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LatinoBuzz: Miami International Film Festival

LatinoBuzz: Miami International Film Festival


LatinoBuzz: This is your first film – they say that
sometimes you have been waiting your whole life to tell the first one – Was
that the case with this story?

Analeine Cal Y Mayor: Not with
this story. I had never heard about this disease until 2006 in the first place.
I was waiting indeed for a long time to direct my first feature. I felt I was
ready and I enjoyed working with actors very much but the story was not waiting
in a drawer for years fortunately. I saw the article in the newspaper and I
immediately knew I wanted to do a film based on that news. It was a beautiful
girl with this terrible disease, Trimethylaminuria, terrible more because of
what it causes emotionally and psychologically to the persons not so much the
physical part. I wanted to turn this drama into a comedy, otherwise I would do
a documentary.


LatinoBuzz: Was it always an intention when you were
writing the screenplay, that this would be in English?

Analeine Cal Y Mayor: Actually it was not the intention at all. I wrote it in Spanish with another screenwriter (Javier Gullón) thinking it would be shot in Spanish.  But I always imagined a North American neighborhood where Mica, the main character, lives. Partly inspired by Elvis´
Graceland, he lives in a museum house of Mexican kitsch singer Guillermo
Garibai but we don´t have those museums in Spain or Mexico.  We started even casting Spanish actors but
suddenly it didn´t make sense where they lived. 
Somehow it didn’t fit that the actor was saying “joder” and other
Spanish slang with this setting. Also the singer was supposedly very famous so
I wanted it to be outside Mexico, he was an International singer after
all.  Now that I see the film it seems naturally suited for English language and the good news is that nobody that read it after it was translated suspected it was first in Spanish. Then my
Canadian producer Niv Fichman told me “ You need to meet this actor, Douglas
Smith, he is perfect for ‘Mica’”. So I waited for the occasion for several
months and finally one evening in Toronto we met after a screening and walking
towards him was really like a film , I still remember crossing to the other
side of the theater like in slow motion and when I saw him I knew it was going
to work. I don´t know who was more nervous but he stepped on my foot. Zöe
Kravitz came later. I didn´t write thinking of any actor in particular. I
wanted someone that was attractive but that could stand out in other ways.  There´s always in Hollywood like 4 or 5 actresses that I confuse because they don´t really stand out.  She had to have a personality that you
believed she fell in love with someone like him, and also a beautiful women
that in the story is relaxed about her looks. She is an amazing actress and has
something unique that I can´t really put in words. She is just a natural.

LatinoBuzz: You’ve worked on projects across the globe –
has it changed the way you look at art?

Analeine Cal Y Mayor: After making video art in Innbruck, Austria and then getting a grant in almost the opposite city: New Delhi, I changed the way of working and also I
try to get rid of clichés about expecting some art based on the artist´s
Nationality. I learned to see more, I guess. I write a project back home but
then when I get to a place I take my time to observe. I forbid myself to take
photographs the first week and after a week I decide how to adapt my project or
throw it away and start from scratch. Also after traveling I know that people
expect a type of film again depending of your Nationality but that is a
prejudice. Some people are going to say my film is not very Mexican or very
Latin but that is if they are referring to a cliché of the “Mexicanity”. What
does a film needs to have a Mexican flavor? Cactus, drug lords?  Well, I have some mariachi music after all
but because my characters live in a house of a Mexican singer.  It ´s all part of the same world.

LatinoBuzz: There’s amazing women
filmmakers coming out of Latin America that’s bringing an excitement and an
invigorating voice that’s been missing – do you see this continuing to emerge
or is there still much needed change needed within the industry?

AnaIeine Cal Y Mayor: I’m optimistic of the emerging women directors. Every year I see a
little bit more coming up slowly. In Mexico at least, the industry is still a
man´s world. It’s funny how some crew members can´t say “Yes, Mam” they say
“Yes sir “ all the time! And they do it without thinking. I´m “Sir” in Mexico a
lot of times. I admire Claudia Llosa and in Mexico, Paula Markovich, Mariana
Chenillo and Patricia Arriaga.

LatinoBuzz: What’s next
from you?

Analeine Cal Y Mayor: I’m working on a new script that has to happen in an isolated
forest, perhaps Sweden or Finland but while that film takes shape I might spend
all my savings to do a very, very low budget film. This is one thing that I
still enjoy in Mexico: my colleagues make films with 20 million pesos, 2
million or $200,000.

Visit for more on this great talent!



LatinoBuzz: What was the first
horror film that scared the bejeezus out of you and got you hooked?

A.D. Calvo: Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead

Back in ’79, shortly after my father died, my mom moved
us into an old white house on a hill with an historic New England cemetery in
the backyard. My bedroom window overlooked the tiny lot riddled with crooked,
broken headstones. I can still remember the name on one of them, Alexander X. Weed, and my morbid
fascination with the babies’ graves that had shifted in the ground over the
years, revealing dark crevices into the earth around them.

We didn’t have cable back then, so I’d occasionally catch
a scary movie on channel 9 or 11, our local NY affiliates. This film really
scared the crap out of me. The thought of the dead rising from their graves
kept me awake half the night. I was only 11 at the time, and I’m sure the death
of my father — and that damn cemetery – didn’t help. I checked that film out recently, and it was rather
comical, deliberately campy. But man, oh, man, it wasn’t back then. Orville was a living corpse who haunted me on many nights.

LatinoBuzz: How do you see your work
evolving within the horror genre?

A.D. Calvo: Honestly, I’m not a big fan of violence in film and have
consistently focused more on the psychological aspects of horror. In my more
recent films, particularly The Midnight Game, I’ve tried to “amp up” certain graphic elements —
but my style is still a far cry from anything close to gore porn or slasher,
which are just not my thing.

I love a great ghost story and would love to revisit that
world with a more mature approach one day. I think of horror classics like The Shining as benchmarks for
what’s possible within that realm. It all comes down to finding the right
screenplay or writing something that I feel really works. After four films,
three of which were skewed more toward young-adult horror, I’m looking to shift
into more mature themes.

LatinoBuzz: With the likes of Guillermo Del Toro and Fede Alvarez etc and even a film like, Mama – crossing
over to the mainstream, do you see a possible gateway for films to be made
starring a Latino cast and marketed successfully to an American Latino

A.D. Calvo: Yes,
I do. I’ve always loved Latin horror films like The Devil’s Backboneand The
, and even cerebral sci-fi like Timecrimes. I like the weird ones too, e.g., Santa SangreThe Last Circus. There’s just so many amazing Latino actors and
directors, many who haven’t been exposed much to US audiences. The Argentine
actor, Ricardo Darin, is a personal favorite, but lesser known here in the
states, despite the Oscar win for The Secret in their Eyes. He’d be great in an American Latino ghost story! Something gothic like The Others, don’t you think? Perhaps a nice mix of foreign Latino names, like Darin, and some better known domestic faces (Oscar Isaac, John Leguizamo, Rosario Dawson
— a few more personal favs). It’s fun to think of the possibilities.

LatinoBuzz: You take a trip to a cabin in the middle of the woods straight outta Deliverance with 4 characters from Horror films and there’s no cell phone reception — because, despite all previous warnings, it’s still a great idea — Who are they and who’s out in the woods (Dick Cheney is a perfectly acceptable answer)?

A.D. Calvo: I love this question! Here’s my dream team: I’d take a Ripley-like character
(from Alien)—someone who’s capable of kicking ass and protecting the bunch; and
I’d throw in a weak male sidekick, to provide a little comic relief—the
quirky Shaggy of the bunch.
My cabin wouldn’t be complete without a wise old man, physically inferior but
intellectually a necessity to the group’s survival (I’m picturing Michael Caine
type wisdom and self assurance here)… Then, lastly, I’d toss in another woman,
but a sensitive type—someone who understands that even evil can have a good
side. A character like the one Naomi Watts played in The Ring. She’ll help offset Ripley’s take-no-prisoners attitude,
BUT will make the crucial mistake of sparing the lives of a few of our
villains, who are none other than a mutant militia controlled by their own evil
inbred children. (Militias really scare me. As do evil children.) Not sure what my chances of survival would be, but it
would make for an interesting movie!

LatinoBuzz: Where and how do the
ideas come to you? And how do you flesh them out?

A.D. Calvo: My
creative process can be summed up as follows: left brain, right brain. On the
one hand, I think about other films I’ve responded to and try to create an
amalgam, of sorts, from that. Something fresh and new, but that still feels
familiar and is producible within
a set of constraints. This is the logical, left brain half of the process. On
the other hand, I remain open to the infinite possibilities that unfold before
us, in a more mystical and romantic way (the “creative tap” we all
have access to). I have found this balance serves me well. Being true to my
vision, creatively and aesthetically, while listening to, but not being bound
by, the business side of things. 

In terms of fleshing out ideas, I have a great set of
“go to” people whose opinions I really trust. As with any
collaborative endeavor, it’s important to keep folks involved (and hence
excited about the project). Of course, it’s also important to separate
individual tastes and personal opinions from more important ideas that can make
a project better (and not just different). When you hear that a particular
thing isn’t working, from a couple of trusted sources, you know you have a
problem. Likewise if one’s suggestion is well received by others on your team
then it’s probably worth pursuing, despite any hesitation you may have. I
believe you can do this without compromising the so-called, “singular
vision of the director.” I’ve heard of film directors referred to as
“benign dictators” but the key word here is “benign” and
not “dictator.” Filmmaking is a collaborative medium
so you’re acting more like a creative CEO, you still have a boardroom of key
folks to listen to. It’s really just a matter of building the right team and
becoming calibrated enough to recognize the things that raise the bar versus
the things that don’t really matter. That’s the core of it, I think. That, and
not letting your ego get in the way of that, is key. 

LatinoBuzz: What are the next

A.D Calvo: I
just finished another screenplay, my first in 2 years. It’s definitely a
deviation from horror. It’s a character-driven mystery with a little magical
realism thrown in. American
and Ghost World meetThe Lovely Bones. Very different for me. I’ve also been developing an original time travel
concept. Sci-fi is a genre I’ve always enjoyed and I have a unique idea for a
time machine that’s fairly well grounded in physics… I have a few other concepts in various stages of

Any of these projects could be next, but we’ll have to
wait and see. Having the wherewithal to push another film through to the end is
becoming a greater challenge, psychically, for me. Knowing the pitfalls and
what is and isn’t possible, given a budget, can become a hindrance of sorts,
but it can also make you more discerning and creative—which is a good thing… as
long as it doesn’t cripple you.

For more on A.D.’s work, check out:



LatinoBuzz: Tell us about the scene in the 305 — there’s a few
collectives down there doing really interesting things.

Jokes: The 305 is my home, and
there’s nothing like it anywhere in the world, the mix of cultures, styles,
personalities and weather is a stew with a flavor all its own. In the last few years
the arts has really been gaining momentum and there’s talent that is staying and making
stuff here which is great. I love seeing Miami artists I grew up with getting their respect.
Miami has made its mark in music, sports and visual art and I’m happy that it’s finally
starting to get an identity in film.

Where did this idea come from and how long from when you wrote this, did it go into

Jokes: The idea was conceived
around 2003/2004, I was living in L.A. and directing music videos flying to all
these different cities and I noticed how people would tell me I had an accent and style that
they couldn’t put a finger on. When I would say “Miami” they would say of course, it’s
obvious. So the first seed of making a feature with characters that were
authentically Miami came to mind in the way New York filmmakers tell New York
stories and wanting to make a movie that addressed a lot of the attitudes that
I thought were prevalent in the 305, especially about hustlers with strong
ethics and loyalty that were gaming the system. The final ingredient
was meeting a few tow truck drivers and it inspired using that as a thread to tie
everything together. In early 2007, J.Bishop, my writing partner and I finished
the script and I started looking for financing. In 2009, we created a short
film ‘Vladimir’s Vodka’ that features some of the characters and the aesthetics
of “EENIE MEENIE MINEY MOE”. That piece created the momentum we needed and we
finally went into production in late 2011.

Who are the filmmakers that inspired the aesthetic of your work?

Jokes: I would say for this
film i was really inspired by the work of Brian DePalma, Paul Thomas Anderson, Darren
Aronofsky and a few little sprinkles of Kubrick, Scorsese and James Cameron. I mean all
these guys are like titans in the industry its hard to make a movie and not be influenced by their
work. Overall, I’ve been a film buff for years and there’s so many influences that
contribute to my aesthetic choices.


What does premiering in your home town mean to you?

Jokes: I couldn’t imagine it
any better way. I made this movie because of growing up in Miami and being able to share
it with so many of my friends and family is what its all about.

What are the constraints of making independent films in Miami?

Jokes: The biggest constraint
is finding money, Miami is a party town and not too many investors have done
anything in the movie business and actually not been burned by it, the second is the
weather being outdoors in the summer is hot and wet two things that’ll put a production in
slow motion.


And what are the benefits?

Jokes: Locations and finding
people that are still mesmerized by the allure of the movie biz. In LA it’s big business
and people are jaded and want their check, here so many people are just so helpful and
proud that their block or business is being shown that they bend over backwards to
accommodate you.

Name a classic novel you could make into a film, and set it in Miami — what is
it and who is in it?

Jokes: ‘The Count of Monte
Cristo’: I can see that being re-imagined into a Miami setting and I am definitely drawn
into the revenge plot. I would love to use Benecio Del Toro, Julio Mechoso and Nestor
Carbonell and some fresh new faces. I like discoveries.


What’s the next Jokes Flick?

Jokes: The next one is titled
‘The Local Crew’, it’s a true to life story about some of the experiences J.Bishop
and I had growing up. We just finished the script and are building the team to produce it.

For more on Jokes
flick, visit:





You wrote the screenplay along with
Billy Sommer from an idea Max Maulion and Andres Oliveira came up with.

Manolo Celi: Yep! Billy Sommer was
the genius writer. There was a lot of back and forth between us via phone and
many many Skype sessions, but the best stuff was written by Billy who is a
truly gifted writer. Andres and Maxx had written an initial 1st draft and they
created the iconic character of Tony Tango, and what started to be a doctoring
of the script, ended up being a complete transplant. Everything changed except
for some character names and that there is a dance competition, but even the
main characters were re-written completely anew.

LatinoBuzz: How was this presented to you in the first place?

Manolo Celi: Andres and I had worked on some commercial
projects previously, and we really hit it off. They gave me that 1st draft, and
while I knew the script needed work, I really related to the character of Tony
who was a real underdog. I also found both Andres and Maxx to be very talented
and driven to get the film done.

LatinoBuzz: How did pitching a story about an overweight tango
dancer in ill fitting ballroom outfits to investors go?

Manolo Celi: All of the investments came from Andres and Maxx
sources. They dealt with the financing 100%

LatinoBuzz: What about the casting process? These
characters where very specific.

Manolo Celi: We were lucky that the two main characters, Tony
and Pablo were already being played by Maxx and Andres. And then, we were so
fortunate to find tremendous talent like Antoni Corone and Sergia Louise
Andersen to complete the picture – not to mention the rest of the cast who were
all truly amazing. My main concern was working with the cast to get as genuine
performances as possible. While their characters are very absurd and quirky,
the audience needed to relate to all of them and sympathize with them.

LatinoBuzz: A lot of care went into the detail in
making the film – the costumes, the choreography and the tone of the humor was
very specific. How did you go about getting the right team with budget

Manolo Celi: What can I say about the crew? What great luck!!
Many of them, I had already worked with or had known for a very long time. DoP
Angel Barroeta is an incredible DP and professional, not to mention a beautiful
human being. Tom Criswell is hilarious and somehow made the art department work
with barely any resources, Li Millian, the wardrobe stylist created Tony’s most
memorable clothing, hands down, Jonathan David Kane made the day to day run so
smoothly, Alan Ramos found us the absolute best locations we could find within
the limits of our budget, Jerry Perez and Christine Lopez not only acted great
throughout the movie, but they also donated so much time beforehand
choreographing Maxx’s dance routines, Obi Reyes did a miraculous job with all
of the film’s make up needs, Carlos Gomez was superstar Gaffer. Both AD’s De la
Vega and Rafa Herrera ran the set so smoothly, and they kept the energy alive
and the production going. And, on the post side even, it was amazing: Juan
Pablo Mantilla, the music producer composed an amazing score, and also produced
so many great pieces for the film, and Bob Curreri was an incredible
colorist. I mean, really, everyone put in so much time and love into the
project for next to no money or for no money whatsoever. I hope to work with
every single one of these people again, for the rest of my career.

LatinoBuzz: And how much was specifically your vision?

Manolo Celi: It really was a wonderful collaborative process
by everyone involved. Obviously, as director, it is important to have a clear
vision, and keep everyone on the same track. Especially in a low budget
production like this, there are always situations that crop up that force you
to think on your feet and be very receptive to suggestions from your team. I
believe a good deal of the film reflects my vision, with compromises due to the
resources available and not having final cut of the film, but there are many
things that reflect the direction that we had aimed for. 

LatinoBuzz: You
guys applied this green initiative to shooting the film in Miami – and here
people are, thinking filmmakers are heartless brutes — where in the
process was that decision  made?

Manolo Celi: We all
tend to be very environmentally conscious as individuals, but it was Jonathan
David Kane who really pushed the green initiative. He was really who got that
ball rolling and was very disciplined about it.

LatinoBuzz: What’s the next project?

Manolo Celi: I have a
short and another feature in the works. The short is musically-themed, and the
feature is more indie-action themed. Besides that, I continue directing

For all info on Tony Tango click here!

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