top of page

[Interview] A Conversation with THE DEATH OF APRIL Writer and Director Ruben Rodriguez


Katarina Hughes in THE DEATH OF APRIL (2022), directed by Ruben Rodriguez.
Courtesy of MojoCreative Group

Ruben Rodriguez is a writer, producer, and director in addition to leading the MojoCreative Group artist collective. From motion pictures to original television programming, Rodriguez has made his mark on the industry. He began his career as a writer for film and television and has devoted his focus to his labor of love on horror films. To date, Rodriguez has written, produced, and directed three original feature films including In the Woods (2005), Cereal Killers (2010), and Sawaru (2006).


Rodriguez's film work has been met with critical acclaim and recognized with multiple Telly Awards for Television Excellence, a 1995 Animated Eye Award for Best Video Animation from the New York Underground Film Festival, and the 1994 Grand Jury prize for the best artistic short in the Aspen Shortfest. In addition to films, Rodriguez has developed and produced a variety of network and local broadcast original television programming.


With the assistance of fellow producers Cesar Orellana, Jerusalyn Figueroa, and Brittany Godish, Rodriguez launched MojoCreative Group. The principle behind this united endeavor is to produce compelling films and television series that command mass appeal, all the while retaining the full artistic accreditation necessary to execute the vision. His feature-length found-footage horror film The Death of April is one such film.


Meagan Mullen (Katarina Hughes), freshly moved into her new home, keeps in touch with her friends and family through a video blog. As her entries (and her life) become more complex and emotional, strange things begin to happen in her room: and the camera captures all of it. Told primarily from the point of view of an ordinary wireless webcam, The Death of April documents the unsettling activity in an otherwise average girl's bedroom and the mysteries that surround it.


E.L. King interviews Rodriguez to discuss his career as a filmmaker, his love of the horror genre, and The Death of April.


 

E.L. King: In your own words, can you share your work as a filmmaker, specifically within the horror genre?

Ruben Rodriguez: I am a big fan of movies, from the age of eight, I was sitting in front of my tv watching anything and everything. I really had a passion for filmmaking. I would pick up books from the library about filmmaking and special effects. Not to date myself, but when I was growing up I couldn’t just jump onto Youtube and watch some tutorials on filmmaking. So, it was a big challenge for me, but I never stopped reading as well as shooting short films on my camcorder. I was especially fascinated with filmmakers like John Carpenter, George Romero, Sam Raimi, and Peter Jackson. I loved all their early horror films.


E.L. King: What inspired Meagan’s story and the concept for The Death of April?

Ruben Rodriguez: The story was inspired by a real story that happened to one of my family member’s neighbors. The neighbor had discovered that someone had passed away in her apartment and she wanted to find out who and how the person had passed. This inspired the film. I loved the idea that someone would become obsessed with finding out the details of a possible haunting in their home.


E.L. King: Why did you choose to make a found-footage film and do you feel that The Death of April brings a fresh perspective to the genre?

Ruben Rodriguez: The idea behind The Death of April lent itself to the found footage genre. I wanted the main character to share her journey by means of video blogging. When the film was being developed vlogging was a new way to share an experience online and I felt it was a perfect fit for the film. I am also a fan of true crime documentaries, so that is where the documentary elements of the film came into being. I wanted to give the viewers the other side of the story and this came about by interviewing the family members. I truly hope viewers of my film feel that this combination of true crime documentary meets vlogging is successful.


Katarina Hughes in THE DEATH OF APRIL (2022), directed by Ruben Rodriguez.
Courtesy of MojoCreative Group

E.L. King: You seem to explore the line between paranormal and psychological. Tell us why you chose to navigate these themes and what you hope audiences take away from their viewing experiences.

Ruben Rodriguez: This is part of my exploration of vloggers. I find it interesting that someone would want to share elements of their personal life with complete strangers and I wanted Meagan to do the same thing being as she was trying to build a support system for her belief in the paranormal. It takes a special kind of person to put their life out there for the public to dissect and consume. This also goes deep into Meagan’s psychology… she is looking to be validated.


E.L. King: Mental Health in Horror is an important exploration. Why was this an important story for you to tell?

Ruben Rodriguez: I feel that inner horror is scarier than a man wearing a mask. We meet people every day of our lives but do we really know what these people are about? The secrets that everyday people hide are a lot scarier and I really wanted to explore this with my film.


E.L. King: I was immediately struck with a sense of unease and the feeling that something was amiss with wide-eyed Meagan Mullen, played with effortless sincerity by Katarina Hughes. She’s leaving everything she knows behind for a fresh start on the East Coast after graduating and living on her own for the first time. It was my impression she was trying to escape life in a dull box. Can you speak to that?

Ruben Rodriguez: This is one of the reasons why I cast Katarina in the part. She gives this innocence to the character, however, there is something dark living inside Meagan Mullen. Something we discover at the end of the film. Her moving to the East Coast was her attempt to restart her life anew, but as we discover that doesn’t happen.


Katarina Hughes in THE DEATH OF APRIL (2022), directed by Ruben Rodriguez.
Courtesy of MojoCreative Group

E.L. King: Meagan breaks all the rules when it comes to delving into the occult, particularly playing with Ouija boards and having a seance — with an inexperienced Medium — after discovering her apartment was home to a girl that had been murdered. Why does she hyper-focus on having an “entity” in her home?

Ruben Rodriguez: Because the entity in her home is partly in her mind, I wanted to take elements from "The Tell-Tale Heart,” a short story by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, and explore how guilt can manifest itself into something real. Something Meagan is trying to figure out by investigating the death of April Fisher. In a way, this is Meagan’s mind struggling to bring forth the truth behind the death of April. Without spoiling the ending, this is something she discovers in the final act of the film.


E.L. King: Do you have any upcoming projects, specifically within the horror, science fiction, supernatural, or thrills genres you can share with us?

Ruben Rodriguez: I am working on two feature projects at the moment. One will be shooting in the spring. I am really looking forward to getting back in the director’s chair. Both upcoming projects are horror films. If anyone is interested in following the progression of these projects they can follow me on Instagram. I will be posting regular updates to my feed.


 






12 views

Comments


bottom of page