‘La Carnada’ dir. Josh Soskin

Manny, a 13 year old boy from Tijuana, embarks on his first drug smuggle across the “Devil’s Highway,” a notoriously fatal stretch of desert on the Arizona/Mexico border.

Writer-Director: Josh Soskin
Producers: Ivan Diez Robeldo and Grace Jackson
DOP: Rob Hauer
Editor: Matthew Sultan
Key Cast: Angel Gabriel Soto

C8: Where did the idea for ‘La Carnada’ come from?

JS: It’s definitely a fictional story but it was very much inspired by the time I spent living and researching in both mainland Mexico and Tijuana and Baja. I thought decoys as a subject matter were really fascinating and wanted to write within that smuggling microcosm.

C8: This is the third short you have written. How long did the writing process take you?

JS: This one was insanely quick actually.  Two days or so to just spit it all out and then a week or so of revisions working with friends I trust.

C8: What advice do you have for emerging Writer-Directors?

JS: Oh man, not sure if I’m qualified to give advice considering I’m always seeking it, but I at least know what I’ve learned so far—which is you have to pick stories that are personal for you emotionally and intellectually so fascinating for you that you won’t get sick of them. Even making a short takes months and months of time so it has to be something you love on a visceral level. If it’s not, it’s probably not worth making.

C8: ‘La Carnada’ translates from Spanish to ‘The Bait’. What was the reasoning behind the title?

JS: Well once you’ve finished the film and read the translation the reasoning becomes very obvious but I was comfortable doing it because I knew that the near entirety of my audience would have know idea what La Carnada meant coming in. Therefore it would add to the twist /reveal of the film. And the truth is even a lot of the Spanish speakers I’ve spoken with we’re still surprised by the twist—they knew bait was involved but wasn’t sure who, when or why.

C8: You funded the film through a Kickstarter campaign. You initially set out to raise $15,000 but instead received over $24,000. Why do you think the campaign proved to be so popular?

JS: I think mostly because the amount of personal energy we all put into it. We were passionately rousing the troops up until the day of filming. I also think our prizes were unique. If people liked my photography it wasn’t a bad investment.

C8: What advice would you give to those embarking on their own crowdfunding campaign?

JS: I think it starts with a great concept and then a great video. You have to be raw and real and show people how much it means to you.  And then you have to go nuts and market the hell out of it.

C8: The film has played at a host of film festivals including the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. What has the reaction to the film been like?

JS: The reaction has been great and we’ve been thrilled to play so many festivals. I think probably the most meaningful reactions have come from Mexican audiences both at Tribeca and Guanajuato. The fact that they have loved it and believed in it as an authentic piece of storytelling has meant the most to me.

C8: ‘La Carnada’ is a short prequel to a feature you’re developing. Can you tell us what the feature focuses on? Does it start from where the short ends?

JS: Yes, originally the idea was that these were the same characters from a feature I wrote called ‘Smuggler’ but it was them 20 years before the movie starts. It’s basically the beginning of their working relationship together as smugglers. But to be honest, it evolved away from the feature and sort of became its own thing once I started working on it.  Right now I’m actually developing two features, both with other writers—one takes place in this type of world and the other is very different.

C8: You’re also a photographer. How has this influenced your film style?

JS: I got into photography really in the past two-three years as a means of filling in the boring gaps between motion picture projects. I don’t know if its changed my style, but it has allowed me to keep my eyes sharp. It’s like working out for directors from a visual perspective.

C8: As a photographer are you more particular about things like framing and lighting?

JS: Truthfully I’ve always been very particular and obsessive about framing and its something I take pride in but yes I think photography has tuned me on to natural light in a different way over the past years. It’s inspired me to use lights less and less and to more quickly access where I can place the camera to find good light.

C8: What do you think makes for a good collaboration?

JS: I think it has to be more than just supporting a singular vision. I think it has to mean changing the vision, making it better, adding layer upon layer to it. When people bring original ideas, even tiny things that spark something in you and push you into a new realm of thinking.

C8: What’s next for you? Any exciting projects?

JS: Well I mentioned the two feature scripts in development. Very excited about those, as they’re both with very talented writers. I’m also finishing up a few small projects, a photographic/filmmaking multimedia project called ‘The Untitled Underwear Project’ and I just finished shooting a short film/mini-documentary on professional surfer named Jared Mell in collaboration with Desillusion that I’m really excited about. Both of those should be coming out soon. Best way to stay in touch those kinds of things for me is probably Instagram (@joshsoskin). I have Twitter and Facebook but I find using more than one social media tool gets pretty exhausting.