Canadian Magazine Industry News
1 August 2013,     TORONTO
Q&A: Rodrigo Gudińo on the rise of Rue Morgue Cinema
Rue Morgue issue No. 135, July 2013
Rue Morgue issue No. 135, July 2013
Rue Morgue magazine conjured an interesting conflict of interest for its July issue: How would the horror culture mag cover the Rue Morgue Cinema feature film made by its own publisher, Rodrigo Gudiño?

After much deliberation, the editorial team opted to go all-in and feature Gudiño's The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh as the month's cover story. Instead of running the usual behind-the-scenes Q&A with a filmmaker, however, editor Dave Alexander tasked Gudiño with writing a first-person account, and used his editor's note to directly address the sticky situation.

Alexander didn't want to abuse readers' faith in the mag, but, "That said, Rue Morgue Cinema's first feature is huge for our little company," he wrote. "More importantly, though, at conventions and online you guys have asked us for more on the film."

Masthead called up Gudiño to talk about the weirdness of both covering and making films, the growth of Rue Morgue and its associated properties since its start in 1997, and whether his future lies in publishing or motion pictures.

Masthead: What can you tell us about your film, The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh?

Rodrigo Gudiño: The film is an experimental ghost story. It's mainly centred around one character, and although there are other people in the film you never quite see them in camera. It has a strong psychological layer to it, asking you to participate actively in the film and fill in blanks and immerse yourself [like you would with a book].

You've directed short films before but this is your first feature. What was the workload like? Did you have to take a leave of absence from the mag?

Yes… During post-production it was a bit more relaxed, I was in the back office and I could still check in on what was happening day-to-day at Rue Morgue. But definitely during the shooting process there's just no way, you're just completely gone. Everything goes down the tube, relationships, family, everything.

Who took care of your duties at the mag?

It was a bunch of people. I just give everybody a bit more work, so between Dave and the other editors, plus Jody Infurnari in marketing and controller Marco Pecota, everybody just kind of handles a bit more. And any major decisions just get put off for a month.

The July issue is unique, a cover story about a film made by the publisher and produced by the parent company. How did the conflict of interest discussions go down?

Over 16 years we've done the Festival of Fear horror expo and different Rue Morgue initiatives, and we've never covered them well. For the first four or five years of the Festival of Fear, we didn't run any coverage at all. Specifically for that reason: should we really promote the fact that we're doing this? And what's always happened is that the readers complain that we don't cover these things. It's a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't. So what I decided to do with this film is I told Dave, look, I'm going to make this movie. And then I'm going to show it to you guys, and you let me know what you think.

I'm their boss, but we're friends, and I can count on their honesty. Some liked it a lot, and some just kind of liked it. But the overall consensus was yeah, our publishing company is heading into cinema, it's a move that a lot of other publishing houses have not done successfully, and maybe we will. So let's all support it. That was their angle.

Even aside from liking the film, did anyone feel nonetheless uneasy running a cover story on it?

Not that I heard of, no. That would have been Dave, he would have been the most concerned about that. We talked about different ways of handling it. We talked about not doing it, we talked about doing smaller write-ups over a series of issues, but we thought that would feel even more like advertorial. Through Dave, it seemed like the consensus was let's just do it, and let's do it right.

Tell us about the launch of the Festival of Fear in 2004. How and why did you branch out into events?

Rue Morgue was always a mixed media publication. We're not just interested in covering film, we're a culture magazine. That naturally led me to look at the company as a mixed media company, and so we started presenting movies in 2001, we launched Rue Morgue Radio in 2003-4, and then I was asked to do a convention. I don't know if you know much about conventions, but it's a whole different thing and it's a full time job. There's no way I wanted to do that. But I was approached by Hobby Star, that does the Fan Expo Canada, and they essentially wanted a partner and gave me a sweet offer: we'll do all of the nuts and bolt work, you just pick the guests. You do the art side and we'll do the technical side.

Fax Expo attendance is growing every year. Does that directly translate to new readers?

We have a very international readership, so to this day most of our readers are in the United States. The Fan Expo festival here certainly has helped a huge deal, but it's hard to quantify. It's raised the profile of the magazine and it's allowed us to do an annual grassroots initiative to get new readers and expose the brand to potential readers.

What is your circulation?

It's about 50,000, but that's U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia. I don't know the number in Canada alone. Many years ago it was around 10-15% of the total, but it's been awhile since we've looked at it to be honest.

Was reaching outside of Canada always the plan?

Yeah, when I first started the magazine I knew there was no way it would survive as just a Canadian magazine. I just didn't know of any Canadian magazines that survived, they were heavily subsidized. So my first order of business was to get the magazine over the border, and that happened with the seventh issue.

Are you looking to move into directing full-time, or will you continue to juggle movies and the magazine?

Well, I got into publishing to get into filmmaking. I'm an artist. A lot of people for many years saw me as a business man, but that's not where my heart is. I'm trying to figure out at this point how much I like film. There's a lot of bullshit associated with film, you're dealing with millions of dollars and a lot people. It's got it's pros and cons and the cons are very big. One of the things that's always been great about Rue Morgue is that we've always done things on our own, the magazine is completely independently published, we do the festival with a partner but we essentially do all these things ourselves. I will always have a foot in Rue Morgue and oversee Rue Morgue. I want to keep the spirit in which I created it alive.
— Jef Catapang
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