What’s your Fusion Doc Challenge film, “A Place For Lidia,” about?
My Fusion Doc Challenge film is a portrait of A woman named Lidia. Lidia makes a daily 29 mile journey by two metro trains and bus to her job. She wakes up at four o’clock in the morning and arrives at work, always with a smile eager to do her job. I was amazed at her resilience and strong work ethic. When I found a little bit about Lidia’s story, I knew it had to be told. She has a strong sense of accomplishment for having found a place for her children and herself in this country. She still wants to better her life and sees life as a gift that needs to be appreciated and cared for. It is merely a glimpse into a person who participates in an adventure every time she hops on a bus to work, and the journey that has been her life.
How did you choose your subject?
I choose Lidia because she is such a strong woman who encompasses everything the American dream is about. She came to this country with the clothes on her back and managed to make a life for her and her children. She lives so far from work yet ventures into far away cities to work and sees them as an adventure, she is thankful for every opportunity she has, even though her morning commute puts most people’s to shame! She is truly an inspiration and the very definition of persistence. When I spoke to my team members about the project and Lidia, they were all very exited. Ashley Lowery and Willard Chan, the Directors of Photography, were very exited about the opportunity to capture her story. They were thinking of amazing shots and what a challenge it would be to attempt to capture part of her journey in public transportation with the confines of the small spaces. Our Associate Producer, Wis Petter, right away went into work-mode thinking about the permits, challenges that would go with the time schedule and facilitated everything we would need in order to tell the story, she was very supportive of Lidia and made sure she was comfortable with every step of the process. Our editor Vivian Jeffers, and our music composer John Chavez were both also very committed to the project and did an amazing job to pay Lidia’s story tribute and do it justice with their skills. Over all this amazing network of support and enthusiasm let me know that this was the perfect story to attempt to capture.
What was the hardest thing about the challenge?
The hardest part of the challenge was narrowing down the story to the most basic details. We had more than a whole day worth of interview and footage. We could have told so many stories and had to work very hard to narrow it down to the very basic essence of who Lidia is and why her story matters. She represented so many women and people that come to this country for a better future and how thankful they are for the opportunities they found here. Again, the time restriction was also huge deal. We had to wake up at three AM in order to meet up with Lidia before she began her journey, and we were so limited on time before she had to be at work. What we didn’t capture in one bus stop or train entrance, we would not have for the story. So it was key that every route and stop was planned to the minute in order to have the footage we needed.
What was the best thing about the challenge?
The best part of the challenge for us were the guidelines. There is a reason why it is called a challenge, most people who think of a documentary know that it takes a really long time to follow a subject and find the story within. We only had 5 days and found out about our theme on the first day! The time limit and parameters set interesting barriers that ultimately shaped our choices and challenged us to become more creative in our decisions while keeping everything under 7 minutes! This adrenaline helped fueled our three AM call times and long nights editing. Also all the new information we learned about documentaries. We did so much research on the different types of documentaries, watched many in order to familiarize ourselves with what it takes to clearly communicate a message in this medium. And ultimately it taught us what it is like to work with a team in such close quarters, the symphony that is filmmaking, all these different skills coming together into one canvas.
What’s your biggest take away from the challenge?
With this challenge, as a first time documentary director, I have a newfound respect for the work and effort that goes into documentary filmmaking. In school I never got an opportunity to take a documentary class and this challenge, was like a quick course in five days. I got a tiny taste of how much work and effort goes into someone’s documentary. The way you end up with so much footage and need to narrow down all the small details in order to form the frame work and then filling in the blanks in order to make people care about your subject. It is a very challenging thing and one of the biggest resources for educating people. As a filmmaker you have the amazing opportunity of having an audience give you their undivided attention in order to share a story, and documentaries are a very powerful tool for change.
What is on the docket now for your film career/What are you working on?
I am currently working on a couple short films. I ultimately want to direct commercials and mastering short films is one of the best skills I believe will make my commercials powerful. I am in pre-production for my first narrative short, and am constantly looking to collaborate with other filmmakers in production and writing. I am completely devoted to filmmaking and hope that I can do it for as long as I live.
You can watch a behind the scenes video for A Place For Lidia here!
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