Who remembers watching Predator and being fascinated by its graphics? Fast-forward several years later and “PREY,” a prequel to Predator, is released.
It first went live on August 2nd, 2022 on Hulu and the plot screamed diversity. There’s Indigenous representation, the behind-the-scenes is filled with BIPOC creators, and everyone on the project was mindful of how to execute the production.
One of those people who made sure PREY was a success was Claudia Castello. Truly a badass, who enjoys adventure as much as good wave swells to surf on, she made sure the story was told properly through her superb editing skills.
Currently, living in both El Salvador and L.A., Castello is a multi-hyphenated Latina originally from Copacabana, Brazil. She’s a director, editor, writer – a well-rounded filmmaker in all the senses of the word. She’s worked on Black Panther with director Ryan Coogler. Alongside Coogler, she’s collaborated on award-winning films such as Fruitvale Station, which starred Michael B. Jordan, and the box office hit, Creed, also starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.
Castello’s success, like that of many Latinas, didn’t take the fast lane. The steps she took to get her to where she is today started off on a different path. In fact, she was once a professional athlete in Brazil.
“I became a professional athlete and I started teaching kids from my communities,” she told BELatina News in a recent interview. “So very early in life, I was invested in all kinds of people.”
She recalls her mom working long hours and not having much educational support at home. Therefore, she and her siblings found solace in going to the beach and spending time playing sports.
“That kind of saved me because I had the sport. The spot led to me having a scholarship to a very nice university.”
Her scholarship led her to choose journalism as her undergrad degree.
After finalizing her degree, Castello tried to search for a job. However, all she was finding were entry-level positions that didn’t pay well, so she decided to move to the United States to learn English.
“I thought, well, if I learn English, maybe I can come back with something else, and then my path would be quicker. But then I never came back.”
Castello shared a few defining moments in her career from then on. Let’s take a look at what she had to say.
We spoke about what led her to her current position.
[I felt] my English was never good enough. So, I started taking broadcasting classes, movie classes, and I was like, you know what, “why don’t I start trying to work in the area here?” By that time, I was already a resident, and I started looking for a job in the area of documentaries, but an opportunity to work in a production company fell in my lap. It was a boutique commercial company, and they did a lot of big commercials, but it was a small production based in São Paulo.
We spoke about her obstacles.
There wasn’t a lot of diversity in the first place I moved to the United States. And my English was very broken at the time. So, for me to be respected took a lot. It was a daily struggle just to be able to be myself. It took me four years to get over that depression. But I had a commitment to learning English. When I moved to L.A., it was another world that opened up for me. There were diverse people from all over the world.
That was when I started working at a production company. Soon enough, after I did the editing course at night, I decided that I needed to learn so much more about movie making to feel secure about what I do because I found out that is what I loved.
There was also a difficult time during Black Panther. I had to leave halfway [through the production] because I didn’t feel like I fit the environment. It was a constant struggle every day just for the people who worked with me to look at me when I talked. So, that was one of the most difficult times in my career. But I chose to say, “hold on, it’s my health first here,” and I don’t regret it.
I think after I left, I learned a lot from that experience. [For example,] the pipeline of a huge production was very intensive. It was an intensive course for me, and I got all that experience. And, of course, I use all of that in every project I work on now, and I can do a big project easily.
Despite the trauma, I bring all the learning that I got from that. And I’m very grateful and happy that I can turn experiences that were once hard, and allow them to make me stronger.
We spoke about the type of filmmaker Castello is.
I’m not the filmmaker that has an encyclopedia of knowledge of who the directors are, the actors, and all the movies. I’m not going to be that person that’s going to have everything right on the spot to tell you which scene was shot and which actors are. Yes, I have my references, but I didn’t grow up with that [type of training.]
What I bring to the table is actually the life I lived – being raised by a single mom, not having a dad. Most of the people I work with didn’t go through the same experiences. So, I think it’s very valuable to have somebody with different points of view working with you.
We spoke about ‘PREY.’
What struck me about Prey is because it was a franchise from Predator, I knew it was going to be fun. I also knew it was already going to be something that people would be interested in. Plus, it was a movie whose main fighter was an indigenous woman trying to fight a sexist society in the 1700s. So, the fact that there was an indigenous woman and we have very few movies with that kind of representation, I was like, “oh, this is the movie I want to make.”
We spoke about what advice she’d like to give to emerging filmmakers.
One of the ways to make connections and enter the industry is to look for grad student productions. At this point, these people are already trained. They already kind of know what they’re doing. Most of them do know a lot about what they’re doing, and they’re going to step up. I think with that experience, you can build a portfolio, you can start your career there, and then you can also build relationships with those people who usually pay a lot of money to be there. You won’t be paying that kind of money, but you’ll be participating in making the connections. If you’re good, passionate enough, humble, and willing to learn and collaborate, you can make it because there are so many new productions coming together now. There’s so much content being made. I feel that there is a lot of work for people.
For directors, it’s the most competitive. So, you can be frustrated a lot as a director, but if it’s what you want, go for it. Try. The other way around it is to be an editor, sound designer, or sound mixer – there are way more opportunities and sometimes you’re going to be happier doing that. So, it’s something to consider also. And it’s beautiful. It’s also creative. Some people, even the Academy, call those technical jobs. But I disagree. I think it’s more creative than technical.