The Golden Ram will be screening at the Straight Jacket Guerrilla Film Festival
*How did you get into making films?
It all started when I was fifteen years old and my brother gave me his Super-8 film camera that he no longer wanted. Having been obsessed with movies since the age of eight and watching them on TV until 2 am, even on a school day, I had always wanted to make films as an actor, screenwriter, producer and/or director. Once I actually had a camera in my hands—even just an old silent Super-8 camera—I was on my way to becoming a filmmaker...
*What inspired you to make your movie?
After ten years of struggling to try to get into the film business—ten totally unsuccessful years of horrible frustration, heartaches, humiliation, pent-up rage, miserable little jobs, border-line poverty, loneliness, despair and severe depression—I knew I had to do something to get myself out of that long dark tunnel and was desperately trying to find out what to do.
From my profound depressive state I woke up one morning and realized that my grandfather, who had died not too long ago, had come to me in a dream that night. He very simply told me: “Look into the old home movies and family pictures, you’ll find your answer there…”
I immediately took this dream to be a sign and proceeded to go through all the home movies I had shot in Super 8 since my brother gave me his Super 8 camera and some of the 16mm films that my grandfather had shot in the 1950s while he lived in Cuba until Castro came to power and he and his family were forced into exile and found themselves in Martinique. My grandparents had lived in Cuba since 1928 and had amassed a huge amount of personal photographs and some 16mm color reversal home movies that my mother had preciously kept throughout the years.
Going through all of these family films and photographs, I realized what my deceased grandfather meant in that dream: there was a film to be made here. A very personal film using my family and relatives and perhaps also a very meaningful film for me since movies had been my entire life.
I chose the best of these family films and photographs and decided to write a story around them. Due to the quality factor – the scratches, the dust, overexposures, torn sprockets – I decided to use the footage and pictures as visual fragments during flashback sequences. Films and photographs were chosen for their exotic locations such as Cuba, parts of France and Spain, the Sahara Desert, Mali, the Ivory Coast and Devil’s Island in French Guiana. These selected stills and footage lent themselves to an adventure mystery kind of story and helped determine the genre of the film: it had to be a Detective Film.
The Detective Film had always been my favorite kind of films (with adventure and comedy movies) and was such a universally well-known genre that it immediately came to my mind to use. Financially forced into being an independent no-budget filmmaker, I knew I had to make the story fit the Detective B-genre with the same B-style cheap production values.
*How has your style evolved?
My style now has veered more toward the experimental side of filmmaking. I like films that leave a good amount of information out so the audience can figure out what happened and create their own meaning from the film. A little mystery is always nice.
*Tell us any strange or funny stories while making the film?
-When I arrived in Martinique in the French West Indies to shoot the beginning sequence, the airport customs agent did not accept my officially stamped papers from the US Customs Office and confiscated all of the camera equipment. I spent two nights pacing in my hotel room having the first of many future nervous breakdowns. After two days and a couple of hundred dollars paid to a customs broker who got the equipment out of the airport, the shoot finally started and finished on time.
-At the start of a foot chase sequence on the Queensboro Bridge in Manhattan, playing the main detective character chasing someone, I snapped my hamstring in the back of my right leg and was in agony and limping, so I had to put it into the scene and have the character limp from then on.
-One my actors couldn't remember one single line of his dialogue. I had to feed all of his lines to him from off-screen and later cut out my voice during sound editing.
-By the middle of the project and still without any funding from anyone, I decided to go heavily into debt to get this film finished. So I followed Francis Ford Coppola’s advice I had read somewhere: “Start shooting and the money will come.” And he was right: more pre-approved credit cards came in the mail and gave me the financial opportunity to borrow way over my head on a total of fourteen credit cards: that's the American Way!
*The Misrule Film Movement & Pink8 manifesto bring what to mind?
Energy, Anger, Rebellion, Kreativity & Kaos (yes, both words with a "K"). Life as it really is in your face and life as it should be in their faces! It's the revenge of the hypersensitive marginalized true few artists against the establishment. We got to stick it to the Man (whomever "The Man" is in your cases...)
*What can we expect from your next film?
More Energy, Anger, Rebellion, Kreativity & Kaos!!!