As artists working with your significant other can only go two ways: The kiss of death or the most beautiful collaboration. There really is no
in-between and nor should there be. It should ever be an “Ok” experience. If it was, there was no passion brought to your project. Oscar Torre felt
inspired by his wife Chuti Tiu’s screenplay enough to inspire her back and both took a deep breath and embarked on making it a reality. That film is
the award winning “Pretty Rosebud“. Oddly enough it’s about the difficulty that is marriage and the importance for communication and interaction.
Chuti/Oscar: Where did your love of film come from?
With me it started as a child, going to the theater and being totally transported but also walking out of the theater thinking I was the protagonist in the
film and reenacting the scenes.
E.T. I liked movies before that one, but I thank E.T. I remember being moved so deeply, laughing so hard, and crying profusely – I never knew film could
move people like that. Those are the films I love the most – the ones that deeply affect me. The ones where I feel as though I’ve been invited into a
story, not just observing it. A more recent example is El Secreto de Sus Ojos (The Secret in Their Eyes) – I cried so hard my heart hurt.
Chuti/Oscar: You are both actors, where did the idea to make a feature film come from?
The idea was all Chuti’s, I just helped giving her a little push to actually shoot it – she can tell you all about how it started better than I can.
Years ago, I started learning the craft of screenwriting in the efforts to become a better actor, understand the filmmaking process, and to create my own
acting work. “Pretty Rosebud” is one of the scripts I wrote, but it sat on the back burner for several years, until Oscar read it and said, “This is really
good. But you better get this made soon, or else you’ll be playing the Mom role instead of the lead.” That put a fire beneath my butt to get moving!
where did the story come from and what did you want to say?
There were several themes I wanted to explore with “Pretty Rosebud.” I wanted to write a story that highlighted the cultural challenges that arise between
immigrant parents and their Americanized children. One theme that we touch upon is how families keep secrets, and in doing so, things are often made worse,
miscommunications occur and people get hurt. Also, I wanted to illuminate the tensions that come from within a marriage when the wife is the main or sole
bread-winner and the husband isn’t pulling his weight; some married women in this situation have been taught to work really hard, be self-sufficient, prove
themselves and fight for equal pay only to find themselves bearing the brunt of financial and household pressure alone. Lastly, I wanted to show that there
isn’t a good or bad guy in a divorce; both parties bear responsibility, and forgiveness is key to moving on.
Was the casting collaborative between you both?
Definitely! We cast a lot of actors who we were friends with or had worked with at some point. Chuti and I had lengthy conversations of who would be best
and why for each role.
Do you want to continue directing? What stories would you like to tell?
I plan to. I am not married to any particular genre. I am more interested in projects that capture my imagination and move me in a way that I can spend a
year of my life working on it.
Did the screenplay you wrote translate on screen as you imagined it?
“Pretty Rosebud” ended up being even better than what I had initially conceived when I first wrote it. I had imagined every detail of each location, but of
course, what we ended up with was different than what I made up in my head. Somehow, making things concrete flushed things out so much more, adding layers
and complexity. For example, the marketing office that Cissy (the main character) works at is so much more interesting than what I’d envisioned. That goes
to show you how the input and creativity of every member of a film crew can elevate a project to a higher level. We were blessed to have the crew we did.
Was there a pressure to do the film justice being that your wife wrote it?
I normally don’t need any help to put pressure on myself but there was additional pressure because it was a film she always wanted to shoot and I wanted to
tell this story as best as possible. When I told her that I’d like to direct it, I had already given it a lot of thought and honestly I felt that I was the
best person for the job, plus I was cheap.
What was the fund raising process?
We financed a big part of the film through private equity and then found additional financing but it all started with us having enough faith in our film to
put some of our own money into it (something that you’re always told not to do) but it gave us the confidence to be able to ask others for money. We
weren’t asking for something that we weren’t willing to do ourselves.
What has been the most meaningful question you have been asked at a Q&A?
Actually, it a question that’s been asked several times, including in this interview, which is, “What are you trying to say?” Because all filmmakers have
something to say, and our challenge is to get the message across effectively.
We are in talks regarding the distribution of “Pretty Rosebud” across numerous platforms and are continuing our film festival run (our next one is the Asian
Film Festival of Dallas in July.) I’m continuing to write several projects, one of which I’ve co-written with Oscar. I also star in a film written and
directed by Cassie Jaye that shoots the end of the summer.
I’m starring in a film called, “The Boatman“, directed by Greg Morgan and once I wrap up with that, Chuti and I plan to star in a short film that I wrote and
will also be directing it, Man/Woman. We also have another feature film, “Lunarticking” that we co-wrote with a friend and we plan to star in it at the end
For more information at: http://prettyrosebud.com/
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