Using a crime-thriller to confront the tough issues mainstream films avoid – interview with writer/director John Marco Lopez

“It’s like the old saying ‘it takes a village to raise a child’; I feel the same way about independent film.” – John Marco Lopez

Writer/director John Marco Lopez discusses his confronting film Paradise City, an urban crime-thriller about a New York police officer who goes undercover to investigate local Muslims who the authorities suspect are involved in planning terrorist acts.

Paradise City is John Marco Lopez’s third film after The Inquisition of Camilo Sanz (2014) and The Hudson Tribes (2016). As with all American independent filmmakers he had no access to government funds so had to finance the film privately, which included drawing on his earnings as a commercial and music video director.


Interview index
00:00 Describing Paradise City and his intention;
01:20 Dealing with the issue of Islam and terrorism in New York;
02:10 Islam, Islamic extremists and regular Muslims;
03:40 Freedom to confront issues as an independent filmmaker;
04:50 Genesis of the idea;
05:45 Motivation behind the film;
07:20 Sidney Lumet;
08:30 Brutal process of getting the film made;
09:20 Production allies;
10:05 Budget and the challenge of raising money;
11:35 Length of shoot;
12:00 Life of the film;
13:30 Double-edge sword of digital filmmaking era;
15:20 Camera used;
15:45 How he got cinematographer;
16:10 Pulling favours;
17:30 Using non-professional actors;
18:40 Overcooked parts of the plot;
20:20 Ambition;
21:05 Advertising and music video work.