"Tengo Miedo" aired as part of the 2013 edition of "Fine Cut." A summary: In a time when forced recruitment of minors is at an all time high, one boy must make a decision that would cost him his innocence.
Here, we speak with Pepa Albornoz, the director of "Tengo Miedo," about elements of documentary filmmaking, crowd-sourcing, and her internships.
Your film draws upon components of documentary filmmaking to counteract the more cinematic style with which you tell the story of this specific Colombian child soldier. What interests you about these distinct elements?
There is a huge difference between a close-up done for a documentary and a close-up done for a narrative film, and the difference lies in the valid and truthful nature of both. Telling the truth or telling a lie, there's not much difference because they both reveal things about the character or a situation. In this case I wanted both. I wanted what a documentary can offer you, which is a much raw and truthful approach to a situation or a character, what they reveal nuances of spirit. You can see it even in the eyes. It's not scripted, it's just raw.
A narrative allows you to enhance that reality in the way retelling a story of something that happened to you or to a friend can have layers and layers of added elements that happened or didn't happen in reality but end up enhancing that anecdote. I was inspired by documentaries made on the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), and I wanted to combine the emotions these documentaries made me feel with the enhanced reality of narrative filmmaking.
You have a background in journalism. How has this informed your filmmaking and storytelling style?
I learned in journalism to think in questions -- How, Why, What and Where. This simplicity of thought, you know, has probably allowed me to write socially conscious films in a much more organic way. I have an enormous appreciation for documentary filmmaking, and transitioning to narrative probably comes from wanting to answer all of those questions myself in a much more, let's say, conceptualized and poetic way.
Using the fundraising website Kickstarter, you raised over $1,300 to shoot this film. Do you feel crowd-sourcing is going to be a sustainable method for financing films in the future, both for yourself and others in the film community?
I think it's a wonderful thing. Crowd-sourcing allows normal movie goers like you and I, to be a part of films in a more active way. How many times have we wanted to have been a part of all this movie world experience that only filmmakers and actors seem to have a grip on? Well, now it's the chance for all this people to decide what they want to watch, not in the "Netflix" way, but rather in contributing in the development of a project. This is unprecedented and very exciting not only for the independent filmmakers out there but also to the normal moviegoers.
In 2010, you received a film internship grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. What can you tell us about your internship experiences?
It was fun! I got two internships at the time, one at George Clooney and Grant Heslov's Smoke House and the other at Sid Ganis' Out of the Blue Entertainment. It was my first encounter with the "industry" here in L.A., and for me, having come from Venezuela, was an out-of-body experience to be working with such cool people who have been surviving and doing this for so long. I truly understood just how difficult it can be for ALL of us here, but yet it can be so rewarding. I was working for Out of the Blue when we got the call from Sid that "Pan Am" had just been picked up. And it was euphoric! And I also was in Smoke House around the time they were getting closer to greenlighting "The Ides of March." They were both such exciting times for them.
Who do you consider some of your greatest artistic inspirations?
I feel you can ask me that every two years and I will give you different answers. In filmmaking, I will dare to say Fellini is my biggest inspiration. Also F.W.Fassbinder, Truffaut, and Pedro Almodovar. In painting, Frida Kahlo.
What's next for you?
At the moment, I am working as a Creative Executive/Partner at Studio Pyxis. We are the underground Pixar, let's call it that way. We develop both technology and content for film, and we let other independent filmmakers use these tools. I am adapting a famous Spanish theater play by Alejandro Casona to the big screen, and about to start pre-production on a new short film.