Based on real events.
Trapped and tortured inside a Phoenix, Arizona 'Drop House', Manolo and a group of helpless, illegal migrants must unite and find a way to escape the violent Human Kidnapping Ring holding them hostage.
Interview with Director Felipe Rodriguez
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thanks!!! Kidnap WANTED to be made… It needed to be made! I was just the vessel!!!
Ha! I wonder if I could spend a whole interview answering ridiculous statements like that… In all seriousness, I made a documentary called “Wetback” a while back where we followed a few guys from Nicaragua that were trying to walk illegally to the USA. From Nicaragua! It was a bit of an eye opener, even for me who thought “I totally knew about what those people go through”.
The doc did really good and people kept wanting to discuss it with me, and one day a friend from LA casually told me about “Drop Houses in Phoenix”, and how it was a shame that we didn’t take our doc that far… I had no idea what “Drop House” even meant. And then when you look into something that crazy, it just kinda sticks with you.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
Because it’s the absolute best freaking movie you’ll ever see!!!! Is that a good answer or what?? All jokes aside, I think there’s a lot of really crazy things happening in our world today. People lock others in their houses and torture them to try to wring some money from them… In the US? In 2016? People need to watch Kidnap Capital because they might just get surprised who they will identify with… It might a different character than the one they expected.
Simpler even: Do you know what a Drop House is? And that street gangs choose real, normal looking houses, in normal looking neighborhoods, on purpose, to convert them into Drop Houses in border towns and cities like Phoenix?
If you answered “no”; that’s why you should watch. If you answered no, you probably never wonder who or what is in the houses just down your street. That’s why you should watch.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film plays against the backdrop of illegal immigration and there are no thematic more universal than that facing our world right now. But the movie doesn’t take sides or politicize the issue, since that’s only the backdrop. It’s a story about people, and the will power that people can summon when life pushes them to extremes.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
I bet every independent filmmaker answers “money hurdles” like a robot… But Kidnap Capital is just what it wanted to be. It’s raw, and real on purpose. We wanted the audience to feel stuck in the “chicken room” with the migrants (called “Chickens” or “Pollos” by their captors). We wanted them to feel assaulted, tortured, so they can relate to the desperation at hand. The story and the approach lent itself to a tiny budget without compromising what we actually wanted to do. So we raised the money we needed, but kept it independent so no politics or opinions would taint message behind the human story we were telling.
It did evolve though, like all scripts do. It evolved with the actors, the crew, and the moment. Everyone took the movie so seriously, sometimes it felt like we were all imprisoned in these dirty rooms for real. When the camera rolled, we always went with what felt right for the characters, in the time and place we were, not for what was on the page.
Then in post, Julia Blua our editor brought a pair of fresh eyes to it all, and she found a way to stitch all those moments together and really juxtapose all the performances to give it one more dimension. It was a crazy process, everyone was so emotionally attached.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Ehhh… We call it the Little Movie That Could! We had so many nerve-racking screenings. Premiering at the San Diego Film Festival, tangibly close to the Mexican border… so crazy! We went in so nervous to serve the audience a slice of reality, we came out winning the “Chairman’s Award” at the very end of the closing ceremony. Unreal.
Then it played to so many diverse, different audiences around the world, and people always find a thing to relate to. We won “Best Non-European Movie” at ECU The European Independent Film Festival, playing to art-savvy Parisian audiences. At the Shanghai IFF audience members crowded us to let us know it touched them, despite the language barrier.
Everywhere we go we pick up Cinematography nods and nominations; that’s what happens when a guy like Boris Mojsovski, CSC invests himself so damn much into a movie and brings an A-list crew.
And having our Canadian Premiere at FANTASIA, bringing me back home to Montreal, it’s amazing -but scary- because Fantasia audiences know what they want, and they know what they like.
And on the way to Fantasia, we got nominated for Best Picture and Best Director at the Imagen Awards. (Think Latin Golden Globes). It’s a bit unreal because it’s not a festival award, or an “independent” nod. The Imagen Awards selection pitted us against all the studio jobs, and the biggest released movies out there. You look at the list –and talent level- of nominees… it feels amazing to see we’re creating an impact at that level.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
It’s really surprised me how much people are scared of the thematic. I keep getting political comments, and we worked so hard not to politicize Kidnap Capital! When you see what happens to Manolo and the other Pollos in the movie, you’re not supposed to care about what taxes are being paid –or not-. And I think people can come out of it with a perspective change.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I think making a movie from start to finish is a task infinitely tougher than people think, plus movies have an infinite power. What (nevermind who) else do people turn to so often, to escape their reality? Kidnap Capital might have a very negative picture to paint, but if people read about it on sites like www.wearemovingstories.com, go see it, and go home and think about what the kidnapped migrants went through, for a few minutes… then it’s a few minutes more than none. It’s grassroot thinking to target a worldwide phenomenon far beyond the perspective of a simple resolve, but something good will come out of that.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I think now, at the end of our Festival year and capping it with the two top nominations at the Imagen Awards, we need buyers to recognize that there is a definite audience for Kidnap Capital’s powerful, impacting story.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
Not all film shoots are fun. Most are not, actually. Kidnap Capital was special, for the entire team.
If you can feel a quarter of the love/happiness/hate/worry/laughs/tears we felt on set making it… we’re good.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
What would you do if the phone rang in your house, and it was a distant relative you haven’t talked to in years? What if he sounded weirdly hesitant, hurt? Apologetic? What if he suddenly started crying on the phone, and begging you to wire him some money… that his life was in danger.
And what if suddenly it turned into a guttural scream, and the line cut… And when you dialed back the number was not in service.
What would you do?
Would you like to add anything else?
If you don’t want to risk coming out of a movie thinking “Maybe some bad shit happens on my street. Maybe the crime and crazy stuff that makes the newspapers is not only over there affecting them”…
Then this movie is not for you. (Sadly, that also makes you the person who NEEDS to see it!)
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
People laugh when I say we have a kid’s movie and a kid series in development. “B and the Bookshop” doesn’t really sound like the sequel to “Kidnap Capital”, does it? We do have another one right up the same alley though. “KKK”, based on real stories, abuse, turn of the century… We’re super excited about it.
I wish I could talk about it more but I’m betting there’s more www.wearemovingstories.com in my future…
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 93 minutes
Director: Felipe Rodriguez
Producer: Felipe Rodriguez, Boris Mojsovski, Julia Blua, Erin Berry
Writer: Felipe Rodriguez
Felipe Rodriguez is a French-Canadian Filmmaker of Spanish descent, who’s recently made the jump from more than a dozen years on the photography side of film sets. He makes his long-overdue directorial debut with “Kidnap Capital” a gritty, realistic film based on real stories about illegal Central American migrants held hostage by Human Smuggling Rings in Phoenix, Arizona.
It’s his efforts as a director of photography, however, that highlight the earlier years of his career, as proven on his work with such award-winning films as “Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary”
Pedro Miguel Arce
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Made in association with:
Where can I watch it in the next month?
At the FANTASIA International Film Festival this week, and then in August at the Fantasy FilmFest in Germany, IWillTell Film Festival in London, UK, United Latino Film Festival in Cleveland and FOG Film Festival in the Bay Area. It’s gonna be around Beverly Hills for the Imagen Awards in early September.