Dani Zarandieta wrote the story inspired by his own experiences in NYC. We follow three Spanish friends who are lost in life due to the economic situation in Spain and they are desperate to find where they really belong in this world. When the opportunity for adventure surfaces, they embark on a journey that will change their lives forever. You can checkout his production blog in Spanish and English here.
After months of planning, location scouting, apartment hunting, prop sourcing, scheduling, etc. with Producer Carmen Simon and Director Danni, somehow I found myself on the bus to LaGuardia Airport with DP Doug Lennox about to shoot the first shot in NYC! We met Dani and the Spanish actors, Andrea Dueso, Hector Gonzalez, Oscar Ibanez Fernandez, and Tappy Comico. The drama began immediately with our glamorous lead actress misplacing her passport between immigration and the baggage carousel! After checking her handbag three times, suddenly it miraculously appeared and there was a huge sigh of relief!
From 9-24th April we filmed all over NYC! We filmed at LaGuardia Airport, a Stand Up Comedy venue, the Financial District, under the FDR, Staten Island Ferry, Union Square, Flat Iron District, Upper East Side, Tudor City Park, Roosevelt Island, Broadway Junction, many subway cars, Central Park, outside the Metropolitan Museum, Belvedere Castle, the Great Lawn, Columbia University, two apartments in Brooklyn, two bars, Transmitter Park, Bryant Park, Times Square, Court Square Subway Station in Queens, Greenpoint streets, Brooklyn Queens Expressway, Washington Square Park, The High Line (kind of…), and Hudson River Park. I think that’s it!
I loved every single moment on this shoot but my favorite shooting days were probably Roosevelt Island when we filmed on the cable car across to the island and then under the 59th Street Bridge. By the end of the day we had a crowd of French tourists/fans watching us film.
Without giving too much away, shooting some of the apartment scenes were hilarious! Tippy and Oscar end up in some rather compromising predicaments, which were extremely funny to watch!
I also loved the scene we filmed on the subway station at Court Square. There were a number of elements that made this so memorable. Firstly, cinematically it looked great with the Chrysler and Empire State buildings hovering in the background. The chemistry and interactions between the three male friends was particularly intriguing and finally the logistics of timing shots between trains as an AD was oh, so much fun!
And then finally the evening that we filmed in Bryant Park. This scene is just magic. Two characters are talking about the way NYC has capture and inspired them. The lighting in Bryant Park was just spectacular and the Empire State building glows through a slight mist in the background. We then headed to Times Square and filmed on the iconic red steps, surrounded by people, lights and noise, the atmosphere was electric!
There were a few minor hiccups during filming, including shuffling a few shoot days due to rain and then on the very last day of filming we were kicked off the High Line. Trying to negotiate with the ranger proved useless so we bumped production to the Hudson River Park and shifted the final scene south to pier 45. And kind of serendipitously, it ended up being better than we though with downtown views of the new Freedom tower looming. And it was FREEEEEZING!!! I had to resort to old tactics of running on set just to keep warm!
In fact the weather was quite schizophrenic the whole time. Jumping between Spring and Winter temperatures each day. This also caused another problem for our sound mixer, because with the warmer weather came the cacophonous chant of ice-cream trucks all over the city…they began to haunt us…I have never felt so torn, it was hard for my brain to comprehend hating a truck that delivers on of my most favourite foods in the world. Not to mention it’s really hard to take a dramatic scene seriously when such chipper music is playing in the background.
The film was mostly in Spanish and definitely challenging sometimes communicating with the whole crew. But such an amazing group of people. There we so many laughs shared on set. Somehow our senses of humour aligned and despite the language barrier, at times, we shared a common bond. I have to do a shout out to all of them including:
Dani, our fearless leader and a phenomenal director…you know how much I believe in you…and I know this is just one of many more projects we will work on together in our lives.
Carmen Simon, producer extraordinaire! You know how much I respect you! Not sure when this gal sleeps, she lives and breathes production and wore a million hats on set. I loved every minute working with you, and you always had my back! I cannot thank you enough!
Doug Lennox, our D to the P! Bringing it everyday on set and the footage looks spectacular! Awesome sense of humour, even if you are an Eeeediot!
(Side note: Now, to explain a Facebook status and preface some humiliating footage that is bound to surface one day. As part of my AD duties I was helping slate the scenes, and for those of you who don’t know, we verbally mark them with a scene number and a letter or letters to identify the shot angle. For example for Scene 1 AB, I would call: “ Scene 1 Alpha Bravo, take 1, mark it!” Geraldine Brezca, is a 2nd Assistant Camera, is known as Tarantino's Camera Angel, she calls out all sorts of words to phonetically sound the camera angle letters – and I take great inspiration from her. I tortured the crew one day with delicious food words and grossed them out with diseases and ailments on another. But one day towards the end of the shoot we were filming at Brooklyn Bridge Park and the scene was Scene 38 DE. Also there had been some friendly banter, quips, theme songs and insults exchanged between myself and our English Director of Photography, Doug. Anyway, so here comes the humiliation. Two cameras rolling and I look straight into Doug’s camera and, clearly without thinking, say, “Scene 38 Dumb…Idiot!” …Just as the word slips from my lips I am mortified as I realize that Idiot starts with an ‘I’ and not an ‘E’. Giving the crew plenty of laughs for the rest of the day…week… and probably the rest of my film career!)
Our three other camera operators! Ayse, Mert and Jaime – professional to the core with a beautiful creative eye. Not an easy task juggling a feature between three camera people and you made it look like a piece of cake! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Pablo Diez, our badass Sound Mixer. Despite the helicopters, ambulances and ice-cream trucks you did a kickass job. Your passion for sound is superb, but please drop the diva act, there is no need to throw your coffee on set! Haha And how many likes has that profile pic gathered so far? J
Nati Bujalance, our make up artist to the stars. The woman personifies beauty as a person and in application! Thanks for making everyone look amazing and just being amazing yourself!
Alex Llana, production angel from overseas. I know you have put in a mammoth amount of work and your support for Dani is unwavering! I hope to meet and work with you face to face one day soon!
Our cast of characters (on and off screen). You are AMAZING! You brought Dani’s script to life and created such intriguing and fascinating characters. Away from the camera you are also awesome people. Bringing so many laughs and smiles to our faces. You all have such bright futures ahead and I hope that our paths cross again sooner than later!
Andrea, you are a classic beauty (love taking picks of you for BTS) and we are kindred spirits when it comes to photography, as our symmetry in Instragram pics attest to! You made the perfect Andy!
Hector, it was a pleasure to watch you work and develop the character Rai. I admire your stamina and chemistry with all the actors on set. You have a confidence and charm that is truly captivating!
Oscar, I even got to act with you on the Columbia scene! Your character Selu and you are very different people. A testament to your acting ability! Such a pleasure to work with you. The scenes between Tappy and you will make me laugh for years to come. And you have amazing taste in hats!
Tappy, I can’t help but feel that once I learn Spanish or you learn English our friendship will blossom – I think language is the only thing standing in the way of our senses of humour. You are a true comedian at heart! And a talented dancer too and I will never forget your Pokémon joke!
Sally, citizen of the world and a super star in so many ways. And it was nice to have a fellow Aussie on set! Such commitment to your craft, the camera loves you! And a pleasure to work with every single day! I can’t wait to work with you on many more projects to come!
Pep, you make acting look like a breeze. Despite your crazy schedule we cannot thank you enough for being part of our production. It was soooo much fun filming the running and fight scenes with you in Greenpoint! Handsome and professional, an asset on any shoot!
And thank you to everyone else, including Alberto and Mike who helped out with sound on a couple of days! And our featured cameo roles with Ryan Arnold, Patrick Shane and Karola Sanchez! All integral pieces of the story puzzle and amazing people to work with! Thank you again!
As well as AD-ing I had the pleasure of being the Behind the Scenes photographer/videographer. Having such a fun and handsome crew, along with the always cinematic backdrop of NYC, made it easy to capture some beautiful footage. Resulting in record Facebook ‘Likes’ for many of our cast and crew members! You can see some of my work here.
The time flew by but was filled with a million new memories and lessons learned. I remember standing on my balcony at the wrap party just reflecting on the journey…from a random Facebook chat to feature film in two years. And the first of many more!
I also managed to squeeze in a commercial shoot for Holden! A gig with Aussie Director and Producer. This shoot was a lot of fun with some big rigging equipment and filming in the streets of NYC around Bryant Park. Not to mention our holding and production office on the shoot day was a Karaoke Bar!
April was a great month in many other ways too! But maybe I will share more stories another day!
Definitely, a month to remember!