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Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers #28: Youssef Delara & Michael D. Olmos, 'Filly Brown'

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire January 11, 2012 at 10:30AM

Maria Jose 'Majo' Tonorio is "Filly Brown," the star within the film of the same name.  The film takes on the music industry and its mechanic image-molding practices through the story of the central powerful protagonist.
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"Filly Brown" directors Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos
"Filly Brown" directors Youssef Delara and Michael D. Olmos

Maria Jose 'Majo' Tonorio is "Filly Brown," the star within the film of the same name.  The film takes on the music industry and its mechanic image-molding practices through the story of the central powerful protagonist.

What's it about? Filly Brown is the story of a young girl fighting to save her family, while pursuing a music career.

Says director Youssef Delara: "I'm a blue collar kid and I guess that's why I write characters who have workman sensibilities. What I love about Filly Brown the movie is Filly Brown the character's ability to keep keep pushing through obstacles with her music and her family. The best way to solve any problem... is to start. Sure, you'll get your bumps and bruises along the way but in the doing is where we can find our salvation. Filly Brown the character has that, 'Filly Brown' the movie is born from that. 

"Born in Spain to Iranian parents raised in Hollywood, go figure. I wanted to make movies because I was weird, fat and awkward and after a terrible day in junior high I could come home and cry my eyes out to a good movie. I know, I know, my wife tells me I'm a 13 year old girl when it comes to crying at the movies. :) It's cathartic, what can I say.

"Honestly, I've gotten so much already [from Sundance], and I haven't even attended. As a independent filmmaker, moving into 20 plus years of struggling to perfect my craft and push through the various obstacles we all share, it's been a blessing. This business is hard, it's demanding, it's tough to make a living let alone raise a family. So many people have sacrificed so much to help me get this far. And to know that my film will be viewed by at least audiences who love indie films and by agents and manager and producers and peers is just... a blast. Having that anticipation makes me grin like a cheshire cat even stuck in horrible traffic on the 91 heading to Orange County for my parents Iranian version of Christmas." 

Says director Michael D. Olmos: "The one thing I would say about our take on our film, is that we wanted to break convention wherever we could, and tell a universal story. Youssef did that in the very first draft of the script, it’s one of the things I liked the most about it. I was working on another script at the time that took place in Shanghai, and we were struggling with the same thing - breaking away from cultural stereotypes that had become conventional in film.

An image from "Filly Brown."
An image from "Filly Brown."

"It isn't often that you get to be on set with a group of actors, and live with them through the emotional depth and pain they’re experiencing - in the moment, while shooting a scene - whether that's on your own film or working on someone else's. It was incredible. There were moments during a take when we were crying with them; it’s a gift and I think it shows on screen. Insofar as how the audience reacts, I don't think that's something that any filmmaker can presume to control, but I hope they are moved by the story.

"I would say getting that call from Sundance was pretty mind blowing for me -- it was the only thing that came close to the news that I’m going to be a father in February of 2012."

Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.

Keep checking here every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Sundance Film Festival, Filly Brown, Meet the 2012 Sundance Filmmakers