Award-Winning Short 'Sing (to me)' Gives a Powerful Voice to Outcasts & People With Disabilities | Hype | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

Award-Winning Short ‘Sing (to me)’ Gives a Powerful Voice to Outcasts & People With Disabilities

Interviewed by:
Francesca Escarraga
Interview date:
March 2022
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Can you tell us more about Charlie’s unique personality? What do you love most about this character?

Charlie is a character who perhaps has more love to give than the world “allows” him to. He has a deep-rooted insecurity about his singing condition that impacts how he exists in this world, and what I love most about him is his real assertiveness and desire to make things better for himself, despite his environment continuously shunning away such progress. I love that he never gives up, and I love his hope for a silver lining out there somewhere. He doesn’t quit, even when that appears to be the easiest – and really most obvious – choice to make.

What was the collaboration process like with your film crew? How did you manage to successfully complete the film in the midst of a pandemic?

Working with my film crew was nothing short of amazing. I’ve been so so lucky to have the crew I’ve had thus far in my filmmaking career. Everyone’s so passionate about film and the art of making movies that I couldn’t help but feel inspired every time I set foot on the set. No one was there to make money. It’s a micro low-budget short film, for goodness sake, so it’s either you really love this stuff or you wouldn’t be on set.

The real reason we were able to complete this film in the midst of a pandemic was the priceless, incredible work of my producers, Patricia Bautista, Sooean Chin and Francesca Escarraga. From the start, they’ve made this whole film possible, and their organizational skills, ability to communicate with everyone and passion for getting this story on screen were the most vital components in bringing this film across the finish line.

There’s a famous saying in Hollywood that directing is 90% casting. What was the dynamic like between you and your actors? What was the casting process like?

The dynamic with the actors was incredible. I echo much of the sentiments I said in the previous question about my crew. No one was there to make a buck. They were all there to tell this story, showcase their abilities and really do what they’re passionate about doing: act. I’m in awe of actors, period, and the work the actors do here is sensational.

I found all the actors except Rafael through Backstage! Shoutout Backstage! One of my favorite parts about filmmaking is the audition process. There’s nothing like seeing your lines said by talented actors for the first time. That’s always the first time any of it actually feels real. It’s like “shit, this movie is actually happening.

Were there circumstances in which you had to make difficult artistic choices or alter scenes/storylines?

Kind of what I said earlier, I believe that filmmaking – at least on my level and higher level indie filmmaking – is a compromise. What I mean is that nothing will ever actually match your exact vision when you show up, and everything is 3-dimensional. And you’re dealing with human beings. And egos. And labor laws. And morale. And stamina. Oh, and hungry bellies.

So while the film ended up being pretty damn close to my original vision and I’d change absolutely zero about it, there’s no doubt that there are things here and there that we tinkered with or reconfigured to fit what naturally occurs, such as the light peeping through the window, the sun on the wrong side of the wall, lack of time to shoot all the scene for the day, etc.

As the director, you just have to make it work by doing one thing and one thing only: never lose the souls of the film. Once you hold on tight to what the film actually is, like what it really is, compromising ends up not being a hindrance, but rather a good challenge.

After I finished the first few cuts, I definitely got feedback that the film felt too fast, hence me moving it from 17 minutes to 20 minutes. And damn were they right.

Which films and filmmakers have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

My favorite films of all-time include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Roma, Punch-Drunk Love, Up in the Air, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Synecdoche New York, There Will Be Blood, Do The Right Thing, The Social Network, Parasite, Inside Llewyn Davis and many, many others. These films drive me to keep making films and keep telling stories that get my blood pumping. I’ve seen each of these masterpieces multiple times and they never fail to inspire me.

My favorite filmmaker of all-time is Paul Thomas Anderson. Each of his films mean something special to me, and his writing and directing style along with his filmmaking process are things I study obsessively every single day. In fact, before I go to make a film, I tend to watch at least most of his films to keep my directing tool sharp.

Other favorites include Alfonso Cuarón, the Coen Brothers, Charlie Kaufman, Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Chloe Zhao, Stanley Kubrick, Jason Reitman, Steven Spielberg and yes, many, many, many more.

How did film festivals, filmmaking competitions, fellowships, etc. play a role in your career?

They play a big part! Festivals and these competitions give me an opportunity to showcase my voice, any discernible talent I might have and give a platform to the entire cast & crew who want to give exposure to their own respective talents as well! They also give me a chance to share these stories that I’m really passionate about.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.

Damaged City Festival 2019 | Photos | LIVING LIFE FEARLESS

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