Ernesto’s back to write about his new film SUNSET STORIES, which will have its World Premiere at SXSW on Saturday. The film’s executive produced by our own Justin Lin (with Sung Kang starring) and the first feature to go out under our YOMYOMF Films banner. Ernesto will be sharing his journey with the film on a regular basis.
From my previous and only entry, I had this grand plan of blogging on the experience of making micro-budget films, going into detail using my first feature SUNSET STORIES as an example and chronicling our long journey up to our premiere – then the realities of micro-budget reared its ugly head and set in.
In a matter of about two weeks we had to finish the picture edit, re-write, re-record and edit in the voice over, prepare titles and title animation, have a new score composed, color correct the picture, edit the music sound, sound mix and finally playback to our screening tape. This doesn’t even mention the publicity and promotions materials and logistics of making the festival screening happen. I won’t bore you with those details. In all, it was a Herculean task, to say the least, especially with what little budget we had left.
Again, we were scrambling, begging, pleading and promising our first born to anyone that would help us. And as of yesterday, everything is finished. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve experienced in my whole life, and the only thing running in my head, over and over again: I WILL NEVER EVER DO THIS SHIT AGAIN.
The pain of making a film is what I imagine giving birth would be (and if I’m wrong or way off base I deeply apologize to all the mothers out there – it’s a loose analogy). But once again, many, many people dived right in to help us make it to the finish line.
Then while watching our playback to tape, it hit me why it was all worth it. These small personal micro-budget films are essential for us to exist on the screen. There was a great article from the writer of Spike Lee’s REDHOOK, James McBride, eloquently pointed out in an open letter:
“Nothing in this world happens unless white folks says it happens.”
With SUNSET STORIES we were able to create a film with diverse characters in a narrative where we have power and agency. It is a fairy tale where marginalized characters can be anyone they want, even the princess and the prince. Micro-budget films allow us to make the shift where we no longer have to serve a purpose as “people of color.” We don’t have to explain our existence and we can just be who we are – living, breathing, three-dimensional people who are part of society. Okay, off the soapbox.
I’m packing the car and heading off to Austin and I’ll continue to blog on the road. Hopefully, I will be able to include Q&As with actors and filmmakers who can share their war stories while making micro-budget films. I’ll also update everyone about the premiere of the film in SXSW so stay tuned because it’s only two days away!