Seeing a film is always an eye-opening experience. From wonderful films such as Ran, or The Motorcycle Diaries, to total duds such as Death Wish III, these films have all come from one place; a person’s imagination. In that case, the back stories behind films are just as exciting as the movies. People have turned into monsters, actors into divas and the people who have financed them into total Shylocks all for a simple wish: to turn a script into a motion picture.
On Sunday April 26th, I went to a talk as part of the Tribeca Film Festival about directors who are also screenwriters. Two of the directors were Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte, the creators of the film Entre Nos. Sitting in a thin chair for an hour at a Barnes and Noble is not easy work, especially when you have a tempting book selection right next to you, but Mendoza and La Morte kept me occupied. Even though the film is based on Mendoza’s real-life story (read our review of the film), for me the talk was illluminating about film production in general.
Both Mendoza and La Morte stated that there was a sense of egalitarianism in production; the assistant director helped with whatever was needed of him/her and the directors themselves stated that they were mindful of the fact that not only was it more comfortable making a film that way, they stated that they “thrive on co-operation.”
However, one of the biggest Achilles’ Heel in independent film is naturally enough, a budget. The directors scoured wherever they could to find extra funding such as government or city grants from Colombia and the U.S. Mendoza even said that “it was sad that the Colombians gave us more money than the U.S for our film.” Another pratfall is the interference of their patrons into their work, risking artistic integrity in the process. “One time, I met with one of our financial backers and our film is a drama film and he goes, ’that’s great, but maybe we could turn the movie into a version of Little Miss Sunshine, you know, have the homeless people help the family or whatever and at the end, the mother and kids live happily in a house.’ Needless to say, Mendoza was not impressed.
Altogether, the talk was a good experience, and this gives me a good lesson: If you are going into film, make sure you have rich friends, and even more importantly, develop the ability to charm the pants off your backers. Oh and I almost forgot: have a good script!