Filmmakers, “you never have to give up.” If you are passionate about a project and know what you want, “you can always get it,” says writer, director Juan Reinoso who is about to shoot a film called The Senator’s Daughter, a politically charged short written by: Dianne St George.
Juan Reinoso has over fifteen years of filmmaking experience and believes in working on socially relevant stories. “Everything that I do has to do with the human condition,” shares Juan. Some of his past films include Down the Road, Approaching Heaven, The Vedict, Snowfall and Flowers for Norma.
To help NYCastings members learn more about filmmaking, passion and the human condition, we decided to spotlight Juan’s latest directorial mission… The Senator’s Daughter.
Here is a behind the scenes look at the film’s pre-production stage…
Q & A with Juan Reinoso, Director of The Senator’s Daughter:
Q: How did you become a part of this project?
I am always looking for new projects and one of the things that I had wanted tackle was a gay themed project. I had a friend email me about this film who said that they were looking for a director. I sent them my reel, I read the script and spoke with the writer, Dianne. The very next day, I had the job.
Q: How does this project compare to others that you have worked on?
The biggest difference is that I normally write and direct my projects. This will be the first film that I am doing that I didn’t write. Two of the three features that I have coming up I didn’t write, but this is the first one.
Also, I have a producing team and normally do it all myself. So it has been an experience working with the creators of the project. In a way, it is like working on a commercial where you have the creative people, the clients and are trying to please everyone while at the same time make sure that your vision gets worked in. You guide the process but also put your own stamp on it. You speak with everyone about what they want and then compromise to make sure your own vision gets put in there because or else it becomes a job for hire and is not creatively stimulating.
Q: So it is important for a new director to make sure that they get their vision included?
Yes, but there has to be a balance. Many times, they will go overboard. They will not realize that they have other people to answer to and they can get themselves fired because they try to control everything. You have to work together and there is a fine line. Either you could not put enough into it or you can try too hard and you wind up alienating the people that put you to work to begin with.
Q: What are some of the things you looked for in location scouting?
The most important thing is that the location serves the film. In the case of this story, we wanted to make sure that the house serves the purpose of the principle characters who live in it. It had to look senatorial. It had to look like it belongs to a political dynasty and this one did. Location scouting can be one of the most mind numbing things, but this place was close to perfect and definitely workable for our means.
Q: Any tips on how to make location scouting less mind numbing?
It is hard for it to not be mind numbing – unless you have money to hire a location scout who takes your criteria and finds places for you to see. One of the key things for limited budget projects is that you need to be able to show that you’re passionate about the project so you can get people to come on board and not have to pay money. You have to never give up. If you have a specific place you want, you can always get it. If you want a mansion, you can get it. You just have to come up with the right way to pitch it to people. The more you know, and the more you excite the people who will have to uproot their lives for however long the project is, the more they realize that they will be honored to give up their space to be a part of the project.
Q: Most unexpected part of pre-production so far?
The project has been smooth. Most of that comes from my experience beforehand plus we had so much time on this project. We had the same amount of time as you would have on a feature film so there were no hiccups. Also, it is about the people you hire around you and I have a core group of people around me that understand me and the way I work. They have experience and know how to do everything. I am fortunate because I have more than fifteen years of experience and connections that allow projects to happen for virtually no money, or a lot less than it should. It goes back to passion… especially for those starting out with less experience. You have to have a lot of passion and then surround yourself with people who have more experience than you. That will make things go smoother.
Q: What obstacles do you anticipate, if any, in the upcoming shoot and how do you plan to overcome them?
I already have the whole film edited in my head. Part of the thing with projects I choose is that I have to love the script. If I am passionate about it, then in my brain, I automatically see everything visually. I sit down and write the shooting scripts because I know the core shots and everything that I want. Then, I discuss it with the cinematographers and producer so they all help me get what I need. And when they day comes, I like to be in the moment and take it organically. The plan can adjust but we have already anticipated 95% of the challenges that may come up. Being prepared allows you to come up with more creative options in the moment. The less prepared you are, the less opportunities you have to make creative options or else it will all fall apart on you. This goes back to getting the best, experienced crew around you as possible.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about the shoot this coming weekend?
What I am most excited about is the opportunity to tell this story. One of the challenges for me is that the script had an element that I felt was too heavy handed. I made changes on this portion because I wanted to make it more universal. When it comes to gay rights, one of the problems is that people are ignorant. And. because people are so extreme about the topic, I wanted to make this film open eyes. I want everyone, gay or straight, to really come away from watching this film with more understanding. I am hoping that some person who may be “morally” against gays, will see the film and understand a little more. I hope they will find themselves a little more accepting. For me, I am excited to tackle that challenge. I am kind of a kid in a candy store as soon as we show up on set. It is my favorite place to be. I just love making films.
For more information on Juan Reinoso check out his IMDB page…
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