Movies and Martial Arts: Interview with Filmmaker Eduardo Castrillo
Actor, writer, filmmaker and martial artist Eduardo Castrillo got to wear all those hats on his latest film, ‘’Worth’’. The movie, now available on various platforms including Amazon Prime, tells of a Muay Thai Kickboxing champ who, while training for the title belt, is juggling family dramas and complicated relationships.
Eduardo recently discussed this project via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): Can you tell us about your background in martial arts?
Eduardo Castrillo (EC): When I was a kid, I took karate classes for a few years, moved up 5–6 belts and then stopped when I got into high school. I wouldn’t train in anything until I got to college, first studying Aikido then finally settling into Muay Thai, which is what I’ve been training in for about 9 years now.
MM: And what was the inspiration for getting into martial arts?
EC: I was about 20–21 when Koa Training Academy opened up in our city and my mom bought me a one-month membership there to study Muay Thai. I was going through a heartbreak at the time and I think she just wanted me to stop moping around. But her plan worked. The staff was friendly, my instructor was very welcoming and helpful, and I fell in love with the art right away.
MM: Besides physical benefits, have you noticed mental benefits to doing it?
EC: I feel a lot happier in life when I’m training Muay Thai. The exercise keeps me calm and relaxed afterwards but during sparring I feel like the mix between adrenaline and your instincts working together, gives you an amazing fun feeling that’s hard to put into words. And a lot of the time you’re training with friends and people you know so there’s no ego involved. Which is important.
MM: Have you practiced many different forms of martial arts?
EC: Since starting Muay Thai I haven’t really trained in anything else. I’ve taken a few jiu jitsu classes but I honestly should do more.
MM: Did you enter the film industry to be an actor or filmmaker? Or a combination of both?
EC: I started out with taking two years in acting classes before going to film school. I feel like both present a set of challenges that make me want to work harder and get better at both. I still have a lot to learn but I’m happy being a student in something that makes me happy and creative.
MM: How did Worth come to be?
EC: Worth is a passion project that came out of being in a fight gym so many years of my life. Being friends with professional fighters and learning their stories made it so I could see the film every time I was at the gym. Once I started writing and got the blessing to film at Koa, I knew I had to complete this story.
MM: It was the story inspired by your own journey?
EC: The story itself is 90% based on true stories. It’s a hybrid of experiences of my life, my friend and pro fighter Jose Palacios’s life, stories from all my trainers and coaches over the years. There was a lot of good material there, I just had to figure out what the message was I wanted to get across. What the reason was this story needed to be told. Once I decided to play the character Ricky, I knew what it was.
MM: Can you relate to your character?
EC: I can relate to the character of Ricky in that he goes through a lot of roller coasters in life. A lot of ups and downs and he just has to roll with the punches. That’s life. Our personalities are very different though. That was one of the fun parts of playing this character, who is social and talkative, just getting to explore a more extrovert side of things. Being a writer you get used to being a silent type.
MM: Did you have any pre-existing relationships with the cast?
EC: Almost all of the cast I was friends with before shooting which I really think helps bring a natural chemistry on screen. It was my first time working with Tony Todd though so we talked and had some rehearsal time before shooting which really helped. He’s a master of his craft and I learned so much from reading with him.
MM: Does having someone like Tony Todd in the movie help get you distribution?
EC: Tony Todd is such an iconic actor with many fan favorite films, like Candyman, under his belt that it does help in getting distribution. However, this story was such a personal one that I had decided to self-distribute through an aggregator. An aggregator is basically a company that helps you place on to online platforms for a fee, allowing you to get your movie out there while keeping your rights to the film. So now even though we are a small independent film, fans of Tony’s or anyone else can find us on popular streaming sites.
MM: What is the message of the movie?
EC: I feel like the message of the movie is that it’s okay to not be on top all the time. We all go through things. We all have moments in our life that are difficult and we feel like we are at rock bottom. That’s okay. Those feelings will fade. New experiences happen. Tomorrow is a new day. A day to try again and climb a little higher. To keep going to till you do reach the top.
MM: Any advice for those wishing to become a filmmaker?
EC: Advice I have for an aspiring filmmaker is through lessons I learned with training Muay Thai. Be a student. Take your ego out. Treat your peers with kindness, because we’re all here to grow and get better. Everything else is the easy part.