Monday, January 31, 2011

The Milk of hope... fund raiser on the way

Well, no one said independent filmmaking was a walk in the park. I hope my blog does not persuade you to abandon your dreams and artistic ambitions.

Back in October Alci Medina (Cinematographer, best friend and regular collaborator) and I met with a publicist friend. Alci insisted that this lady was the right person to help us with our fund raising efforts, and a person who had experience with such events.  We met with her and we had a productive meeting.  She liked the project, and since she had already seen screeners of my previous short films such as "Hispaniola", "The Woman from Columbus Circle" and "Pinchos y Rolos",  she knew there was care and quality in my and Alci's work.

However, a week or so after our meeting, she convinced us to not even attempt at throwing a fund raiser during the holiday season. November was out of the question, according to her, because it was too soon. She was partly right.  Unfortunately, a lot of the promises never came to fruition.  After emails and calls that would go answer for days at a time, we were finally informed, after we waited many weeks, that her family life had gotten complicated and that she was sorry, but she could not do the event and was in fact taking a break from doing PR work.  It was fine with me and I understood, but I wished she had told us this sooner as we now realized that it was next to impossible to do the fund raiser at the end of January like we would've liked. I think she's a beautiful person, but I think she should had been more upfront with us. In fact she told us she would help us spread out the word when we do the fund raiser.  I appreciated the gesture.

Alex Guerero

Because of my past experiences, I already was implementing a plan B for the venue and the date of the fund raiser.  Well, this illustrate perfectly the road blocks and shit that you encounter as a producer when getting an independent film, be it a feature or short off the ground.

For the fund raiser, both Alci and I agree that we should have some kind of art work or poster that would illustrate the film, and perhaps give a copy of the poster along with a DVD of my short film Hispaniola to the first fifty people who would show up for the fund raiser.  The idea is that for $20 you would get free drinks and hors-d'oeuvres for two hours, watch the interview shot in the DR with the real subject of my short film, Sonia Marmolejos, and perhaps also see "Hispaniola". Basically you would walk away with a poster and a DVD if you show up early. Not to mention that you can dance your ass off and get tipsy for a good cause.

So, with the help of Alex Guerrero, a friend who I met through the producer of the documentary I'm cutting and directing (The Faces Behind Madame Alexander's Dolls), I hired a relative of an actress friend of mine who happened to have a six month old baby who she happened to be breast feeding.  Her name is Barby Florentino and she was wonderful, the only problem was that her baby was too light skinned to have that contrast we were after. But we decided to shoot the pictures anyway in hopes that at least it would serve as a dry run for the real poster. We decided that we would get a black baby and take the picture with the same actress.

Barby Florentino and her baby girl.

The task of locating a black baby, be it Latino or not, proved more daunting that we thought, specially if you're paying very little.  We asked around but either the babies were too big, in some cases nearly a year old or the were still in the bellies of their mothers.  So after a few days a light bulb turned on in my head:  Why not have the picture taken in the Dominican Republic by a photographer.  That way, my aunt Elizabeth Ovalle who would be doing the casting for the short would be able to get a Dominican lactating mother and a Haitian baby for the picture.  Right now we're in the process of doing that and hopefully next week we'll have the photo session and give Alex Guerrero the materials so he could start doing his thing. Kudos to Rider Urena, who owns the painting studio where we shot the pictures. Thank you Barby Florentino for being such a trooper and posing without any problem for the picture we need.

Relaxing after the photo shoot. Left to right
Rider Urena, Barby Florentito and Alex Guerreo.

My own mom made a trip to little haiti in Santo Domingo, but it turns out that because the Dominican government is stepping up it's deportation of undocumented haitians, many undocumented mothers and their babies and in hiding at the moment. The reason for the the Dominican government to be doing this is they say to stop the spread of cholera to the D.R. There are 150 confirmed cases in the Dominican Republic as of this writing.

To make matters worse, the feature documentary I'm currently working on has been taking longer than anticipated, due in no small part to the fact that the executive producer added last minute interviews and also because I had to wear many hats other than director/editor.  Because of this I still have to finish editing the interview I shot back in July 2010 with Sonia. It's crucial that this interview be ready not only for the fund raiser in NYC but also for Juan Basanta (DR producer) so he can pitch it to a couple of potential government individuals or institutions who may want to back something like this.

I'll post the picture of the Haitian baby breast feeing from Dominican mother Until next time... and thanks for reading.

P.S. I mean to upload this post more than a week ago. I'm happy to report we got the pictures back from the D.R. and they look fantastic. We'll post those at the end of the week. Thanks for following our blogg. We also got a place and a date for the fundraiser. Will send out invites tomorrow.