So what is your name and where are you from?
B: My name is Begoña Colomar, I am from Spain and currently a resident of Brooklyn.
J: My name is Joseph Mastantuono, I am from France, and I am also resident of Brooklyn.
And what projects are you working on during your time at SPACE?
B: We’re working on the look book for my film “Veracruz,” which I wrote and will be directing.
J: And on my end, the producing end, we’re also strategizing for how we want to try to structure investment, basically who we want to reach out to in order to fund the movie.
How long has this project been in the works?
B: The script took me a year, obviously with breaks, and I finished it this January. Joe and I started working on connecting with people ever since.
J: Yea, that’s one of the things that’s very difficult, if you’re not already enmeshed in the film making culture of a place already it’s important to work with people who really know it well. I’ve noticed huge differences in just working in film on the east coast versus the west coast, so when you’re talking about a different country, like France or India or whatever, it’s almost like a different business because everything around it is different.
B: Very very different. Joe is so much more used to this system where, to get funding, you need to have a known face. So when he was on a Skype call with our two producers from Mexico City he was surprised when they weren’t concerned with that celebrity factor because in Mexico, there is less of a celebrity culture. Usually Mexican films don’t get made because of who’s going to be seen on screen, it has more to do with directors and producers. The name of the director or producer has more to do with funding. The film “Veracruz” has a core team of around five of us from the States but the rest is a Mexican team, all of our actors are Mexican besides the lead actor who is from New York City and maybe one more American actor.
J: It’s really simple things that are completely obvious for a Mexican crew that we totally don’t understand, so we really find it useful to have people there to translate the culture. For instance, in a New York film you always have a Shop Steward, because even if you aren’t union you still have that union mindset. In Mexico there’s this thing called “encargados” which is where a piece of rented equipment comes with an attendant who monitors its usage to make sure it’s being used properly, so you basically can’t rent the equipment without paying for the attendant’s salary. It’s a bit of a fascination of mine to see the difference in filmmaking cultures across the world.
Have either of you worked in México before?
B: I have not, but I’ve worked with Mexican filmmakers in New York and I have connections in the directing community there.
J: And I’ve worked on a documentary set in México about a fireworks festival they have there. The piece was called “Fire and Brimstone”.
So what are your plans after you leave the farm? And after this project?
B: I’m currently working on the second film in this trilogy, coming after “Veracruz.”
J: It’s more of a tryptic than a trilogy, right? That’s a bit pedantic, but it’s a unique series.
B: Yeah, they’re three films related in theme and other surprising ways, like they’re in the same world and the same time but different locations. While the first film is happening in Veracruz the second is happening simultaneously in Mexico City, the third film will be prior to the first two and will take place in the state of Hidalgo.
Have you two ever worked together before?
J: We’ve worked together on setting some things up, like a screening series at Cannes where we first met but mostly we’ve been colleagues as colorists for some years.
B: Yeah it’s bizarre, we’re both colorists and now we’re producer, writer-director. It’s an unusual thing, it’s very unique.
J: Yeah it’s strange, you talk to a lot of writers, directors, producers, and very few come from post production. So hopefully we can bring a slightly unique perspective to the process because of where we’re coming from.
What brought you from being colorists to your respective positions?
B: In 1995 I moved to San Francisco and went to film school there. The Bay Area is very heavy in post production, so when I wanted to get into the industry that was my way in. My first job was at a motion picture lab. I moved to Brooklyn nine years ago to concentrate more into making my own films again. I started freelancing doing color and VFX work part-time and making my own shorts the other half of the time.
J: And I went to film school 15 years ago and had a similar education. I figured out how to do editing suites very cheaply in house early on, and got very into color grading because of that, like I was always the person willing to read the manuals. After film school I started interning at this post house and I realized I knew how to do everything so I left after a time and started freelancing as well. It felt like I was being pigeonholed into this field so I started trying to nurture the projects that I wanted to nurture, not what I was told to nurture. That first happened when my brother came to me with a short and I agreed to produce for him, and that film premiered at Sundance after a long process of production. As a producer, making the work is only part of the process, the rest is deciding what the life of the project will be after its creation. I find that fascinating and fun, like I never knew how creative and fun producing is.
B: We work together well. I think it’s a huge advantage for us to have that background, because not many independent directors understand how to plan for something like a CG shot, but we do. I work the shooting script in great detail so it helps us plan accordingly for the most complex scenes.
So where have you been working on these projects during your time on the farm so far?
B: My favorite spot is Kay Hall, in the common area there. And also the bowling green, I love that space too.
J: I’m apparently the only one, but I like the parlor room. You sit in there and you know that if someone is coming to get you in there, they really need to come get you.
B: You’re not gonna put me to work in that room with you, it’s SO spooky but he’s so casual about it.
J: Well it’s like my grandparents house in France. It’s filled with old things and you’ll never forget that there were people that had this space before you. My family had this hotel in France when I was growing up that I would wander around in, like through all the empty rooms because the hotel wasn’t doing well.
And finally, if you had to be a farm animal, what animal would you be?
B: I have one. I would be a donkey. To me, the donkey symbolizes the struggles and suffering of human beings. We think that they’re stubborn, dumb, but they’re intelligent. You wanna know why they don’t move when you hit them over and over? It’s that they don’t want to die. I’m not gonna move because I see death upon me, you’re pushing me too far. The symbolism is insane. It’s one of my favorite films too, by Robert Bresson, “Au Hasard Balthazar”. I highly suggest watching it, one of the best films ever made. You’ll see the representation there. Donkeys are incredible.
J: Mine’s a little less intense, I’d 100% be a rooster. I’m the year of the rooster, of course, and it’s also the national animal of France because it is the only animal that sings with both its feet firmly planted in shit. For me that’s when I get happy, when we’re in the shit. And you know, when we’re in the shit, if we can still sing, then that’s all that matters.