Beaten won Best Feature Film - Less than $5000 Award in the 5th Season of MP Film Award Arturo Portillo Director & Writer of the Film Beaten agree to interview with us.
Arturo got bit by the filmmaking bug when he was 4 years old and by the time he was in sixth grade, he wrote his first children's fable called, "The Three Duck Brothers: Go to the Woods" for his writing class in elementary school. This also sparked an interest in writing. When he was in college, he studied TV News Production because it was the closest thing to filmmaking in his city. While there, he had written 4 feature length screenplays and was able to get one of his short scripts produced into a short film. A few years after graduating college, he had written his award-winning film "Beaten" and saved up his money to buy himself a DSLR camera so that he can film it with his friends. It took him 3 years to finish "Beaten;" filming mostly on the weekends with his friends. When he finished "Beaten" and began submitting to film festival, it didn't do so well, but Arturo pursued and kept on submitting his first feature film. Arturo did not expect to see "Beaten" do so well in the film festival circuit. It has won 35 awards so far from 2019-2020. Arturo is now working on a horror feature film and hopes to submit it to more film festivals than he did with "Beaten."
About the Film: Synopsis: Beaten Film Synopsis:
A corrupt mayor, Henry Derringer, hires a hitman known only as Bruise to kill off a former employee named Redd because he believes he stole some files that can implicate the mayor and his colleagues in a bribery scheme for votes. But when the mayor's colleagues intervene and hire their own goons to kill off Redd, it goes horribly wrong. Caught in the crossfire in a hit and run and just as Bruise was about to kill Redd, Cindy gets killed who is not only Redd's sister but also Bruise's fiancée. At Cindy's grave, Redd and Bruise form a partnership to seek vengeance against all who participated in Cindy's death. With the aide of their mysterious friend, Randy; who has his own problems trying to elude thugs from taking his life, he finds his way to the rescue... just barely.
What was your drive behind making this film?
Arturo Portillo: My drive was getting frustrated with not getting anywhere with my screenplays. No one was interested in reading my scripts or producing them. I also had no luck finding a literary agent to help me sell my scripts or at least to pitch to producers. I got tired of waiting and started "doing." Nothing is going to fall on my lap; I had to do be the go-getter. If I made a feature film, I can get out there... but also, I would feel accomplished.
How you feel when you are awarded with the MP FILM AWARD Award?
Arturo Portillo: I was definitely speechless. I had to tell everyone about all of the hard work that we accomplished. All those three long hard years came with relief. I didn't think my movie "Beaten" would win anything. All I wanted was to make a movie and to show that I could make a movie. I just wanted to get the word out for my first feature film. I made the movie with no money at all. I just saved up to buy the DSLR camera and from there, "Beaten" was made.
Can you tell us about the greatest moment during shooting this film?
Arturo Portillo: The greatest moment during shooting was filming at the carnival. We had so much fun getting on rides and filming the actors as they walked around. We filmed a lot, but only a pinch was shown in the film. The lights, the atmosphere, and the enjoyment from the community made that place come alive. We all decided to film on a whim, and I just came up with the idea of reminiscing with the main characters before tragedy struck. Two of the main bad guys are hidden in the background as the main characters walk around. This was before the bad guys even knew who the main characters were.
How rigorously did you stick to the script while shooting?
Arturo Portillo: I would say 80% of the script was fulfilled, but the other percent was changed the day of or on the spot. We ran into a lot of problems and had to make changes right there and then. I also had to change the whole fighting/brawling scene because it would be too difficult to shoot. It was supposed to have taken place inside of a dilapidated racetrack warehouse with brutal hand-to-hand combat. Maybe I can make a sequel and incorporate what I couldn't include in the original.
Where there any onset problems During the filming of the film & how did you deal with it?
Arturo Portillo: There were a few problems with trying to get all the actors together. I definitely had to find a way around it. I would shoot with who ever was available, and then shoot the next day with the other actors and get their close ups. You cannot tell in the movie, but, if you see close ups, those were shot on a different day. Like the cemetery scenes. Also, the first scene we shot were the Mayor's scenes in his office. We only had access to it for that whole day. I didn't have a microphone at the time and just used a stand along voice recorder. The audio was horrible, so later on, when the movie was finished, I contacted the actors and recorded their dialogue with a better microphone. It was my first time doing ADR. It was a tedious time trying to match the same style of cadence from the acting from that very first day of filming, but we pulled it off.
Do you have any advice for young filmmaker out there? Or like yourself?
Arturo Portillo: Definitely... if you are going to make a movie, GET YOURSELF A MICROPHONE! You can film with anything now-a-days, but audio is the most important. If you have good audio, you're good to go. I do recommend emulating your favorite films to get a better idea on how to setup your camera. If you want to make a movie, DO IT! Don't let anyone tell you that you can't. They are the ones stopping you, not you. You can film a movie with about any type of camera today. Your smartphone for instance. Later on down the line, you'll be able to get better gear. The point is to film, film, film. You'll definitely get better at your craft and begin developing your own style.
Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?
Arturo Portillo: I don't think that it's essential, but it would be a great venture. You'll meet other people with the same ideas and interests as you. You may be able to find your DP or your Director, etc. But for those who do not have the funding to attend a film school, there are plenty of resources available for budding young filmmakers, like books, online tutorials on streaming platforms, etc. I didn't attend film school, but I did go to college and took TV News Production and learned a lot there, like how to light, how to operate a news camera, etc.
Which film has inspired you the most?
Arturo Portillo: The film which has inspired me the most has to be "No Country For Old Men." There were a few before I saw this movie, like "Jaws" or "Psycho." But "No Country For Old Me" did it for me. The storytelling, the lighting, the camera placement, all of that really gripped my attention. I tried to incorporate some of that technique with "Beaten."
Which particular film maker has influenced you the most?
Arturo Portillo: There have been plenty of filmmakers who have influenced me, but I started to appreciate films in the early 90s when I was a teenager. I couldn't just say one filmmaker, each filmmaker has their own traits. I would say John Carpenter for horror and suspense, Walter Hill for action and buddy films, Quentin Tarantino for scriptwriting, and Stephen Spielberg for the magic behind his style. But the filmmaker who is really intriguing me now is Denis Villeneuve.
Which book would you love to make a film out of one day?
Arturo Portillo: The book I would really love to make would have to be "Replay" by Ken Grimwood. It's about a guy who gets a heart attack and dies but ends up waking up as his younger self and reliving his life all over again, but as he reaches the age he died, he gets that same heart attack and dies and relives his youth again, but at a different older age. It's a very intriguing and fun read. How would you live your life if you had the opportunity?
If you got the opportunity to go back in time & change something in any particular movie of yours, then which movie & what changes will you opt for?
Arturo Portillo: If I could go back in time, I would have filmed my movie when I had the idea to want to film instead of just talking about filming. "Beaten" was my first feature film and I would have added more action that I wish I could have added, like a longer fighting scene possibly a car chase scene that is more impactful.
If you were to shoot the film again, what would you do differently?
Arturo Portillo: I would keep the script how I originally wrote it and possibly get a well-known actor in the mix.
What is your greatest achievement till date?
Arturo Portillo: My greatest achievement is accomplishing my first feature film. Having friends that stuck with you to see the movie finished and learning of the results of the film after entering it to film festivals. "Beaten" has won 35 awards and some of them went to the actors. They were definitely overjoyed, as I was of learning of their own accomplishments.
How do you pick yourself up after a failed film?
Arturo Portillo: You just dust yourself off and continue forward. You can't go backward, only forward. You learn from your mistakes and you avoid those mistakes. You can't keep that failed movie in the back of your head, it's just going to annoy you. You just get up, dust yourself off, chug from your favorite drink, and kick butt on your next film.
Where our viewers can catch you (share your social media)?
Arturo Portillo: I'm working on a ghost hunting paranormal TV Show on YouTube called "Cast into the Void." You can find us investigating the unknown there. Here is the link: www.youtube.com/channel/UC62qMjflbxGuaJ3G6FD2YUA
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