Thursday, 14 May 2015

Behind the scene of Edy Ganem's film "After The Wedding"

Claudia’s Diary

I’m a first-time filmmaker, design junkie + lover of tapas!
Follow my directorial musings here or on Twitter: @claudcifuentes

Case Study: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Here’s a great how-it-was-made case study of “Beasts of the Southern Wild” one of my fave movies from this year. It’s kinda long but definitely worth checking out.
(Via IFP)
Read More

Miracles, Hurricanes & Dreams Coming True

It’s been just a little over two weeks since we wrapped, and I still can’t believe we did it. We completed principal photography on “After the Wedding”. You have to understand, this movie had only existed in my head for two years. So to finally see it become something real, something rather tangible, is still a bit surreal to me.  And exhilarating.
I mean, what a journey it’s been so far. First, there was the Kickstarter fundraising campaign my sisters, Lisa Michelle and Karina, and I launched in May. While we receivedahhhh-mazing support from our friends, family and strangers, we still were unable to reach our high goal.
But alas, out of pure stubbornness my sisters and I decided to try again. And crazy enough, the second time we succeeded.

Lisa, Karina, and I raising money on
We actually almost didn’t make it the second time too, but at literally the 11.5th hour, a wonderful mystery man who I’ll call Mr. R, helped us get to the finish line. To be honest, I was feeling so defeated about the whole thing that just a week before, after a not-very-present romantic dinner with my sweet husband, Alex, in the West Village, I convinced him to let us have our palms read by a storefront psychic named Silvia. (That’s how desperate I was feeling!) In an effort to soothe his ball-of-nerves wife, Alex kindly submitted. (TMI: Just the day before I had ordered these.) So we had our palms read and can you believe she predicted that we wouldn’t reach our goal? Again! Now I was officially depressed.
Which is why on the last day of our Kickstarter, when it looked like we might reach our goal, I was confused. But Silvia, the storefront psychic, said we wouldn’t make it! What’s happening?! So all day friends kept saying to me, “Smile! You’re gonna make it!” But secretly I feared that a minute before the fundraising deadline, the numbers would go down, and Silvia would be right. But thank God. She was WRONG. We made our goal. And now we were going to Gulp – have to make a movie! I can’t really begin to express to you the full cocktail of emotions I was feeling, but it was something like this: 70% YES! We’re making a movie! 30% Holy shit! We have to actually make a movie now?!
But I got over the holy shit part pretty soon. When you’re busy hustling you have very little time left for worrying. So just like that a little over a month after our goal was reached, my sisters and I were in beautiful Miami Beach getting ready to make our FIRST FEATURE FILM.

Hello, Miami Beach!
Now I know that $30k sounds like a lot of money. And it is! But to make a feature length film it really isn’t. Especially for us, since our film wasn’t some guy-in-room-for-90-minutes type of film.  Last we counted we shot in 15 different locations in Miami Beach AND New York, with multiple club/bar scenes and various driving sequences – stuff is HAPPENING!
So my sisters and I decided that if we were seriously going to make THIS film on OUR budget two things would need to happen:
1) Every person would need to wear multiple hats (as in, at least 5!) during production and,
2) Every person would need to have not only great talent, but a great attitude. No room for squeaky wheels here!

Lisa hustling as Producer/2nd AD/Casting Director/Publicist

Karina as Producer, DIT Tech, Art, HMU, Wardrobe Dept and Colada Hunter.
This is when the true guerilla filmmaking began. We called our actors and explained to them that yes, the film was still happening. But that everything was being scaled back. By a lot. So for talent, this would mean doing their own hair and makeup. And wearing their own clothes. Lucky for us, each and every one of them said: HELL YES! Not only were they still interested in being a part of the film, but were excited by the challenge. So amazing and cool talent: Check!

Nick Puga getting into character as "Diego Diaz" - in his own clothes!

Edy Ganem and Kandis Erickson bringing it as "frenemies"
Next up, was finalizing the crew. It was going to be run-and-gun all the way. So our first addition to the family was Alex Martinez, executive producer/assistant director/on set film buff/Jameson provider. Oh, what would we have done without Alex?! Alex is amazing. I personally don’t think I have ever met anyone more passionate about films. Alex is an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to films. Wanna talk about the latest blockbuster? He’s seen it. Ask him about some obscure Danish film no one has seen. Well, he’s seen that too. His passion for film is so contagious that I vowed to myself to watch more good films upon my return to New York. (Working on it.) That’s the thing about hanging out with great people; they make you want to be great too.

Alex Martinez reviews the schedule.
Next up, we brought on Juan Barriga, our kid wunder. I shouldn’t really say kid because he isn’t. But his TALENT, accomplishments and demeanor far surpass his age. As a matter of fact, Juan is a pretty serious guy. That is until… he gets the giggles. See here.

DP Juan Barriga
And it was simply an added bonus that Juan insisted on bringing on Nelson Moncada, 1st Assistant Camera/Gaffer/Colada Hound. Nelson’s quiet confidence and easy going nature make him exactly the type of person you want to be working with when things get challenging, and challenging they did…

(L to R): Nelson Moncada, Nick Puga, Juan Barriga, Alex Martinez
Finally, we added Kyle Weber and Thor Trammell, the coolest sound team you could ask for. We worked some incredibly gruesome hours, in sometimes hot and uncomfortable conditions, and these guys always had the jokes. Always had great attitudes.

Nick Puga with Alex Martinez, Kyle Weber and Thor Trammell.
So we now had the perfect cast and crew. We were small (and slightly dysfunctional :) , but like any family we were strong together, and immediately cared for one another. And just like that Day 1 began. To be honest, the rest of filming is a bit of a blur. Everything happened so incredibly fast and EVERYTHING would come together at the 11.5th hour. We didn’t have a main location confirmed until 36 hours before. But we pressed on.

Special Thanks to The Dorchester Hotel for taking us in with open arms.
One of the cars we used in a driving sequence almost – hmm, how shall I put this without terrifying my parents? – blew up! But we pressed on. (Okay, it didn’t actually almost blow up. But it did catch on fire. While half of us were still in it.)

Us playing with fire, literally.
On the day we were supposed to film our big wedding scene, Hurricane Isaac decided it wanted to make a cameo in “After the Wedding”. We thought about shutting down, especially with Miami locals going into mild hysterics, but with our budget it really wasn’t an option. So again, we pressed on…

Filming right before Hurricane Isaac.
And that’s pretty much how the entire shoot would go. Hustle, hustle, shoot. Hustle, hustle, shoot. And in the end everything would somehow magically come together.

Filming a scene with Nick Puga and newcomer David Wichner

Carol Coronado makes her fantastic debut.
Well, I shouldn’t say magically. We all busted our behinds to make it happen. Every single person was overstretched. Every single person was tired. And the actors – incredible. For starters, there was Nick Puga.
I’ve known Nick since he was disrupting Ms. Villalba’s 11th grade Spanish AP class with his faux-orgasm sounds. I can’t say, that as a Daria-like 16 year old that I could completely appreciate his humor then, but I certainly can today. Nick is funny. Not just ha-ha funny. He is scary observant funny. He’s great at reading people, and within minutes he can usually have you laughing, wanting to hear more. See here.
And seeing his talent the first day I felt so lucky that he was taking on the role of “Diego Diaz”, that I worked so hard to create. He can do the funny, but can also do the more dramatic stuff too. It was really great to watch him work.

Nick Puga
Then there was Edy Ganem, who plays his wife in the film. I’ll cut right to the chase – Edy is gorgeous. She has the quality of a classic Hollywood starlet like Rita Hayworth, but she’s funny, smart and down to earth. (She could easily keep up with the guys and their dirty jokes.) She’s the perfect package. So seeing her go toe to toe with Nick was incredibly entertaining. He couldn’t have gotten a better match.

Edy Ganem with Nick Puga.
And of course, the talented and stunning, Kandis Erickson. Kandis plays “Vanessa” the sexy temptress, if you will. It can be a challenging role to play without falling into a cliche. But Kandis brought warmth to the role, and made her real. Seeing her passion and commitment towards the role was incredibly inspiring and only pushed everyone around her to up their game. All I have to say about Kandis is – Watch out, World.

Kandis Erickson

ATW Family Portrait
And that’s how we made the film. Every single one of us pushed through it, in the true spirit of independent filmmaking. At times it was a bit overwhelming, but even during the tough days everyone remained cool. That’s what happens when you like each other, and like each other we did.

The ATW Family taking a break.
So if there is anything I’ve learned from this experience (for any first-timers out there who might be reading this) it’s three things: 1) Take chances. It seems sometimes you have to take a step in a new direction almost blindly, without having everything figured out, before things can fall into place. It’s scary, but it seems to be how it works. 2) You can’t do italone. This film happened because sooooo many wonderful people (donors, our family, our amazing cast & crew) all came together for one common goal — To make “After the Wedding” a reality. And for that I am truly grateful for. And 3) Don’t ever listen to storefront psychics named Silvia.

Me, directing "After the Wedding".

Cast & Crew

Chilean-American actor/writer/producer Nick Puga was raised in Miami, FL where he studied acting at Florida International University and New World School of the Arts.  Nick’s first break came shortly after moving to Los Angeles when after a nationwide search he was cast to co-star with Christina Aguilera in a bilingual Coca-Cola ad campaign.
He then turned heads with his dramatic portrayal of Tommy in the award-winning shortEating, which premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival.  His film credits include Steven Spielberg’s The Terminal and Steven Soderburgh’s Oceans 13, and he has appeared on hit television shows such as Fox’s House and CW’s Veronica Mars.
Nick’s versatility has allowed him to be involved in a variety of projects: he garnered attention with his comedic music video PPL B TXT’N 2MUCH, which caught the eye of MTV execs and won several awards on the short film festival circuit, he lent his voice to the Adult Swim series Minoriteam, and has worked as a producer on four episodes of MTV’s Emmy Award winning series True Life.  Nick has also enjoyed success as a commercial actor; he has starred in several high profile Super Bowl ads and major national campaigns alongside the likes of Dennis Haysbert, T-Pain, Glenn Dorsey, Nick Price, Bear Grylls, Jon Lovitz and most recently Matthew Broderick in the Super Bowl commercial Matthew’s Day Off. Additionally, Nick finished work on the pilot episode of the upcoming ABC series Apartment 23 and through his production company, Popa Zuza Pictures, is currently producing and starring in an original TV pilot set to be completed this summer. His reel may be viewed at:

Edy Ganem was born in Modesto, California. She was raised in Mexico and has two younger brothers. This Mexican/Lebanese descent actress moved to Los Angeles after graduating with two degrees from the prestigious University of San Diego. Her resume includes several Independent Feature Films, TV Series, and shorts films like: “The Land of the Astronauts” with David Arquette and Vivica Fox – directed by Carl Colpaert (Drama), “The Loneliest Road in America” directed by Mardana Mayginnes (western comedy/drama), “Box of Shadows” – directed by Mauro Borrelli (Sci-Fi thriller), “The Way to Happiness” directed by Taron Lexton, “Lola’s Love Shack” directed by Patrick Perez (Comedy)
Edy’s TV series “Livin’ Loud” was in the TV Festival of Cannes and it was recently released in networks of Australia and New Zealand. In her free time, Edurne works with students from schools like AFI and NYFA and has been part of several short films including the lead roles in the AFI dramatic thesis film “Lucha”and the gothic horror film titled “Violeta.”
Edy had worked with world renowned directors like Academy Award Errol Morris and her on-camera and print resume also includes advertising campaigns for brands like: Verizon, Honda, Target, Six Flags, Flip, KFC, Skechers, Wells Fargo, Wanted by Jesse McCartney, Bacardi, McDonald’s, Budlight, Motorola, Apple, among others.
Up next, Edy will be seen in Lifetime’s Devious Maids, created by Marc Cherry, portraying the role of “Valentina Del Barrio.”
Edy has lived in San Diego, Barcelona and in several cities of Mexico. She enjoys traveling, sports, dance, photography, music, literature, food, and spending time with her family and friends. Her reel may be viewed here.

Kandis began acting in high school plays, but her passion extended beyond “The Crucible” and “How to Succeed in Business.“  Since graduating Kandis has taken her talents to TV and film.
Her TV credits include; CSI: NY, Cold Case, Criminal Minds and House. Her film credits include Mark L. Smith’s (writer of Vacancy) directorial debut, “Séance, released by Lionsgate and the yet to be released Joe Dante Produced, “Trail of Blood.“  Kandis took on the role of a girl dealing with Borderline Personality Disorder in the relationship drama “Love You More” written and directed by James Mixon.
Kandis has also found a role behind the camera as a producer. Her short films, “Redemption Song” and “Tom’s War on Terror,” garnered many awards on the festival circuit. She is currently in development on a feature screenplay she’s written and studying improv at UCB LA. She is currently repped by Greater Vision Artists (GVA) and Armada Partners in Los Angeles.
Her most recent starring role is in the indie film “I Am Not A Hipster” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. She is also starring in “Farah Goes Bang,” premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

RIC VON MAURRic Von Maur Headshot
Ric von Maur was hooked on film the moment he picked up a Super 8 camera as a boy, but it was many years later when he decided to make a career in independent filmmaking. He began writing in 2008 and completed his first independent film, “Wind Jammers,” in 2010. “Wind Jammers” is a family comedy about an American family who relocates to the Bahamas. Ric co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed the film which was shot entirely on location in the Bahamas. Ric read “After the Wedding” and fell in love with the Latin vibes, colorful characters and it’s love story. Ric continues to look for opportunities in interesting independent film projects. He is currently writing his next feature, which he hopes to film in 2013. He lives with his wife, Doreen, and their children in Nassau, Bahamas.

Claudia Cifuentes is a New York-based writer, director and producer of Guatemalan descent. A graduate of NYU’s prestigious film program, Claudia Cifuentes began her career in Los Angeles as an apprentice to acclaimed director Michael Mann, the creator behind such hits asMiami Vice and Heat.
Inspired by his auteur-style of filmmaking, she eventually moved back to New York to hone her own personal writing and directing style. She has since created numerous music videos, commercials and short-format films including Rivington Kids, a series of shorts developed through the IFP and recognized for accurately capturing the zeitgeist of twenty-somethings in New York.
Determined to continue her quest of making personal, high-integrity films for the masses, up next she will direct her first feature-length film shooting in her hometown of Miami. Filming is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012. Her work may be viewed at:

Lisa Cifuentes is a producer with a background in public relations + event planning. Her enthusiasm for art, music and storytelling are at the core of what drives her work, whether it is producing music videos, short films, art shows, or corporate initiatives.
In addition to co-owning and executive producing Pink Forest Films, Lisa also works with Bluebeard Productions where she has produced music videos for Yes Giantess and Bottle Up and Go, commercial videos for Alexandra Grecco and Malibu Rum, as well as several independent short films. Before working in film production, Lisa was a publicist at The Thomas Collective, where her clients included Chivas Regal, Wild Turkey Bourbon, the Wines of Chile and the wine portfolio of Pernod Ricard USA. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Karina Cifuentes is a writer, director and producer living in Brooklyn, New York.  Karina began her careerat the early age of 15, working in the costume department of Bad Boys II, directed by Michael Bay. This led to greater positions working in the music video and commercial industry for award-winning production companies such as Partizan (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) and Ridley Scott’s RSA Films (American Gangster) where she was inspired to begin her directing career.
In the summer of 2010, Karina directed a video lookbook for emerging designer Alexandra Grecco, which has since received nearly 20k views on Vimeo alone. More recently, she directed a live-performance series for NY based band, KNTRLR, signed to Goodnight Records. In addition to several music videos and fashion lookbooks she has lined up for this year, Karina is also currently writing, Sofia + Lucia, her first feature film about sisterhood.

ALEX MARTINEZAlex Martinez bio photo
Alex Martinez is an independent filmmaker living in Downtown Los Angeles. After graduating from the prestigious Art Center College of Design in 2003, he has gone on to produce several of the highest rated reality shows for networks such as CBS, NBC, FOX, and PBS. Some of his credits include “DEAL OR NO DEAL”, “ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A 5TH GRADER”, “JUDGE JUDY”, and the Peabody award winning “A PLACE OF OUR OWN”.  Alex is currently in post-production on “THE MENTOR”, a feature length documentary he wrote and directed about film historian and itinerant projectionist, Joe Rinaudo.

Sabrina Dridje is a Creative Producer who has recently made the move from London to New York. Previously having worked within film sales & distribution for leading sales agency Hanway Films (, Sabrina has gone on to produce and production manage an eclectic mix of creative work. Prior projects include Open City Documentary Film Festival, Alpha-Ville Festival of Digital Art  ( and a site-specific, promenade theatrical experience on advertising for love. Now based in New York, she is currently working with the Independent Filmmaker Project (  in the lead up to the annual Independent Film Week at Lincoln Center where she is part of the project selection committee and overseeing industry outreach.

Chrissy Fiorilli has extensive experience in film, television and commercials, having most recently worked on the first season of The Good Wife, and the upcoming feature film The Kitchen, starring Jena Malone.  She also cast a short film entitled Katya for Director Mako Kamitsuna, which will premiere at the 2011 Palm Springs International Shortfest.  Her other credits include the films The Men Who Stare at Goats, Did You Hear About The Morgans, The Pink Panther 2, The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2, pilots for 90210, How to Make It In America, and Suburgatory, the web series, and commercials for Apple, Verizon Fios, and Time Warner Cable.  She just joined Liz Lewis Casting Partners as a Casting Director, and lives in sunny Los Angeles.

Charlie Davis is a musician, DJ and music industry professional living in Brooklyn. His work includes past stints at major labels, indie labels, music publishers and a vinyl manufacturer. At age 15, Charlie began began his musical exploits which have included (but not limited to): Opening up for 80′s new wave 2-hit wonders Missing Persons, shaking James Brown’s hand, having a philosophical conversation with Rick James, and getting a compliment from a guy in Jane’s Addiction. At the heart of all his endeavors, Charlie believes there are fewer things more powerful and effective than the meeting-point between a perfect song and its correspondingly perfect moment in time. With this in mind, Charlie has worked in and around the sync licensing world since 2006, and continues to make people excited about songs on a daily basis.

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