First to announce one great thing that’s happened – we were awarded the PANAVISION NEW FILMMAKER GRANT! It’s a great boost to work with such an amazing organization. We are going to shoot the picture on the Genesis, Panavision’s premiere digital camera. For those in the know, of course we’ve considered going for the RED, but it’s hard to beat the stability and support of Panavision equipment.
Now we are in the last couple of weeks before the shoot. It’s been a very busy last month of pre-production. We are making a short film but there are a lot of logistical issues that come up just the same as if we were shooting a feature. We are making a period piece on a limited budget and have to be really precise with what we want to do so that the film turns out great. Everything in a historical film costs money – the horses, the donkeys, the wranglers, the wagons, the locations, the numerous props, the costumes, the signs that need to be made. It’s a big undertaking and we’ve been having to deal with the additional challenge of several other westerns being shot in New Mexico at this time, including the $250 million gorilla, Johnny Depp’s “The Lone Ranger”, which has sucked up most of the resources. It’s unbelievable how much that film costs, especially as it’s a western. It feels like most of the New Mexico film community is working on that picture as we’ve been having real difficulties getting the right folks to come on board. But slowly and surely our team is coming together with great and resourceful individuals. Through much research, we are figuring out better deals and booking what we need to stay within the budget and make a great picture.
One other major challenge has been to figure out how to portray pueblo life, especially as the pueblos don’t really look the way they used to a 100 years ago and the few that do are really hard to shoot at (due to religious and practical restrictions). Doing massive CGI would be a solution but that costs tremendously so we need to figure out clever ways of recreating the atmosphere with a mix of locations and well-designed VFX shots.
We are also well underway in our casting process. It’s been a real challenge to find the right actor to play Solomon, but I dare say we succeeded splendidly. Watch out for an announcement soon! We can’t be happier with our choice. We’ve also found a great Juana and Martin Valle and have excellent candidates for other featured roles. We will bring a few key people from Los Angeles but the rest of the cast will be local to New Mexico. This is of course also a serious budget consideration – who and what should travel from Los Angeles and what can be get where we’ll be shooting. It’d be amazing to be shooting this project as a feature film with a multi-million dollar cushion but it feels right to be having these challenges now. This is the time to truly cut our teeth and do this smaller job really well. And hopefully the right people will notice Such are the dreams of many a filmmaker.
The shoot is planned for the end of June. So wish us luck! And if you’re in New Mexico around that time – get your parasol and come by to say hello to this new piece of Jewish Western history in the making.