A multifaceted figure working on her own production company in a variety of roles, ranging from producer, writer, director, editor and much more, to also working in burlesque dancing and singing involving the genre, Catalina Querida has offered plenty to the genre through her company Little Spark Films but on her own as well. Now, in honor of Women in Horror Month, I talk with her about her initial love of the genre, the film out of Little Spark Films and what to expect of her in the future.
Me: Hello and thank you for taking the time to do this. First off, when did you get into horror in general?
Catalina Querida: Hello! I’m Catalina Querida (keh•ree•duh) from Little Spark Films. I love that this is the first question because I’ve been ruminating on the answer lately. I usually say AMC’s Hitchcocktober, or I believe it was called that in October during the late nineties. My viewing of films was highly censored in my home, but I was allowed to watch anything in black and white so I watched a lot of AMC and TCM. I was able to watch Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, all of his fantastic films. I don’t have anything new to say about Hitchcock, but am so thankful AMC ran their programming in such a way.
Now that I’m older, I realize that I always had an interest in the macabre. Possibly because I was living in a very violence-censored world or because it’s in my veins as a Mexican.
Me: Were you into genre films growing up? What films specifically got you into watching horror movies?
CQ: Kind of accidentally answered above, but I oddly enough watched a lot of classic romance and biblical epics. Hitchcock marathons!
Me: As a part of Texas-based filmmaking studio Little Spark Films, how did you get involved with the company?
CQ: I own the company with my husband, Joe Manco. We created it because we used to be in a band and were disappointed with the craftsmanship of the music videos we paid for. My husband attended The Academy in Irving, a business school, for video production so I said “Hey, why don’t we just make our own?’
It took some convincing, but once we got in the groove, it’s been going!
Me: Having worked on various aspects of film production, do you have any particular preference for working on any?
CQ: I’m the kind of person who loves whatever they are working on at the moment, so currently, I’m working on marketing aspects of our brand and learning more about what makes that side of the world tick.
Me: As the writer/director of their short “Circus Sisters,” what made you decide to get involved in those aspects for the first time?
CQ: Joe had made a few shorts and I wanted to try it so I wrote a little script and went to shooting. That’s when I truly realized how many moving parts go into writing and directing. I’m not happy with how it turned out, but I’m happy that I learned so much. I always bring lessons learned forward. I could potentially break out the old script now, polish it up, work towards what I wanted in my head, but we’ll see.
Me: Did it challenge you to be involved in various capacities at once on a project like this? How do you balance those priorities during a shoot?
CQ: It was a huge challenge, but Joe did warn me that I didn’t have enough planning and he was right. It’s okay though like I mentioned, lesson learned. The lesson is don’t go into a project until you are certain you will be happy or at least ok with the finished project.
Me: As well, you also directed their other shorts “Demon Metal Murder V: New Blood” and “Silly Dilly Why So Killy? (Dildo of the Dead).” What was the set like while shooting the films? How did the cast and crew react to the type of film being made?
CQ: I wrote both as well and they were both fake trailers for The Fake Trailer Showcase at Texas Frightmare Weekend, which is a fairly new event to showcase new filmmakers. It’s free to enter and takes place on Sunday morning. It’s always such a fun event because the rules are very limited and it’s cool to see what everyone’s take is on it.
To answer the actual questions, our sets at this point are fairly well planned with a cast/crew lunch break and someone will bring breakfast. They usually last 4-6 hours and it’s a fun way to spend the day. Food keeps people happy!!
To Point 2, these trailers are meant to be schlocky, silly, and shocking. We’re a very direct team as well so everyone gets a script beforehand or at least notes on what to expect. Silly Dilly ended up being about a zombie dildo because the Fake Trailer Showcase had a theme that year in honor of George Romero and I went ridiculous with it. Demon Metal Murder V was shot the first weekend of March 2020 and was one of the last projects we shot pre-Covid. Luckily, we work with a lot of the same cast/crew so we’ve fostered a sense of community. Cast/Crew even helps each other out on their various projects from music to performing arts. I’m incredibly appreciative of them.
Me: Do you recall having any odd or funny on-set stories about yourself or any of the other cast/crew members?
CQ: Oh, man. We’re honestly just a gaggle of rejects for being a bit extra. When we’re working, we’re focused, but on-off time, we all goof off as we do. This can be anywhere from skateboarding breaks (not me) to punk or chill guitar time (not me), people falling asleep due to waiting, and wandering through restaurants holding to each other’s shoulders shouting POINTS.
Last year, my team (not me) went to Austin to help another director get his feature filmed. They pulled out all the stops and even acquired a courthouse to film a large scene. The one night I was able to swing by, we went to the 20th Anniversary screening of Terror Firmer, Lloyd Kaufman- Troma, who we were scheduled to work with the following day. The evening ended in several of the crew trying to recreate scenes from The Room, Tommy Wiseau. By the end of the shoot, Kerry O’Quin-Fangoria, lovingly referred to the team as the “Goth Crew From Dallas.” So that’s how we ended up as the Deer Friends, which is still an ongoing joke.
Me: You have a large part in their Clive Barker-inspired series ‘Hellbound Laments’ producing the series and directing several episodes. How did the concept come together?
CQ: I wrote and directed 4 of the series. They’re actually what we call micro-shorts to showcase the handiwork of the Pyramid Gallery and Configuration Boxes Dot Com, some of the finest purveyors of Hellraiser puzzle boxes. Each box has its own little back story, so we incorporate the story into the box videos. The Lament Configuration, the one from the film series, is the only one in their collection so it’s incredibly fun to be able to play in that space.
Me: In addition to your company, you’ve also done hands-free burlesque dances with the Deadly Sins Burlesque. How did you get involved in this avenue?
CQ: They lost a singer so I threw my hat in the ring.
Me: What are some special tricks you’ve learned that you’ve incorporated into your show?
CQ: I use an Ashy Slashy puppet from the Evil Dead Series in my most popular routine. I sing the song “All The Men In My Life Have Been Killed By Candarian Demons” from Evil Dead: The Musical and dress up as Annie from Evil Dead II. It’s kind of like an Evil Dead Sandwich that includes singing, stripping, and a puppet.
Me: What else are you working on that you’d like to let our readers know about?
CQ: I’m working on moving my burlesque into the online world. Since I sing, I don’t want to potentially harm someone in today’s environment.
We also just finished principal photography on our next project, Vicemares, which I hope will bring up some interesting conversations on men’s mental health.
Every Wednesday I post Barker and Briefs in which I’m reading the Books of Blood series out loud in lingerie with my beloved Barker collection and various horror knick-knacks. I started this in a way to entertain myself while at home and to bring some light on to why I love Barker so much. He’s a maestro of the pen!
Me: Lastly, being that this is Women in Horror Month, what special message do you have for any women out there looking to join in the industry in any capacity as you are one yourself? Thank you again for your time!
CQ: Shine your light. Even if you think it’s weird. There are other weirdoes like you that want to be around you. They will gravitate towards you. I’ve surprisingly met a lot of people on social media just because we liked the same thing.
Be forward. If you can’t be forward with your friends, are they your friends?
To get an idea of their work, here are the trailers for these two projects. First is The Torturer:
And for Vicemares:
Lastly, be sure to check out the studio's links online: