short gets more screenings around the world. Also I am waiting for the right time, the right festival, to premier it on Mexico.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive through a movie?

I shush them at first, but I would tell them to be respectful of the experience. To me seeing a film is a very powerful and emotional experience, especially if you are seeing it for the first time, you can’t have a second time, so if you are talking, texting, leaving halfway and returning later you are spoiling the experience, not only to the rest of the audience, but for yourself. 

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?

School is great, you learn a lot, but is not a necessity. I think that if you want to make movies just make movies, write a script, take a camera, get the help of your friends and go out and film it. But most important, keep making movies and don’t desist. Like a very good teacher once told me: “Filmmaking is not a race, is a marathon.”

And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen?

This is a very difficult question, I have a lot of favorite films, films that have changed my form of seeing and making movies. But I could say that my all time favorite movie is Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN by Alfonso Cuarón. I watched it for the first time when I was eleven and I remember that I said to myself, “This is the kind of film that I want to make one day”. The story, the technical prowess and that it was made on my own country make a strong impression on me. Actually this is the movie that pushed me to be a filmmaker. That is why is my all time favorite.

For this and more movies playing at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, point your browser to

Leave a Reply