He is the filmmaker of Rest Stop Dollar Baby film.
SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Joshua Lozano: My name is Joshua Gasca Lozano, a 21 year old man in El Paso, Texas. I love writing, films, and YouTube video editing and creation. Any sort of writing, I try to do it. Especially films and comics!
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Joshua Lozano: I remember it vividly: I had always wanted to be involved in filmmaking, but at a young age, it was as an actor. Seeing Mark Hamill, Jim Carrey, and Jackie Chan just gave me this passion of wanting to be in the movies. Then one day when I was 12, I was sick as a dog, and my folks gave me some VHS tapes to watch while I stayed in bed. A lot of them were movies I had already watched but hadn’t seen in years (I.E: Shanghai Noon, Toy Story, The Mask), but there was one movie that they let me watch that I was always curious about. It was Pulp Fiction. After the credits rolled and seeing that one man wrote and directed the whole thing — it was mindblowing! One man basically came up with this whole scenario, all these characters? It was absolutely game-changing for me, and I had already had good feedback on my writing up until that point through school. So I started writing screenplays and learning as much as I could about filmmaking, and… here we are!
SKSM: When did you make Rest Stop? Can you tell me a little about the production? How much did it cost? How long did it take to film it?
Joshua Lozano: Oh man, how much time do you got? Basically, what happened was I was involved with a local production company in town. I had made a film with them, but I lamented the fact that there were so many issues all throughout production for it that I started to worry about my future. While I was still there, I found out about the Dollar Babies, and when I got the rights, I bought Just After Sunset and learned the story from beginning to end, even going so far as to write it down in a separate text document to send it to my crew. I got the rights back in October of 2018, and things just took off from there.
It was an absolute nightmare, from start to finish. When I started pre-production, I left the production company, but then my mom dislocated her ankle. I ended up taking two jobs while I was trying (and failing) to get pre-production finished so we could start filming. Then I had to quit them because it was overwhelming, and the other job almost got me killed. I ended up working at a movie theater where I met my composer Annessa Hernandez, which had so many perks, but it barely paid anything. Meanwhile, the actor we originally got for the main role, he did not have a good schedule for what we were aiming for. Up until the 11th hour, we were recasting and casting random roles, and still hadn’t secured locations. Then on August 4th, I was kicked out by my parents, and had to end up staying with my girlfriend and her dad. So while I was set to start shooting a mere five or so days after the fact, I was also looking for a fulltime job.
We started filming in August, and didn’t finish filming until October. My director of photography, Luis Moreno Ramirez, and my producer, Adam Lopez, were such troopers for holding up fort the way they did. There were certainly points where we came to blows, mostly because with my situation, I felt disconnected from the whole project and just had to sink or swim. But with Adam putting up over $3,000 for this film, it felt like I needed to power through — someone wouldn’t invest this much into an idea I had unless they believed in me, right?
It was a race against time, because I found out Rest Stop was purchased by Alex Perry Ross to be turned into a feature, and that meant there would be no extensions for production. In addition to that, on September, our actor had school and a job, so shooting slowed to a crawl! I was freaking out every second, and the lowest point was shooting a scene at a bar, and we had to deal with a heckling bar patron who was harassing our actress. It felt like every victory was cut-short, and we had very little time.
Pre, pro, and post production done in ONE year. Comparatively, it was more like 8 months. It was absolutely laborious, but we finally got it done… by some miracle, we were able to get it done!
SKSM: How come you picked Rest Stop to develop into a movie? What is it in the story that you like so much?
Joshua Lozano: You know… it’s interesting, when I looked at the whole list of available stories to adapt, I had to tell myself to hold off and look at the stories carefully. That said, when I saw Rest Stop’s title, it already intrigued me — it was as if the title was calling to me, and very vivid images started entering my mind. Then I looked into what the story was, and I was completely in love with the storytelling potential. I didn’t see a horror movie, but the idea of a character — an author, even — being torn apart and losing every sense of his identity until he just kinda falls into his pseudonym through dark, violent thoughts, it showed me that there’s a real character study here that was just so damn fun and interesting to get into! As a writer myself, it made me excited to work on a story that shows how emotional this can be. You know, there’s so many discussions about method actors and how they carry their characters with them, but writers carry the entire story with them, the tone and the dialogue and characters, and it can really mentally get to you. I wanted to explore that through this.
SKSM: How did you find out that King sold the movie rights to some of his stories for just $1? Was it just a wild guess or did you know it before you sent him the check?
Joshua Lozano: Funnily enough, I found out about it from my Grandma. Before things went south, she always sent me articles to help me out with my filmmaking. A few years ago, she sent me an article about King, and I just kinda forgot about it until I thought about it and realized “Well… this really could help me out! This could be a lot of fun!”
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when you made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Joshua Lozano: There was actually one really special moment that I had on set with the crew and the actors. It was the second to last day in August we were shooting, and we were shooting the climactic scene in the rest stop bathroom. This was the biggest thing in the whole film — it was basically the whole of the story written by King! We went to a park bathroom nearby my parent’s house, and my producer Adam Lopez got up and removed the fluorescent lights so that we could light the set as dingy as I wanted it to. We shot from 9 PM, I believe, all the way until 1PM, and we managed to get every single set-up I wanted in that area. Everyone went home except for me, my cinematographer Luis, my make-up artists Adilene Villarreal, and one of the actors there, Paola Dubrule. Rather than go home, we were all still really jazzed up and decided to go to Ihop and get some food in our system. We stayed in that restaurant for… god — it must’ve been hours? We stayed there until the clouds started to brighten, and either Luis or Paola must’ve had the bright idea to go somewhere to watch the sunrise. So we got in my truck I was borrowing, courtesy of my father-in-law, and we drove out nearby Luis’ house to a construction site, and parked by an empty lot as the sun blossomed out from the horizon. Then, Luis — he must’ve been completely hyper because of the lack of sleep — started really getting excited about getting doughnuts. So we started driving to Krispy Kreme, all the while blasting on “Young, Dumb and Broke” by Khalid.
We felt invincible… it was a huge challenge pulling everything off, and we all were able to do it. We were a family. Are a family.
We still talk about how – after the COVID-19 pandemic eases up – we should meet up and do it all again, another all night adventure/celebration.
SKSM: How does it feel that all the King fans out there can’t see your movie? Do you think that will change in the future? Maybe a internet/dvd release would be possible?
Joshua Lozano: It feels more upsetting, because we poured a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it, and it’s something we are unbelievably proud of. When you struggle so much on a project, the ability to see how others react to it is what makes it worthwhile.
I hope against hope that we are able to show it to more people, hopefully with an internet release, given the state of the world. I’ve been trying to see what can be done.
SKSM: What “good or bad” reviews have you received on your film?
Joshua Lozano: Everyone has been overwhelmingly positive with the film! We were hoping to make something in El Paso that didn’t feel like it was good for an El Paso film, but good as a film in general. The cinematography by Luis was widely praised, the music by my fantastic composer Annessa was praised all around, the acting has been a highlight for my lead star Brad Lee Thomason, who is just a dynamite talent. Even the pacing was something I was worried about, but people have enjoyed how it passes by, but feels as slow enough to rest with everyone.
If there’s one thing that people have complained about, it’s the spotty sound, which we could only do so much with given our short time to get it done. Though I wish that we could’ve done it proper, like given a second chance to do some parts right.
SKSM: Do you plan to screen the movie at a particular festival?
Joshua Lozano: Actually, we are! It’s won a few awards at a couple of festivals (Los Angeles Motion Picture Festival, Pinnacle Awards), and I submitted it to the Mindfield Film Festival in Alberquerque, New Mexico, the New Orleans Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, Cannes Short Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Torino Underground Film Fest, Raindance Film Festival, and once I get a little extra money, I even plan on submitting it to Sundance.
In addition to this, I also plan on submitting it to the El Paso Plaza Classic Film Festival, with the hope that the city will be open by then to have it screen in my hometown. It would be so rewarding to be able to have this film premiere here.
SKSM: Are you a Stephen King fan? If so, which are your favorite works and adaptations?
Joshua Lozano: Oh I absolutely love him! Oddly enough, I love his more experimental, non-horror stories like The Green Mile and Shawshank Redemption (which are also my favorite adaptations, to the point where Frank Darabont’s approach to his adaptations drove me through my approach to touching the King of Horror’s work). If there’s one I absolutely love though, it’s his Hard Crime stories like The Colorado Kid and Joyland, which just scratch that pulpy itch that I have.
SKSM: Did you have any personal contact with King during the making of the movie? Has he seen it (and if so, what did he think about it)?
Joshua Lozano: I never got to talk to him personally, but his assistant Margaret was really courteous to me and my questions! He hasn’t seen it yet, but I would LOVE to see what he thinks of it. I remember seeing what he said about most Dollar Babies, and it’s a challenge to see if he’ll love my stab at his work or not. If he likes it, it would be the best praise I could ever get. If he doesn’t, I’ll know I need to work harder!
SKSM: Do you have any plans for making more movies based on Stephen King’s stories? If you could pick -at least- one story to shoot, which one would it be and why?
Joshua Lozano: Man… after the stress of this film, I don’t want to think of adapting another short story with the resources I’ve got. However, if I were given the opportunity to adapt some of his stories to the big screen… The Colorado Kid and Joyland would be dreams, just because I would love to approach those as neo-noir films — those are my bread and butter.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Joshua Lozano: Right now, I’m focusing on three things: writing screenplays for myself and local studios in town that I want to work with, working on my YouTube channel called joshboy64 that is primarily a video essay/film criticism channel, and co-hosting a series of podcasts on a website that I am a part of with a close friend of mine called “Renegade Pop Culture.”
I want to do a new short film soon, completely different from Rest Stop, that is a romance. However, things are a bit topsy turvy right now… Hopefully, we can do it soon!
SKSM: What one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Joshua Lozano: I used to want to be a musician! I tried to learn the guitar thanks to my grandfather, but I just didn’t have the discipline. My dream instrument I’d love to learn is the piano.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Joshua Lozano: Even in the face of absolute uncertainty, if you keep pushing through, with the right support at your side, you can achieve your wildest dreams. It seems easy to give up when things go wrong, but when it all comes together, it’s beautiful. When the film finally came together and I saw the final cut, I was in tears.
If there’s any artists out there… just create, make it happen. Trust me, you will be rewarded just by it existing. It can only be done by you.
SKSM: Would you like to add anything else?
Joshua Lozano: Any agents out there… my lines are open. Warner Bros., just letting you know, I’d make a killer Blue Beetle film!