“Japanese Borscht” is a new release by filmmaker Eric Rivas’ that is actually a remake of his cult-classic film of the same name. The film features Eric in the role of David, a man who is so desperate to reunite with his stepdaughter that he seeks the help of Japanese Goodfellas. It will premiere in New York City at Anthology Film Archives on October 5.
Eric Rivas recently discussed the film via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get interested in the film industry and how many movies have you made to date?
Eric Rivas (ER): I was an actor and it was tough to make it. I’m Latino, yet no one bought it as far as auditions. I’d get called in and turned away a lot because I didn’t look Hispanic. It got to be frustrating. I changed my name to my Argentine father’s mothers’ maiden name of Ferrari and when I did that, I began auditioning against with so many Italians, I didn’t stand a chance. I had to start making my own films to star in! I have made ten films so far.
MM: How did you initially come up with the idea for “Japanese Borscht?”
ER: This was an original idea birthed out of the fact that I couldn’t land acting jobs. I had visions in my mind that I wanted to try and create in reality. I began shooting with a vacation camera using friends and fellow actors. I found the two balanced each other perfectly: raw street guys with some seasoned acting school friends.
MM: What was it like making that first film?
ER: It was a freedom knowing that I could do the things that I see and love in the movies. That I can create a world for me to act in and give many others the same chance. I didn’t have to beg for auditions or do bad films or plays. The first play I starred in at Sanford Meisner Theater was for 95 people. Sometimes there were only ten people in the audience and one time one of those ten was snoring in the first row!
MM: Why did you think the film needed a remake?
ER: The first film was loaded with passion, drive and determination. Yet I was learning to shoot and edit and just beginning to understand the importance of lighting. Also, the technology from 10 years ago was way different. Today’s iPhone would shoot better than the camera I had 10 years ago. I knew I needed to tell this story better.
MM: Are the cast and settings the same?
ER: Cast is about 50% the same and settings are about 90% the same. Gian Luca Camissane flew in from Italy to shoot! We always said we would re do it and so when we got the green light, he was on the next plane.
MM: What was your favorite scene to shoot and why?
ER: I enjoyed shooting at Coney Island because it’s like my birth place.
MM: Favorite line from film?
ER: “Its time Meng.” Luca couldn’t pronounce “its time man” and it became a huge joke with us. Down to the point that when I wanted to re-make the film, I called him and said “ITS TIME MENG!”
MM: What do you hope moviegoers take away from “Japanese Borscht?”
ER: A new film experience. I don’t think I followed any film rules with “Japanese Borscht”. It may border on being called art.
MM: Where do you go from here? What are your ultimate career goals?
ER: I want to make a huge Hollywood blockbuster but with my own indie style. Making films is all I do. I want to keep going. I see Amazon and Sony in the forecast…and soon!
Eric Rivas’ remake of “Japanese Borscht” will premiere in New York City at Anthology Film Archives on October 5. For tickets, visit https://m.facebook.com/events/anthology-film-archives/japanese-borscht-film-premiere/3006417166041738/