Support EL CULTO DE LA MUERTE!

Director Emily Esperanza applying sugar skull makeup to Maureen Neer of Soddy Daisy, one of the bands contributing to the film's soundtrack

Director Emily Esperanza applying sugar skull makeup to Maureen Neer of Soddy Daisy, one of the bands contributing to the film's soundtrack

Some very passionate individuals need your help.

Only a few months ago I was asked to shoot a small scene for a little film that my friend Emily Esperanza was working on. Since that shoot, I was drafted on as one of the two cinematographers for the incredibly ambitious film project known as El Culto De La Muerte (The Cult of the Dead). Under Emily's direction, I was given the freedom to experiment beyond my wildest dreams (in all seriousness). The images I created for El Culto are by far the most interesting I've ever crafted.

Using a combination of vintage lenses (some of which are broken, or considered optically inferior to many of today's modern lenses), with various vintage, obsolete, screw-on filters, combined with a good helping of Dogme-inspired frenetic camerawork, I was given the freedom to craft unique images with an filmic, baked-in look that allowed my digital cinematography to take on a life of its own. No other filmmaker I've worked with has given me this level of freedom nor the inspiration to take risks with what would be normally considered imperfect and risky methods to tell stories through images.

Director Emily Esperanza as "Alex" with Aral Johnson as "Francis" in Chicago's Humboldt Park. Shot on a broken, scratched, and fungus-ridden mid-1960's Vivitar 35mm lens that I found in a broken lens bin at an old camera shop and bought for 5 dollars. 

Director Emily Esperanza as "Alex" with Aral Johnson as "Francis" in Chicago's Humboldt Park. Shot on a broken, scratched, and fungus-ridden mid-1960's Vivitar 35mm lens that I found in a broken lens bin at an old camera shop and bought for 5 dollars. 

Emily's creative vision, one that relies heavily on experimentation and improvisation, is a breath of fresh air, to say the least. Using a combination of digital video, analogue vhs, 35mm, and Super 8mm film, along a mix of documentary and narrative segments, EL CULTO DE LA MUERTE is a pastiche that spits in the face of the idea that everything has been done before. 

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The documentary portion, exploring Mexican culture's connection with death, has already been shot. The narrative portion that takes place in Chicago is currently in production. But there's one last piece of the puzzle. In order to finish the film, we need to travel to Oaxaca, Mexico, to the complete the remainder of the narrative portion. I wish it would be as simple as hopping on a plane one weekend and shooting some footage. It's not. We need to raise some money to pay for transportation, materials, crew, and everything in between needed to finish shooting this unique adventure. 

You can visit the film's Kickstarter page here:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/emilyesperanza/el-culto-de-la-muerte-the-cult-of-the-dead

If funded, not only do I get a trip to Oaxaca (seriously, get me out of the city), but American independent cinema gains an eclectic, unique, and daring vision from an incredibly passionate and driven artist. We need your help. Every cent counts.