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LatinoBuzz Q & A: Terracino, ‘Elliot Loves’

LatinoBuzz Q & A: Terracino, 'Elliot Loves'

Elliot Loves‘ (ISA:TLA Releasing) by Gary Terracino is a true American independent, made completely outside of any system, largely self financed, crowd funded, sponsored even, you name it – by any means necessary. It’s a story that anyone from any walk of life can relate to; ultimately when love sucks, it F-in sucks. But when it’s beautiful…

‘Elliot Loves’ had distribution offers on the table by the Friday before it’s Sunday world premiere at 2012 The Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival where it would go on to win the Audience Award for Best Feature and TLA would announce worldwide rights to ‘Elliot Loves’ at Cannes. With screenings lined up across the States and Europe, this is merely the beginning of an illustrious career for Terracino. I had the pleasure (and anxiety attacks) to take the journey with Terracino. So I thought I’d catch up with him as he takes the film globally.

LatinoBuzz:Who introduced you to your earliest memory of film?

Gary Terracino:When I was four years old, my mother saw “Jaws” without taking me (and my two sisters) with her. Even at that age, I can remember being pissed at her. Well, the movie terrified her and for the rest of that summer she would not take us to the beach! Whenever we begged her she said, “But you’ll be eaten by sharks!” I distinctly recall a neighbor saying to her, “Rhina, you’re crazy! It’s only a movie. There are no sharks swimming off of Coney Island!”
So my first memory of a movie is, naturally,of one I wasn’t allowed to see!

LatinoBuzz:You are an independent filmmaker in it’s truest form, making Elliot Loves by hook and crook – what’s the most beautiful moment you took away from making the film in this manner?

Gary Terracino: My producing partner (Juan Caceres) and I had tried to make “Elliot Loves” for SIX years: companies optioned our rights — then went under (happened twice); experienced producers lectured us that “Elliot” was too complicated and too ambitious to ever happen; and various production companies dangled large budgets in front of me if only I made huge compromises — as in, shoot in LA, not New York; make it less Latino — a little more white; lose the scenes of violence with the child; make it less gay; make it gayer… On our very first day of shooting, we were shooting the scene when 11 year-old Quentin Davis Araujo (playing 9-year-old “Elliot”) is sitting in a bubble bath with a cigarette in his mouth and a turban on his head as he talks to the camera and narrates his life. Standing there, holding the cigarette and turban, I froze. I thought, “He’s never going to do this; he’ll panic and flip out.” All of a sudden, Quentin reached out from the tub, grabbed the cig and the turban from me and said, “Let’s get started. I’m ready and this water is cold!” At that moment, I knew from there on in, we’d be fine. And might I add that at 11 years old, Quentin Davis Araujo had bigger balls and greater vision than all the “experienced” producers and production companies who failed to come though for us?!

LatinoBuzz:The film that closely resembles the world you would like to live in?

Gary Terracino:I would marry “The Wizard of Oz” with “The 400 Blows.” If I were God, I would mandate that all films be made in black and white — and in French! And have one Technicolor flying sequence. That’s what my ideal world looks and sounds like.
Time Machines are on sale at Sears next to the AC’s; as a Director, If you could bring two actors together to make the perfect love story who are they? Who wrote the screenplay? What’s the plot and who’s the DP? (everyone has to be dead)
Marilyn Monroe is the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. She falls for rich, dashing Cary Grant. Her brother is a young, starving artist played by River Phoenix. He’s in love with a painter, played by Johnny Sheffield (“Boy” from the 1930’s “Tarzan” films). Their wacky and overbearing mother is played by Ruth Gordan. Marilyn’s best friend is a showgirl, played by Lucille Ball. River’s sidekick is wisecracking Eve Arden. The script is written by Francois Truffaut, Madelyn Davis and Bob Caroll, Jr. Nestor Almendros is the DP. It’s in black and white but there is one Technicolor dream sequence in which River Phoenix and Johnny Sheffield fly in the sky and speak French. The ending is sad yet uplifting. May I add that Pauline Kael comes back from the dead and gives it a rave review?

LatinoBuzz:If you were given a song to write the screenplay to; which song is it?

Gary Terracino:The day I first heard Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Under The bridge” I started to scribble notes for “Elliot Loves.” There you have it!

LatinoBuzz:  What are the most striking differences between American Latinos and Latin American filmmakers for you?

Gary Terracino: Latin American filmmakers tend to have greater resources, whereas American Latino filmmakers have to be scrappier. Latin American filmmakers, however, work with a greater scope and vision; they’re less self-absorbed and more expansive in their subject matter.

LatinoBuzz:Anything you deplore in filmmaker?

Gary Terracino:Dishonesty of any kind, on or off screen.

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