An Interview with Filmmaker Pablo Absento [WiHM 2017]

Pablo Absento is a writer, director, and producer of short films with three under her belt: Call My Name, Shi, and Japanese Legends: Slit (in which she also stars).

Pablo, please tell us a bit about what drives you to create films.
A passion for storytelling. I have so many ideas and actually consider myself as a decent writer. But at the same time I am a very visual person. Visual part is one of the most essential things to me, so I like to create my own worlds based on my own stories and scripts. Every film is a journey with ups and downs, but it feels so attaining when one is complete.

Why do you think you find yourself working in the horror genre?
I’ve always liked horror films and stories. Horror is fascinating. This is the dream job – to create something in the genre you like most, to make horror films.

As a horror filmmaker, what inspires you?
All things around me. Stories, people, books, films… I’m quite observant, so that also helps get inspiration from a lot of details.

What are some of your big influences and why do they resonate with you?
Well, this list can be very long. Films like The Shining, The Thing, old traditional Japanese horror flicks, Guillermo del Toro films, David Lynch. Music: Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim and other classic old gothic rock bands. Books of Stephen King, Lovecraft, Poe, Marquez, Bradbury and all myths and folklore tales. And these are some just to start with. All of these pieces of art are beautiful, sometimes sad at the same time and have this atmosphere, this kind of aftertaste… They make you feel and think even afterwards. That’s what I want to do with horror as well.

As a woman in a still male-dominated genre, what does the Women in Horror Month movement mean to you?
That’s an awesome movement! My works have screened so many times all around the world due to the movement and I really appreciate it. Also I feel it’s getting bigger every year. More screenings, interviews and attention to women in horror each February.

Personally thinking, gender identity shouldn’t matter. If you are a good filmmaker/actor, you are a good filmmaker/actor, doesn’t matter if you are “male” or “female”. It’s still not like this for some people, but I hope those delimitations become history some day soon.

Who are other female horror filmmakers and writers you believe need more spotlight and why?
There are many examples. Want to use this opportunity and mention some of my friends from the industry, whose visions are so different, but each is amazing. Who are working so hard and inspire others. Shout out to Gigi Saul Guerrero, Katie Bonham, Izzy Lee, Pia Thrasher, Patricia Chica and many many more.

What would you say to a teen girl dreaming of making horror films, writing in the genre?
Just do it! The most difficult part is to start. That’s when you can feel the most scared, unconfident and vulnerable. But once you get started, things will get easier. And don’t stop, doesn’t matter what happens. Yes, there are a lot of highs and laws, there are a lot of obstacles and other things which try to stop you, make you give up. But this is all filmmaking! This is what makes things even more fun. So if it’s really your dream, keep making films, keep writing. You’ll be gaining experience, becoming more professional with every project and eventually get where you want to be.

On a more personal level, do you believe living in Tokyo, Japan has influenced your art?  If so, in what way?
One of my hobbies is researching on different countries’ folklore. I’ve been truly fascinated by ancient myths and legends from all around the world since I was little. Japanese folklore – one of the darkest and most mysterious one. It’s not only about “getting scared”, but also about learning things, reading between the lines, understanding more what the life is about.  I think Japan helped me find my cinematic voice. Not many people do what I do. Have been called “J-horror queen” and “Modern Lafcadio Hearn”! Guess for a reason (laughing).

What do you hope the public take away from your work?
It’s certainly the message. As a film-fan myself, I like films with messages, when people can realize or learn something after watching. Some movies are really entertaining, but there is barely something we can learn from them. I prefer to be not only an entertainer, but also a storyteller. And I like to make people imagine. To leave an open door for imagination is probably one of the most essential elements.

Please tell us about your upcoming work, what you have coming for fans of your work that you can talk about.
A lot of projects are lined up for this year. My team and I are developing a feature film, a TV-series and an anthology. Planning to shoot the feature first. It is a very interesting and unique idea with elements of suspense and human horror. We are working hard and hopefully soon our scripts turn to films and we can show people some fresh horrors!

Thank you Pablo for this opportunity and for showing us that badass ladies from all over are breaking the barriers of filmmaking.

SHI (the film got a retweet from Guillermo del Toro)
Japanese Legends: SLIT
Call My Name (first short)