On My Radar: Indie Film EL VIAJE DE ANA MARIA & My BFF Rose Is Amazing
I had a great time visiting family last week in Cali and those feelings are best summed up in the Cali Visit 2009 set I took with my new Blackberry Storm (handy Flickr app).
What I really want to talk about is my experience observing my best friend Rose Hernandez co-produce her first feature film, El Viaje de Ana Maria.
I’ve known Rose since I was thirteen. She approached an aloof, loner Daniela in the ninth grade. Rose was the most popular girl in school and I was sort of like Lydia Deetz in Beetle Juice, so I didn’t get it. She was persistent, however, and enticed me with an outing to see Hackers, a film that changed my life. We’ve been BFF’s ever since.
She is a year and a half older than me, so I looked up to her and we had a lot of fun together getting into trouble as youngsters. We both had an interest in eventual media careers. She has always had a strong will and is very passionate about filmmaking.
After she surprised me by entering the military with her husband Tony (I hooked them up in High School), she had her first child (my god daughter Trinidy) and settled into an engineering role at Univision, a Spanish-language television network in the United States and Puerto Rico. She recently had her second child five months ago, so I assumed she had set aside her filmmaking goals for a more tranquil life. I was so wrong and am so happy to be proven wrong!
El Viaje de Ana Maria Trailer from Alex Guimoye on Vimeo.
Rose joined the El Viaje crew more than halfway into their production as a line producer, while they finish the final US based shoots. Her role has since evolved to encompass everything from playing a small part in the film to coordinating marketing events, one that I attended with her in El Dorado County at their film commission mixer. In between raising two young children, keeping a full time job and moving into a new home, Rose (with the support of amazing Tony) put together a great presentation at the mixer and spoke on the director’s behalf. I could sense she was tired and we didn’t get to hang out as much as I would have liked to, but I don’t care. What’s most important to me is that she’s not using any excuses (that would be totally understandable) to keep her from pursuing her goals.
I want to support her as much as I can through the rest of this film and her future projects. She continues to be an inspiration for me. Before, her inspiration was as a young mother who maintains a loving home and family through numerous obstacles. She showed me that unconditional love is possible in any environment. Now, she is inspiring me in another important area of my life – my own progression as a filmmaker. If Rose can do it, so can I.
Here are some photos I took on their second to last shoot. The setting is a decrepit old farmhouse on the outskirts of Sacramento. In it’s natural state, this location beat anything that a set designer could think up. Lonely cots in the attic. Gloomy, bare light bulbs. Wild vines crowding the windows. Scary ancient stuffed animals stuffed in corners. The stuff of great horror – at no cost. This crew was so resourceful – most locations were used for free. Their prop master/costume designer Kareem coincidentally was also in the military, and he made the most amazing straitjacket out of a sack and some leather straps. I loved the diversity of both cast and crew – seeing so many people working together and being excited about their surroundings was truly inspirational.
At 19 years old and pregnant, a young and impressionable Ana Maria struggles to make ends meet. Juggling a new job, her drunken husband and a unique home situation, she begins to question her place in this world. Her obsessed boss is determined to open her naÃ¯ve mind to the world of mind travel and the esoteric. Eyes wide open, Ana Maria finds herself susceptible to a supernatural environment as she battles to keep her sanity.
Behind EL VIAJE DE ANA MARIA
(from website) The El Viaje de Ana Maria production began in 2008 when Alejandro Guimoye, Nick Kalbach, and Devon Lee (Tres Vagos) set out to Panama to film a feature for less than $1,500.00. Shooting HD, they hit the ground running with only 13 days to scout, acquire locations, casting, and complete production. The film was created using non actors, borrowed equipment and lots of sweat. During post production it was decided to make it a full feature by adding four complimentary scenes. Los Vagos made the call to fly Sonia Graell, the film’s lead, to the U.S. to wrap up four remaining scenes. Meanwhile a U.S. crew is being assembled to complete the dream.
My Two Cents
The crew has been shooting their final scenes in US locations since February, most recently in Sacramento, CA. They have two more shoots to go and then they will begin post production. The amount of support (most without pay) that they’ve managed to round up is astounding. Director Alejandro Guimoye (and editor and shooter at One Source Media) has put 100% of himself into this film and his own personal story could be a film on it’s own.
This production has found every cost cutting measure imaginable. In addition to writing/directing/co-producing, Alex designed the film’s website. His crew blogs and they have created several vlogs that share their production experiences. They are identifying film festivals and events best suited to promote their film and don’t intend to stop with El Viaje. If all goes according to plan, Rose and Alex (along with other dedicated partners) have some exciting projects in the works that I’m not at liberty to share at this moment, but definitely will when the time is right.
I think EL VIAJE DE ANA MARIA would be a great fit for the New York International Latino Film Festival, along with a few other festivals on the East Coast, and I am going to do everything I can to support Rose and her film dream.
Daniela and Rose, goofing around in a random carniceria