The musical score was excellent and caused me to further relate to what the character was going through. What made you decide to make the score such a big part of the film?
Music is always a huge part of my process as far as imagining the world of the film and the character. Dolores was especially fun to score because of the Mexican American cultural references. I grew up on the border of Mexico in Texas, and for example, the song in the party scene was definitely one that played at most parties I went to. "La Noche de Mi Mal," the song that plays when we see Mama's dream sequence, has the tragic quality I wanted to bring to that scene, so that we see her vulnerability. One of my favorite directors is Tarantino, whose films always have scores that blow me away, so I think there's that influence and that urge in me to attempt to do something as impactful or even a fraction as impactful with the music I choose to include in my work.
The use of both Spanish and English in the film was a really interesting choice. What made you want to include this bilingual element?
I grew up Bilingual. I think it is a very common thing for Mexican-American and Hispanic families that live in the United States to speak both languages depending on the situation. Growing up, if I was at home, we spoke Spanish. It was my first language and my father said he always knew we would learn English in school so he was more concerned with us speaking Spanish at home. To this day I am extremely thankful he did so. Dolores's mother is Mexican born, and so speaks mostly Spanish. The film is also based in LA, where Dolores and her friends would speak both languages.
Everything about this film felt so specific and personal to me, and I think it painted a very clear picture of the culture you were trying to capture. What was the inspiration for the story and how long did it take to complete from conception to completion?
I'm so happy to hear that because it was very specific and personal to me. I am a white presenting Hispanic person, as is Dolores. The film is not biographical, but definitely deals with a lot of the themes that I grew up around. My nickname growing up was Guera, which means Blondie. The music, costuming, set design, locations were all inspired by my home town of Laredo as well as by Los Angeles where I live now. My very talented friend and co-writer Camilo allowed us the use of his grandmother's house, which he grew up in. I think all of these elements lent themselves to the personal feel of the film. I conceived the idea and beginnings of the script about three years ago, but filming and post production took about 6 months, so I would say if we were being technical about it then it took 3 years from conception to completion.
Did you have a specific audience in mind when you were creating the story?
When I make my films, my hope is that they will attract the people that they are meant to attract naturally. I believe that specificity is key when making any artistic work, and that when you have that, the work will speak for itself and those who love it will love it and those who don't won't and that is 100% okay. The goal is that those who see it are affected by it and able to process the themes how they wish.
One of the biggest themes of this film was embracing your identity and heritage. I'm curious to know if Dolores got "Guerita" tattooed on her back as an act of rebellion or if it was more of an act of acceptance of her identity?
I love this question! I like to leave the endings of my films a bit ambiguous, so that the audience can decide for themselves what the final verdict may be. However, I do feel that Dolores's tattoo was a bit of both rebellion and acceptance of her identity. The fact that Guerita means Blondie, something closely tied to her light hair and skin, but is a Spanish word in itself, I think exemplifies both parts of her Mexican American identity, as well as her youth and sort of beautiful rebellion.