Updated: Mar 25, 2022
We are in the final week leading up to our shoot dates for the VIVA Short Film.
It's been about 7 weeks since our first table read - our last blog post - and so much has happened since then.
Let's do a quick recap:
So we decided to add in one more step before launching into full 'fundraise for the feature' mode. We are making a short film to use as our main marketing tool to get the feature together. And the plan was to shoot it in Colombia.
On February 10th, Steve traveled to Cartagena, Colombia and met with the Colombia production company to do the location scout for the short film.
Steve had previously gone to CTG in 2019 to scout for the feature film, but much has changed since then. For the most part, Cartagena has gotten even more beautiful and a lot has been renovated.
After a few days of scouting, he was able to find the locations that resembled the dilapidated streets, alleys, and junkyards of Cuba. The Cuba most tourists never get to see.
The location deck was coming together nicely...
However, a new issue arose. The Colombian production company waited until Steve had taken his second scouting trip to Colombia to tell him the producer he had been working with for months through prep would be replacing herself with someone brand new.
Someone he had never met.
The reason she gave - they took on a "bigger, more important project".
1st red flag. 🚩
Meanwhile in NYC...
On February 21st, Arami - who plays the lead character Lorena - took advantage of a trip in NYC to make an appointment at BLOCH, the prestigious manufacturer of pointe shoes.
Although VIVA will have a professional dance double for the ballet dance number, Arami would still require her own pair for some of the wide shots.
After a three hour course on pointe shoes, ballet, different kinds of shoes and consulting with Steve and the dance choreographer, Arami chose Lorena's new pair of pointes.
Side note: Did you know pointe shoes only last about 10-20 hours of usage.
10. to. 20 hours.
We are incredibly grateful to the team at Bloch NYC for their patience and wisdom.
We can't wait to see Lorena's pretty pointe shoes on screen!
BACK TO COLOMBIA...
A few weeks upon Steve's return to Los Angeles - just a couple weeks before our scheduled shoot date - the production company in Colombia, Cumbia Films, sent him the final budget.
The budget was out of budget. 🚩
It was astronomical - more than shooting the film in the US and building full sets - which defeated the whole purpose of shooting abroad in a country like Colombia.
AND THEN...the replacement producer dropped the news that he would now be replacing himself because... he had to oversee some renovations at his vacation home!
So the replacement was now replacing himself.
This foreign production company turned out to be terrible partners. Between their massive, inflated budget and their lack of professionalism playing "pass the producer"... too many red flags were popping up. 🚩🚩🚩
In an attempt to save all of the time and money he had spent scouting Colombia, Steve connected with another Colombian-based production company who turned out to be just as bad.
They only wanted to communicate via email - refusing to get on a call.
Each response took 24-48 hrs.
With the clock ticking towards the shoot dates, this was burning through valuable time.
After about 10 days they sent a grossly inflated budget. When we asked them to explain some suspicious line items, they refused and told us to find someone else to work with.
So on March 3rd, it was time we left Colombia behind.
We started talks with producers in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic while we pivoted to make the shoot happen here in Los Angeles!
Hello Los angeles
While Steve let go of Colombia, one thing Steve was not letting go of was the shoot dates of March 26th and 27th.
Cue a new 3-week pre-production schedule to shoot the VIVA short film in Los Angeles.
Once that happened, the cost of things increased, so we decided to hire as many locals as possible to save on traveling in cast/crew.
Some blessings in disguise.
Bringing the shoot to our backyard allowed Steve to reach out to his friend and incredible producer, Chad Engle.
Chad came on board and started to help things come together in LA.
Then, without warning our original (Florida based) choreographer left the project. But again, now that we were shooting in Los Angeles, Steve was able to reach out to an incredible choreographer he had worked with in the past, Lilian Manasala. She came on board and took over as choreographer.
With her amazing talent, fresh ideas and wonderful energy, she completely redid the dance piece and took it to new heights!
A WHOLE NEW SCOUT
Steve spent hours driving around Los Angeles on location scouted and booked:
The amazing Grand Warner theatre in San Pedro for the dance number.
An amazing - and expensive - movie ranch for the alley scene. The only way to make Los Angeles look like run down Cuba.
A junkyard in Sun Valley for the junkyard scene.
Still, the budget was too high.
So on Tuesday March 15th, Steve cut the alley scene which removed nearly $15,000.00 from the budget.
A budget which we're aiming to total no more than $20k, so removing that scene was a necessary decision to make.
But after cutting the alley scene, that left a void in the story so Steve added a new opening which showed Lorena packing up to leave in her bedroom and established the world and the circumstances.
VIVA short script revision number 6 was created.
leaping for joy
On March 15th, we also found our dance double!
The incredible Camille, a professional ballerina from the Los Angeles Ballet, graciously joined the VIVA short film team.
Rehearsals with Arami, Camille, and our choreographer Leanne began just 4 days later on March 19th.
ON their FEET
On March 16th, Steve had a wonderful rehearsal with Arami and Alex Loynaz - the actor who plays Luis, Lorena's brother.
This was the first time the actors we're on their feet.
The energy of this scene is exhilarating and quite moving.
Alex Loynaz (left), Arami Malaisé (center), Steven Petersen (right)
On March 22nd, Arami and Camille went to get their costumes altered to fit their tiny bodies.
Camille (left), Arami (center), tailor Tatiana (right)
Camille (left), Arami (center)
The costumes will be ready for pick up on Thursday, March 24th.
As of today, Tuesday March 22nd, we are just 4 days away from our first shoot date.