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An Interview with Luis Carvalho, Director of Jonah Lives

by Mike Haberfelner

April 2015

Films directed by Luis Carvalho on (re)Search my Trash


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What were your inspirations when writing Jonah Lives - and your personal thoughts on the paranormal, séances, Ouija-boards and the like?


My inspiration for filmmaking has always been George A. Romero. I personally don't believe in ghosts, but I do believe in God and the Devil, and the spiritual battle. UFOs, ghosts, spirit guides, all demonic deceptions in my book. Jonah Lives has been lingering around for around 33 years. It was originally planned as a short for a film contest run by Cinemagic (a sister publication of Fangoria and Starlog magazines) in the 1980s. When I couldn't get it off the ground then, I rewrote it and made another attempt in the early '90s, when that attempt fell thru, and with no other way of getting the film off the ground I entered the construction field and made a comfortable living with a shovel instead of a camera.


You just have to talk about your movie's creature design for a bit, and to what extent were you involved in its creation?


I essentially approached Ben Bornstein, our makeup FX artist, and told him I wanted something out of a Bernie Wrightson comic book, and he delivered it. Originally I had envisioned Jonah as more skeletal, but Ben gave me something with more character appeal.


At times, Jonah Lives gets pretty violent - so do talk about those scenes and their creation for a bit, and was there ever a line you refused to cross (for other than budgetary reasons)?


The violence in Jonah Lives is pretty much as it was written in the script. I like violence and gore as cinematic tools but I don't like the current trend towards torture porn as it has come to be called, and I wouldn't do gore and violence for their sake alone. Their is lots to be said and argued about as to what is more frightening seeing or imagining, and I believe suggestion is one of the more powerful tools in our arsenal, as low budget filmmakers.


What can you tell us about your directorial approach to your story at hand?


I love ambiguity. I may be alone in this and was warned not to use it. But their is an underlying theme of the spiritual battle taking place in the film, it's not cut and dry, but the hints are all over the place. Other than that approach, it was sometimes difficult to separate the director and the producer aspects of the project, many times the producer won the battles. Time was always of the essence, and we fell behind, early on in our original 21 day shooting schedule. So, I am embarrassed to say my director's approach was limited.


Jonah Lives stars scream queen legend Brinke Stevens - so why her, what was it like working with her, and how did you get her even?


Brinke was just amazing. I am a fan, and met Brinke in 1993. I told her then that I was planning a film and if it ever got made I wanted her in it. She laughed and agreed, even though she was just being gracious to a fan, of course. So fast forward 18 years, I found and friended her on FB, I sent her the script, and she gave me some great suggestions including tying in Jonah to her character, and that made all the sense in the world! She was awesome to work with, and a consummate professional. I was thrilled to have her and glad that we were able to give her star treatment. I would love to get a Jonah 2 under way and get to flesh out her story in a prequel-sequel type film.


Do talk about the rest of your key cast, and why exactly these people?


It was hard to cast Jonah Lives. Especially being a first time filmmaker, not too many people take you seriously in New England unless you have some credentials. I found Ryan Boudreau and Jocelyn Padilla [Jocelyn Padilla interview - click here] thru online auditions, but had to enlist Jodi Purdy Quinlan, of South Shore Casting to round out the remainder of the cast. As for why them, they were the best and most compatible looking group I could put together and I thought they did a fine job as an ensemble cast.


What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?


It was tense. I was a first time producer/director working with over 20 people whom I had never worked with before. Most were hired by cinematographer Rich Marino. I was tough on them. In hindsight, I regret being so hard on them, especially now, after working on two other features in various capacities and knowing what it takes to do quality work from the perspective of a crew member. We had a 21 day shooting schedule and we ended up needing 4 more days to complete the project. We also were over budget. So, to say the least, it was tense!


A few words about audience and critical reception of your movie?


I thought the audiences I seen the film with seemed to enjoy it. They gasped, jumped, and laughed all together, it was a terrific experience. Some critics have been rough on us, but that's part of the territory when you are compared to genre classics. Others, such as yourself, get it and have responded likewise.


With Jonah Lives featuring a powerful villain and being on the open-ended side, could you ever be persuaded to shoot a sequel? And any (other) future projects you'd like to share?


As stated I would love to flesh out the details as to how and why Jonah was offed, and elaborate to Barbra's fate in a prequel/sequel. I have worked on two features since Jonah Lives, helping to produce and work as sound man on Nelson Reis' Silence and Mike Melo's Sunny Side Up, a drama, and a dark rom/com respectively. Both are in post production as we speak.


What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?


Romero. George A. Romero. I was 13, Dawn Of The Dead blew my mind. Fangoria appears on the shelves. Romero says I can do it in those pages, and I believed him and got a hold of a Super 8 camera and started making my own flicks with family and friends. I basically got a crash course on what it would entail to make a feature when I attended Dov Simens' 2-Day Film School in Boston, in 2010. That, and watching every kind of film imaginable, has been my training.


What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Jonah Lives?


Shorts and skits, made for fun, some can be seen on YouTube. Outside of that Jonah Lives was a crash course for us.


How would you describe yourself as a director?


Trying hard to look like I know what I am doing.


Filmmakers who inspire you?


Feeling lucky ?
Want to
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Luis Carvalho
at the amazons ...


Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)

Germany (East AND West)

Looking for imports ?
Find Luis Carvalho here ...

Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Luis Carvalho at

First and foremost George Romero, Sergio Leone, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese.


Your favourite movies?


Dawn Of The Dead, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, King Kong (1933), Ben Hur.


... and of course, films you really deplore?


Chick flicks.


Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?


Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?


Watch my movie, have fun and enjoy!


Thanks for the interview!


© by Mike Haberfelner

Legal note: (re)Search my Trash cannot
and shall not be held responsible for
content of sites from a third party.

Thanks for watching !!!



Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD