PopHorror Interviews ‘Pet’ Director Carles Torrens

It’s always such an honor to get to sit down and interview someone who had a major impact on your cinematic experience. Lucky for me, I recently got the chance to chat with director Carles Torrens, the man behind Pet, my favorite horror film of 2016, where we cover his career, inspirations and upcoming projects!

PopHorror: Thank you for taking the time to sit down and talk with me.

Carles Torrens: Absolutely! Thank you again for your great review of Pet!

PopHorror:  It was my pleasure. People need to see this movie! Let’s just get down to it. What got you started into filmmaking?

Carles Torrens: Growing up, I always made short films with my dad’s video camera, like any other kid, ya know? With just my friends and all that. So one thing led to another and it made me want to go to film school.

PopHorror: Where did you go to film school?

Carles Torrens: I went to Chapman. I grew up in Barcelona, Spain. I was actually going to American High School there. In Barcelona, at the time when I was in school, American director and producer Brian Yuzna was there, who made films like Re-Animator, Society… these big ’80s horror films. He was in Spain making a series of films with American talent but shot in Barcelona. So his kids went to my high school. I was in class with them!

I already liked film but he started this thing called “Film Club” at school where you could join and it would teach you things like filmmaking. So that was definitely the decisive thing, you know? He and his wife are good friends with my parents and my parents weren’t all that hot about me going to America to go to school because we didn’t know anyone out there. He convinced them that it was a good idea and that film school was a good idea so that’s what we did. I went to film school in Chapman, Orange County and that’s that.

PopHorror: I’m so glad they got them to change their mind! Otherwise, I would not have a new favorite movie right now.

Carles Torrens: There you go! Maybe it would have been in Spanish, who knows?

(We both chuckle)

PopHorror: Do you have any directors that have inspired you?


Carles Torrens: Oh yeah! I got into films because of the ’90 s indie scene. Quentin Tarantino, The Cohen Brothers, Kevin Smith,and Robert Rodriguez, those are the guys whose films I grew up with and loved. I was like, “I wanna be like them!” So those are the guys that really pushed me into it. Once I was in film, I discovered many other wonderful directors. I always knew that Spielberg was there and Scorsese was there and I always liked their films but was it only later that I really picked up an appreciation for them. So originally it was Tarantino, The Cohen Brothers, Kevin Smith, and Robert Rodriguez.

PopHorror: I love those guys, too! What was it like filming Apartment 143?

Carles Torrens: I was 26 and it was my first opportunity to make a film. So I knew the producer and director Rodrigo Cortes. He made a film called Buried and he was going to make Apartment 143 himself. Buried propelled him upwards to make much bigger projects, so the movie got stuck in limbo. No one was going to direct it, so he was like, “Why don’t you make it?”

The first thing that drove me to it was being 26 and having the opportunity to make a film, which isn’t always the way to go perhaps. But I was like, “I’m making a movie – cool!” Also, the movie came out way later. We made it in 2010 when the first Paranormal Activity was still in theaters, the term “found footage” hadn’t really been coined yet. The only two films out there of that kind were The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. Insidious and The Last Exorcism hadn’t came out. A lot of those type of films hadn’t been released yet. We actually got accused of plagiarism because we didn’t release it until much later.

What I liked about Apartment 143 was the opportunity to tell a story with different visual language. It was telling the story through textures, shot with like 18 different cameras, including cell phones and go pros. It was just a fun endeavor because I had a screenplay that was just a typical horror screenplay. The challenge was to hit all the beats and we couldn’t just shoot it like a regular film. I also didn’t want to do too much of the shaky cam found footage typical style. There was a lot of care in the visual aspect of it. Filming it with so many different cameras was a challenge in itself, but that’s what drew me to it.

PopHorror: Wow, 18 different cameras! I never really knew how much went into filming.

Carles Torrens: Yeah! But it was very different from what I usually do with my short films. So people who know my short films and watched Apartment 143, they were like “Wow, that movie isn’t you at all!” It was a great opportunity but at the same time, it didn’t really come from me. It was the brain child of someone else and I was just brought on to execute it.

PopHorror: So, how did you come to direct Pet?

Carles Torrens: After Apartment 143, instead of making another film right away, I started making short films. I made a short called Sequence, which I won some awards for. It really was my baby. I wrote it. I directed it. So I was looking for a movie. I’ve had a hard time writing features in the past, so I was looking for a screenplay that hadn’t already been done, and also something that reflected my sensibility. (Writer) Jeremy Slater and I both have the same agent. My agent showed me this script, it wasn’t for me to direct, he just showed me to see what kinds of things I was into.

But the truth is, Pet was an MGM script and the movie had been set up to be made for a lot more money then what I ended up making it for. The problem was that the film had been stalled so many times that the project was no longer in development. That’s what they call a “Turn around” where they put it on the shelf and will be like, “Let’s make it next year.” It was just stuck there and no one was going to make it. You had to pay a good chunk of money to get your hands on it the screenplay.

So I went to Spain and found the money to buy the script. After I bought the script, I didn’t have any money to make the film. I was able to find some financing with a company here in LA called Revolver Picture Company and they make lower budget films. So we made it as low budget indie. We made the cheapest version of Pet you could possibly make. The original screenplay had a bigger budget so I had to become really creative on my budget on what to keep and what to take out. What it really came down to was keeping the essence of the film. I shot it in four weeks on a shoe-string budget.

PopHorror: Especially after watching all of these big blockbusters, Pet was way more effective to me. So congratulations!

Carles Torrens: That’s awesome! Thank you so much!

PopHorror: Without giving anything away, what would you say was your favorite thing to shoot?

Carles Torrens: My favorite scenes were between Dominic and Ksenia. They were so much fun. Going through and editing their scenes to find the subtext was a lot of fun for me. Working with the actors to portray what we really wanted to convey and adding all of those layers to those dialogues and blocking… those were the most fun for me. Watching it all come together was really gratifying for me.

PopHorror: You also directed a short for the Film ABCs Of Death 2.5 called M for Mother. Can you tell me about that?

Carles Torrens: They had a competition and the winner would make it into ABC’s Of Death 2. We didn’t win but they had so many great submissions for the letter M that they decided to do ABC’s Of Death 2.5 with all of the letter M films.

PopHorror: Are you currently working on any other films?

Carles Torrens: After Christmas, I am working on another indie horror film like Pet. So stay tuned!

PopHorror: Awesome! I love indie horror films.

Carles Torrens: How did you get into Indie horror?

PopHorror: I watched a movie back in 2006 called Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon.

Carles Torrens: I love that film!

PopHorror: Yeah, it blew my mind! It was so well done and so well crafted. If you could tell people one thing about the movie Pet, what would it be and why?

Carles Torrens: I would tell them it’s a love story… also, it’s a story you’ll find that you weren’t expecting when going in.

(We then started discussing spoilers for Pet)

PopHorror: What draws you to horror films?

Carles Torrens: When I was a kid watching From Dusk Til Dawn, I was like, “These are really bad people.” But their world sucked me in, enjoying something that these people shouldn’t be doing. I only watched PG for the longest time as a kid. But with horror films, I could see the beauty and art of something so perverse. Watching people make art out of something so deep and dark feeling, using fear to create something… it blew me away. It really intrigued me. I have to say that very few horror movies ever scared me. However, I am able to appreciate the beauty in them. From Dusk Til Dawn was my in. My favorite horror films are The Thing. I really just like John Carpenter’s body of work. Insidious I love. The Exorcist I love.

PopHorror: What movie was so twisted it made your jaw drop?

Carles Torrens: The twist in the Usual Suspects gets me every time. It really pulled the rug from under my feet. Wait! Scratch everything I just said – Psycho is my all time favorite horror movie. That to me is the most satisfying twist I have ever seen. I did not see that coming in a million years. It made a huge impact on me!

PopHorror: Those movies are so much fun! I have one last question for you, do you have any advice for future film directors?

Carles Torrens: Technology is available to everyone! Anyone can make a movie, but just because you can doesn’t always mean you should. My advice would be now that the technology is available, learn to be really critical of yourself. If you really want to succeed, forget about the industry, forget about the rules. If you have the means to make movies, do it. However, do it in a way that you are always improving from one film to the next. Focus on what you need to improve on, like sound and lighting. Be really critical of yourself and make yourself better!

PopHorror: That is really good advice! Thank you so much!

About Lacylou1122

Lacy Lou has had a love for horror movies pretty much since birth! If you ever need a horror trivia question answered she's your girl!!! She is obsessed with the movie Scream and even has a Ghostface tattoo to prove it! She loves to write and make new friends that share the same interest.

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