Thursday, February 20, 2014

In the Can and on the (Digital) Flatbed

Over the years it was far from certain we’d get to this stage of the Citizen project: Post-Production. Editing the film, putting the pieces together, bringing the vision to life. But that’s what’s happening right now and it's truly exciting.

About a year ago the project seemed further from production than ever. Still no producer or funding in place it was certainly one of the low points in the development of Citizen. After four years of work I was seriously considering shelving the whole thing for a while. As persistent, as passionate as I was about this project it was time to get something done, with Citizen, or something else.

It came differently and with Ralf Weinfurtner, our producer, showing up on the scene the ball got rolling. During the casting process, about four weeks before the mid-November shoot date, things started really heating up. I think we had 58 speaking roles to cast; to audition, sort through, and call back hundreds of people, then audition some more. I hadn't directed anything for quite some time so call backs and rehearsals were a welcome refresh! At the same time our DP, Production Designer, Make-Up Artist (design and application of tattoos) and I were working out the look and feel of the film.

One aspect I was particularly excited about because it was an essential part of our inclusive philosophy, was to strongly collaborate with people who were affected in one way or another by youth and gang-related violence. This is were the relationships came in that I had formed over the years. Those included gang prevention, intervention and rehabilitation organizations like Homeboy Industries and Operation Street Kidz (Josof 'Jojo' Sanchez & Julie Matsumoto) and their clients, the Homies.

Abraham, Bomber, Jacob (Homeboy), Fats
The film is to a great degree carried by the naturalistic, pure performances of first-time actors of all ages and I’m very proud of what we achieved together. It’s an entirely different, a challenging and risky but rewarding process and I consider myself lucky to have met these amazing, committed, smart, scarred, contradicting, funny and talented pee wees and veteranos who took the plunge and joined the cast.

I learned invaluable lessons during the production of my previous short film Ticked, which features a cast of non-actors and even a crew made up of high schoolers with no filmmaking experience. That helped me improve my approach this time around. It didn't, however, prevent last minute recasts or no-shows, and didn't prepare me for lengthy “negotiations” with school officials to let some of their students be part of Citizen. Among other things those did result in extra, pre-sunrise lap runs for some of our young performers.

More soon on how I accidentally found my Zen.

Take a look at some photos from behind the scenes here.

1 comment:

  1. YAY! :) Glad to hear editing is now in progress - can't wait to see the final product! -