La Americanita won Two Best Short Film Awards, semifinalist $10,000 Angelus Award. Feature script is two-time semifinalist for Sundance Institute and selected for NALIP Producer's Academy.
 

1) Will the feature length La Americanita be the same as the short?

2) Why did you choose to do a film about Cuban-Americans?

3) What are your cinematic influences?

4) Why did you choose to shoot your film in Miami, Florida?

5) What was the shoot like?










































































































1) Will the feature length La Americanita be the same as the short?

There will be several important differences between feature and short. Among other things, the main characters will no longer be cousins, they will be half-sisters.

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2) Why did you choose to do a film about Cuban-Americans?

My stepfather and his relatives are Cuban-American and they've all been a huge part of my life since I was less than a year old. Iím also married to a Cuban-American and I speak and write fluent Spanish.

However, as a red-haired Anglo who speaks Spanish with an accent, I've never truly been considered part of the Cuban-American community.

Consequently, I'm fascinated with issues of belonging, language, race, appearance, and how a person's cultural identity is formed -- all themes of great importance to the story in my film, La Americanita (The American Girl).

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3) What are your cinematic influences as a filmmaker?

Films that try to capture reality as closely as possible and sometimes blend documentary footage with narrative, like Alfonso Cuaron's Y Tu Mama Tambien, Peter Sollett's Raising Victor Vargas, Ken Loach's Family Life, Tomas Gutierrez Alea's Memories of Underdevelopment, Agnes Varda's Vagabonde and Jim McKay's Our Song.

During the shoot, I asked my cinematographer, Doug Glover, to roll camera between takes, to capture the beautiful little impromptu moments when the actors were just relaxing and being themselve. I later included many of those moments in key sections of my short film.

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4) Why did you choose to shoot your film in Miami, Florida?

For budgetary reasons, I originally wanted to shoot my film in San Francisco, which was where I lived at the time.

However, there isn't enough of a Cuban community there for my film to have felt authentic.

Plus, it was the Miami-ness of the story that resonated with me. Having lived for many years in that city, I knew from firsthand experience what it was like to be trapped in one of those sunny, suburban homes, forced to listen to endless stories about Cuba, a country I'd never known or visited.

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5) What was the shoot like?

It was wonderful because everyone worked really hard and was really professional. But it was also awful because I had such a small crew -- which meant that I had to produce, direct, art direct and cater the film myself.

The other thing that made the shoot tough was the fact that I had to live with my 5 crew members in the house I'd gotten to shoot the film in, which happened to be completely unfurnished when we first arrived.

We only had one car, no telephone or internet connection and we were miles away from any stores.
Still everyone was a really good sport and helped out a lot. My gaffer cooked dinner for us almost every evening, my actor/sister-in-law helped me pick out all of the actors' wardrobe and my DP helped me shop for furniture and props. But they probably couldn't help feeling a little disappointed.

I think they thought they were going on a trip to the beach in sunny Florida and instead they found themselves stuck in the far, far reaches of the Miami suburban wasteland!

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