Fans of Guillermo del Toro were ecstatic last Sunday night when the long-time filmmaker was awarded the Best Director and Best Picture honors for The Shape of Water.
del Toro has always been known as a “super fan” of monsters, horror, sci-fi, and even Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction (and he is still reportedly working on a suitable film adaptation) and he is also a staunch supporter of young filmmakers.
In an interview with Variety after his Oscar wins, del Toro again emphasized how important it is to encourage the next generation of artists from around the world, stating that “The first thing we’ve got to keep doing is to have visibility and help others have visibility. When you check the cast of The Strain all four seasons have [actors] Joaquín Cosio, Miguel Gomez. There’s Adriana Barraza and Mía Maestro. Two of the three Oscars Pan’s Labyrinth won were for Eugenio Caballero [production design] and Guillermo Navarro [cinematography]. And Eugenio, that was his first big movie. I had produced a movie with Alfonso for a second-time filmmaker, Sebastián Cordero, called ‘Cronicas.’ Eugenio had done the [production design] and this was a very small movie, but I said let’s go do Pan’s Labyrinth. And you blink and the next thing, he’s winning the Oscar.”
del Toro is also more than willing to put his money where his mouth is. Just last month at the “…recent Morelia Film Festival, he launched a scholarship program for Mexican animators, 50% of which was funded out of his own pocket, without a sponsor. He plans to announce a second wave of scholarships next week.” The director also has a long history of producing work by up and coming directors, giving many their first breaks in the business such as Guillem Morales (Julia’s Eyes), Jorge Gutiérrez (The Book of Life), Troy Nixey (Don’t be Afraid of the Dark), and Andy and Barbara Muschietti (Mama) among others.
As a producer, del Toro realizes what many other studio executives do not, but he is quick to point out that “…one that they understand is box office. So with Black Panther, Get Out, Wonder Woman — these are movies for female audiences, African-American audiences, and for many years that was a very difficult discussion to have with studios. One project I had at a major studio no longer than three years ago was turned down because it was female-centric. I went to bat for it and literally could not move them one inch. It was myopic. These successes show the studios that fortune favors the bold. People are interested in seeing themselves in a way they haven’t seen themselves.”
del Toro looks forward to the day when “Success is the moment we are color-blind, when an actor is cast not because it was written specifically but because he or she is right for the part and the actor has such power and visibility that they can command the lead in any project.”
And as usual, del Toro has his hands full with a variety of projects in development including a darker, more faithful version of Pinocchio (with co-director Marc Gustafson) and Nightmare Alley, a remake of the 1947 film noir classic, this time set in the 1970’s.