Last week, I posted my review for Carlota Pereda’s Piggy, which celebrated its world premiere at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, and this week, we have our interview with Pereda about her debut feature film project on tap for you to enjoy. During our conversation, Pereda discussed exploring the horrors of being a teenage girl in her story and how fortunate she felt when she discovered Laura Galán during the casting process for her short film that would eventually become a feature just a few years later. Pereda also chatted about the visual style of Piggy, utilizing certain genre beats in unexpected ways, and more.

Great to speak with you today, Carlota. This film feels like something special, and I'd love to talk about getting into the head of this girl Sara, because she is the driving force of this story. So many times in movies, we see teenagers being depicted as generally being level-headed or are able to think things through the right way. But what I loved about Sara is her frustrations are real. The missteps that she takes are real. Everything about how she handles things in this story is very much grounded in this sense of reality. Can you discuss exploring that dynamic with her character and then how it's heightened by everything else that happens in the film?

Carlota Pereda: Yeah, for me, sometimes being a teen can be a real horror story. Basically, because you don't understand your body, you don't like your body 90 percent of the time, you don't know how to deal with people. Social anxiety can be as paralyzing as murder when you're a teenager. And for me, I just wanted to see something that really resembled what it felt like to be a teenager for myself. Because most of the time, especially when there are not many films about teenagers in Spain, so what we see are teenagers from the United States. And it's so different, but at the same time, it's so similar. But the things that are similar, they're always treated with a very light tone, and I wanted to explore that a bit more. A bit like in Eighth Grade, which I thought was very well done in that movie.

In this story, there’s this girl who, after she's bullied by these girls, ultimately sees something horrific happen to them, and then she has to try to deal with that because of this strange connection that she has to the kidnapper. There’s this morality play that plays out in her head and we see her conflict play out. Was there something specific about this story where you knew it would benefit from all these genre elements that you were able to weave into this narrative?

Carlota Pereda: I thought that the genre elements and the moral conflict are intertwined. I thought that was the only way to really talk about that, to talk about it in a way that was entertaining and would bring up a bigger audience to this thing. And also because I love genre films. For me, there was never a question of doing something else. It had to be a genre film. And also because sometimes, we always think about victims that because they are victims, they have to be perfect as well. So I just wanted to change that feeling. There’s also a feeling where your hero has to be a good person, too, but Sara’s complicated. She has all these feelings and she has this rage, and her rage is very human and is very real. I wanted to explore that.

Laura's performance is absolutely fearless in Piggy, and I do think she gives one of the most striking performances that I've seen thus far in the festival. How was it collaborating with her on this role and her character?

Carlota Pereda: You know, it took me two years to find her for the short film. I spent two years casting, and when I met her, we just immediately hit it off because she's so intelligent and she is so fantastic and she understood the mood perfectly and how I wanted to do it, with both the short film and the [feature] film. So when I started writing, it was great, because I was writing for someone. That gives you so much freedom because you imagine the person in your mind when you're writing it, and I knew she could do anything. And when we were rehearsing the screenplay, there's not much dialogue when it comes to Sara, but it's her emotions that you can read in the script. So we would always go through each scene, we spent a lot of time rehearsing to know exactly what was going on in her head in every single scene. That's what we rehearsed together, so we knew the whole arc. She was just so much fun and it was so great to see her doing things that were really, really hard to do, and she did them so well. I just can't wait to work with her again, really. She's just brilliant.

I wanted to talk about [director of photography] Rita [Noriega]'s work in this because she does a fantastic job of capturing that oppressive heat in the sun of summer. And then once things shift in the story, I like how the visuals almost become dreamlike in a way. She does some great work here.

Carlota Pereda: Rita is one of my best friends. I've known her for a long time, so we worked together hand in hand from the first draft to the screenplay. We wanted to play with the genre conventions. We're using the color palette of coming-of-age movies to do our genre film, and the soft focus of a coming-of-age movie to create something that goes in the direction that it does here. But we wanted the visuals to reflect Sara’s story because everything has to do with her journey. So the way we framed Sara at the beginning of the film was going to be different from the way we framed her at the end of the movie. The way the camera moves or doesn't move was different at the beginning of the movie versus the end of the movie. So yeah, we worked on everything close together, so we knew exactly what we were doing, what the journey of Sara was, and everything that needed to be shown on the screen to tell this story the right way.

[Photo Credit: Above poster image courtesy of Sundance Institute.]


Go HERE to catch up on all of our coverage of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival!

  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.