This production was a full destination trip to the islands of Puerto Rico. With a very small crew of the producer, director, and cinematographer we had to double up the responsibility to keep this production under budget. With help from our island friends, I believed that we could do just that. All of the cast members had to be Puerto Rican of course, and we shot in the Director’s hometown of Penuelas.
The entire production was a cultural experience, and not knowing how to speak Spanish was a great challenge for me, but I left all of the Spanish speaking to the director, Eddie Alicea Gonzalez. We took the trip to Puerto Rico in September 2013; Eddie and I visited the island just to see what we could get access too. San Juan was our original location, but with all the tourism and regulation stuff, Penuelas became the better choice.
As production was taking place, the town of Penuelas showed us so much support. The school’s theater was our meeting grounds and source for talent. We did our table reads there, conducted interviews, took headshots during auditions, and so much more. The government of Penuelas blocked the streets for us and allowed us to shoot there without interference from the local traffic- it was incredible.
While on the trip, we filmed in the mountains, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, I fell and cut my right foot while I was up there. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room, so I settled for the local corner store- I took care of the cut like a champ. I lost the toenail from my big toe, but like I always say, “I’ll be fine.”
With my toe massively wrapped with bandages, we continued with the production. I became a little handicapped, but that wasn’t going to slow us down. Oh, no! The locals really helped us when they could. We had ten scenes to shoot, and it was a rough week of shooting for the three of us.
On the last day of the shooting, it happened to be the Festival del Flamboyan. It was kind of like fall during summer time. The trees leaves were turning yellow, orange, and mostly red, and it gave the town a very warm color. The sun was out and the wind was blowing cool fresh air.
While the locals celebrated the Festival, it felt like a scene from the Fast and the Furious, at the gas station plaza cars were everywhere. It was the definition of a true block party for about five blocks. The music would make your hips pop, and watching the people enjoy themselves was beautiful, but before we knew it, it was time for shots! Shots, and more shots! It was a great way to end production.
Everyone at the festival knew who we were, and we even found out people were late to work because of our shoot, but it was cool, they knew we were just filmmakers trying to show the people of Puerto Rico in their true light. The power of film.