29 November 2016

An Interview With A Film Director!

As an aspiringwriter/director, it is always amazing when I see other women in the industry absolutely bossing it. There are definitely still a lot of issues with equality in the film industry (in fact I have a whole post about that here!) but things are changing and it's exciting. When Catalina Gonzalez got in contact with me about a collaboration between her film and my blog, I jumped at the chance!

Catalina's film is called Ekaj and is about Homeless LGBTQ youth in New York. The Film touches on various topics such as Homelessness, HIV/AIDS Awareness, Bullying, Drug Addiction, Rejection, Love and Perseverance. EKAJ is a love story between two drifters, a naive teenager and a hustler. Ekaj meets Mecca who takes him under his care. Mecca has AIDS and multiple problems of his own. He is high all day but still manages to be the only voice of reason in Ekaj’s hopeless world. They cruise the city together looking for money and places to stay. Although Ekaj makes some money as a prostitute, he finds himself discarded, and lacking what it takes to survive in the city. Their mutual loneliness leads to genuine friendship.

The film is currently doing the film festival run in both Europe and the USA and has won numerous awards including "Best Film" at the NY Downton Urban Arts Festival and the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival. It has also just recently been selected to be screened at another festival called “IDYLLWILD Film Festival” which is considered a “Mini Sundance”I was lucky enough to be able to interview Catalina about the film, but if you would like to watch the trailer first then you can click this link here!

What gave you the idea for the film?

I   I wrote the script inspired by “Midnight Cowboy” but with Nuyoricans from the Bronx. I know many from the fashion scene in NYC and I have always liked their style and rawness.

How long did it take to film?

It took us about 3 years to complete the Film. We could have had it done earlier but I took my time to see Jake grow a bit in the film.

I really like the documentary style to the film, what made you want to shoot it in this way?

I had been a Photographer for many years working in the Fashion Industry and Music Industry doing Portraits go B.I.G., Pharrell Williams, Common, Russell Simmons, David Cronnenberg, Jamie King, Chloe Sevigny, etc. My style has always been the same, www.catiandmikegonzalezfilms.com   To be honest, I really don’t think much about it, I just go with my emotions and shoot.

Many of the conversations between the characters seem very realistic, especially when Ekaj and the Mecca are at the table.  How much of the dialogue was scripted and how much was improvised?

Both, I let them interpret the script with their own words and sometimes they got carried away and it worked great but Ekaj is more scripted then people think, eighty percent of the time. I would read and they would repeat, since they didn’t learned their lines.

The actors didn't seem like your average "beautiful" actor but instead very real. How did you cast the film?

Working in Fashion help me find people easier. I have always liked raw beauty. I found Jake Mestre on Facebook through a friend of a friends page and fell in love with his beauty immediately. I rarely look for new faces to discover but his just stood out to me. I wanted to make him into a model and took him to several agencies but he was still immature and wasn’t ready. I had just finished writing the script and was about to give up on him and then I thought, he could be a perfect [fit] for the film being that he was rebellious like the character, so I casted him. I  already had met another young man that was related to my partner Mike. He too was really beautiful but in a rougher way. He ended up dropping out in the middle of the film and I had to re-cast. That’s when I found Badd Idea. He fitted the part perfectly.

Is this your first feature film?

Yes. I also have a new feature script that I’m currently working on that’s in the second draft phase which I also hope to get on the screen.

If you could describe the film in 3 words what would you say?

Real, raw and heartbreaking

And finally, any advice for aspiring film makers reading this who want to make their first feature?

Set your dreams high, you can always bring them down a step but begin with the top. Never give up. No matter how hard the road may be or what people say to discourage you, just keep pushing forward with your vision. Anything is possible if you believe in it.

You can watch the full film here. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!


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