OUR POST-PRODUCTION SUPERSTARS
Several years ago I was approached by a childhood friend about directing a feature film he had written. It was personal - a dramatization of a trek he took across Colombia with his estranged brother to spread their father's ashes. I’d met his father once, a long time ago, and was struck by his unique presence. He was aggressive and unpredictable. He seemed to move through life as if a deep, invisible current guided him on an unseen path through places hidden from the rest of us. Now, in death, his spirit would guide his sons on their own unseen paths. It was simple and universal. Honored, I accepted my friend's offer and got to work. A thousand decisions lay ahead of me, but first I had to learn more about the man at the center of the story. His Colombian roots ran deep. Born in Bogota to a large family, he was a runaway and an outlaw by the time he was 18 and, by all accounts, a legendary heartbreaker. He lived most of his adult life in the United States, and fathered two sons with different mothers. In death, the tales of his wild youth took on a mythical resonance. To his family back home, he was a legend. It became clear that the only way to tell this story properly would be to travel to Colombia and find this man for myself. As a passion project, the film had no real budget. Creativity would be my biggest advantage. I imagined the shoot as a heist. With a crew of six specialists, we would make our way across the country undetected, stealing scenes as we went, shooting at locations where the actual events took place, casting family, friends, even lovers of this now-mythical man to play fictionalized versions of themselves opposite our professional leads. The story was there; our job was to seize it and return home with it in our possession. Our producer took out a high interest line of credit and we booked round trip tickets. We had 35 days to come back with a movie. We began planning the heist. Pre-production involved scouting locations we had never seen and hiring actors we had never met. I spoke no Spanish. As our departure date approached, I considered the real possibility that the film wouldn't work. I was sure this run-and-gun approach had been attempted before. The microbudget independent film landscape was most likely littered with projects of this nature. Talented auteurs with important stories had seen their grand visions lost to the unforgiving realities of an expensive - and sometimes exclusive - medium. Out of necessity, we shot the film on a digital SLR, which had extreme limitations. The movie demanded to look beautiful. Could I push the camera further than had been done before? Could I communicate with my actors in a language that transcended language? Would Colombia cooperate with us? Most importantly, could I find the man at the center of our story, although he now existed only through his land and people? I had plenty of questions as we set out for Bogota but, like any worthy challenge, the answers would not reveal themselves so easily. Like the heroes of our film, we had to search an entire country to find them... And now, after years of dedication on behalf of myself and the fearless team of filmmakers who put this story on the screen, you, the audience, are invited to take the journey for yourself.