in plain view q & a with producer-writer-director orestes matacena

Q:
 
Was "In Plain View" a good experience?
     

OM:

 
For anyone who likes to make movies there are no bad experiences making them. I love every minute of it. I prefer to shoot, edit or write than being at a party.
 
     
Q:
 
Are you serious?
     
OM:
 
Making movies is what I consider a wonderful party.
     

Q:

 
Well, let's see if what you are saying is true. Let's start with the actors.
 
     
OM:
 
It was very gratifying to work with a pool of tremendously talented actors like Rene Lavan, Ruth Livier, Ruben Rabasa, Orna Rachovitsky, Shelly Kurtz, Chris Alan, Agustin Buñuel, Carolina Barcos, Benny Nieves, Teresa Berkin, Dennis Curry, John Allen, and the rest of the cast. They brought to each character an exquisite touch that would be the envy of anyone. I gave a simple direction to the actors playing the bad guys, --"I want you to be simple and natural. No bad guy faces or poses, please! On the contrary, be as nice and charming as you possibly can be! Your characters, believe very deeply that what they are doing is the right thing. You must accomplish your goals no matter what because you are absolutely sure that humanity will benefit from it and God will definitely be very proud of you and will be on your side."
   
     
Q:
 
What about the good guys? Did you tell them to be saints?
     
OM:
 
(Laughs) I said basically the same thing to the actors playing the good guys. But with a little twist. If you need to bend the law a little bit to catch a bad guy . . .
 
     
Q:
 
(Cuts him off) Oh, no, no, no, don't say that, please!
     
OM:
 
Yes, I did say it. Bend it!
     
Q:
 
Bend the law! But, aren't they the good guys?!
     
OM:
 
Of course, they are! Let me ask you -- Are you a good person?
     
Q:
 
Yes, most of the time
     
OM:
 
There you go! You are not 100 percent good! No one is.
     
Q:
 
So, as long as you put the bad guys behind bars that is okay.
     
OM:
 
Correct.
     
Q:
 
Ooookeeey.
     
OM:
 
With the direction I gave the actors it was enough for them to be magnificent in their roles. The proof is when you watch them perform on the screen.
 
     
Q:
 
You have no Costume Designer in the movie.
     
OM:
 
And no makeup artist or hair stylist either! My partner, Orna Rachovitsky, used a makeup that acts as a powder but you squeeze it out of a tube. Her mother gave her a gift that had a sample and that’s when Orna discovered it. I forgot the name, ah . . . ah . . . ah . . . Comes in a tube, mmmm . . . "Pore Minimizer, Instant Perfector" made by Clinique. It's great. Anyone can put it on and your face stays perfect, without getting shiny for hours and hours. And best of all no one knows that you are wearing makeup. It's great for digital shooting.
 
     
Q:
 
What about the costumes?
     
OM:
 
Oh, the costumes, yes! I told the actors that they knew their characters better than anyone else, so they should pick the costumes they wanted to use in each scene. I wanted them to feel comfortable and happy. And have some kind of control.
 
     
Q:
 
No surprises?
     
OM:
 
No surprises. The only thing I asked of them, just to make sure everything was kosher, was to show me the costumes they picked for each scene so there would be no "crazy creation" surprises.
 
     
Q:
 
(Laughs)
     
OM:
 
There was one thing I let pass. Aaron Davis, the young boy, wanted to use a bright, bright, bright Chinese red t-shirt in his scenes. It was or still is his "lucky" shirt so I let him use it. However, when I was editing the movie I could see that the red had to be toned down quite a lot in order not to stand out like a sore thumb in the scene. So Orna, who, among many other things, did the color correction, just toned it down and blended it with the rest of the pallette of colors. It was not easy. Hey, but Aaron was happy! He gave an immaculate performance; and that's what it's all about . . .
 
     
Q:
 
I heard that you had to change the director of photography. What happened?
 
     
OM:
 
Yes and no. I had a great cinematographer friend of mine who was going to shoot the movie. He was delighted to be part of the gang, but four days before we started shooting he called me with very unfortunate news, that his wife had to undergo brain surgery immediately. Imagine! What a terrible situation from all perspectives. I immediately called another DP friend of mine, Claudio Chea, and told him the situation. He was in the middle of the color correction of a movie he shot for director Leon Ichaso starring JLo and Marc Anthony and asked me to postpone the shoot for three weeks until he could finish the color correction for the JLo movie. He would be more than happy to do it. Always wanted to work with me. I told him that I was starting in four days. Of course, everyone asked me to postpone the shooting including Orna and my friend Ruben Rabasa. I told them that there was no postponement and that we would start shooting in four days on August 11. They thought that I was a nut, and still do, which I certainly agree with them. I am. But in a good way. When I make a commitment, my word is a bond.
   
     
Q:
 
Why not postpone the shoot?
     
OM:
 
Everything was set to start on August 11. If I postponed the movie it would never have been made because everything falls apart one way or another. If you are a leader, people have to trust you. They must know that there is only one word.
 
     
Q:
 
Four days before principal photography and no photographer!
     
OM:
 
Ha, ha, ha! Everyone went on a "finding a DP spree." Ruben called a mutual friend, producer-writer-director Maylen Calienes, and she said that there was a DP from Spain named Mikel Saenz who could be interested. I called him on the phone, talked to him for a few minutes, and I hired him. He was kind of stunned.
 
     
Q:
 
Stoned?
     
OM:
 
Stunned! Stunned! Ha, ha, ha, ha! Stoned!
     
Q:
 
You hired Mikel on the phone without meeting him in person and seeing his reel?
 
     
OM:
 
That's right. I know exactly what camera setups I want and how I want to shoot each scene. I also work with a blue print kind of story board, where I have all the movements of the actors along with the camera setups. My job as a director is to inspire people to do great work. I believe in the person. When you ask someone to give you the best they always do without failure. With Mikel it was no different. That's why he did such a great job as a cinematographer under very limited circumstances: limited equipment and no crew. The entire crew for this movie was two people. However, the movie looks like I had 100 people in the crew with 25 trucks parked all over the place. Let me tell you something, when we started shooting Mikel was about 30 pounds overweight. Too many Spanish "Paellas!" When I sent him back to Spain he looked like a model from IQ Magazine! I mean GQ! Mikel probably lost 30 pounds! If you want to lose weight and get in shape you must work on a film with me. I lost 14 pounds in 18 days. I was 14 pounds skinnier than what I am now. And, I'm a skinny guy.
 
     
Q:
 
I need to lose about 50 pounds. So count me in on your next project.
 
     
OM:
 
Mikel Saenz was a great find. He can work under real pressure and keep his cool at all times. Mikel says that after working with me in such a demanding shoot he is ready to take any DP job. What he learned with me no film school could ever teach. Mikel did a great job. By the way, my friend's wife is fine. Her surgery went very well.
 
     
Q:
 
I'm glad to hear that. Well, Mikel's work is outstanding.
     
OM:
 
The most lights I allowed him to use was two lights. I like to do a lot of camera setups. For instance the scene where they are sitting at a table . . .
 
     
Q:
 
Gary's scene?
     
OM:
 
Yes. Mikel used only one light shooting straight down onto the table. The light was hanging from a ceiling fan. We made 40 camera setups for that scene.
 
     
Q:
 
You mean cuts.
     
OM:
 
I mean camera setups.
     
Q:
 
That is a great scene. Very intense. Beautifully acted. Gary was great.
 
     
OM:
 
John Allen, who played the character of Gary, was completely exhausted by the time we finished. He had to repeat the dialogue over and over and over and over. He was amazing! Always consistent!
 
     
Q:
 
A crew of two! My god, no wonder you lost all your hair!
     
OM:
 
(Both laugh) Well, the first half of the movie we had only one crew member. The DP. But a girl from Oregon found us on Crag’s List and we hired her. By the time, Heidi Noel Sundstrom, got to LA we were part way into the shoot. She is great. Kept my ass on schedule. Heidi was the second unit DP among many other things. I want to use her as a DP on other projects.
 
     
Q:
 
So you are not a male chauvinist pig.
     
OM:
 
Yes, I am. Heidi can do multiple tasks. Bring my coffee; do my laundry, do all those things while shooting. (Laughs) She has a good eye for composition. Besides she has a great name, Heidi Noel Sundstrom. It has a beautiful sound to it, and it would look great for the cinematographer’s credits in a movie.
 
     
Q:
 
A crew of two! Wow!
     
OM:
 
That’s the only way we could do the movie with a budget under 30 million dollars. (Both laugh)
 
     
Q:
 
What about the music? The music is quite spectacular. How did it come about?
 
     
OM:
 
Well, we got a wonderful composer that worked on the score for a while, but unfortunately he could not create the music that I wanted for this particular movie. So we had to go and look for another composer and after interviewing five of them we were extremely lucky to have found Dan Weniger. He just grasped what I wanted from the first meeting, and he had fun and created an amazing score. It is riveting.
 
     
Q:
 
It certainly is! So, you edited "In Plain View?"
     
OM:
 
I loooove editing. I hate digitizing, though. I fall asleep in front of the editing station when I am digitizing.
 
     
Q:
 
And the sound . . . ?
     
OM:
 
I designed the sound. Edited the sound, did the foley, etc.
     
Q:
 
Did you mix it too?
     
OM:
 
No, no, no, of course not! We had a company already set to begin the mixing immediately after composer Dan Weniger would deliver the music. I was on top of Dan bugging him to finish the score ASAP. He scored the entire movie in about 15 days
 
     
Q:
 
Two weeks!
     
OM:
 
But the moment Dan Weniger delivers the music, the owner of the sound mixing studio sold it, and we were out of a studio and with no mixer.
 
     
Q:
 
No way!
     
OM:
 
Imagine. We were already behind schedule because of the first composer.
 
     
Q:
 
Now you are out of a sound mixing studio!
     
OM:
 
We started to look for another sound mixing studio and a Mixer. We met with Dean Okrand, a six time Emmy Winner, who was also nominated three times, and showed him some of the scenes of the movie. He liked it so much that he said he was in. Orna and I were more than delighted to have Dean onboard. The problem was that he did not have a mixing studio. Dean works for the big boys who provide him the studios and whatever he needs and wants. He says that he likes to stay busy. (Both laugh)
 
     
Q:
 
So back on the streets again in search of a sound mixing studio.
     
OM:
 
That's right. We went all over. Until I remembered I had made a film as an actor where I met the owner of a top sound mixing studio in Hollywood, so I showed him a few scenes from the movie. He loved the project and said to count on him. Great! Of course, Orna forbade me to say anything to anyone about our findings. She wanted me to give the news only at the time when everything was running on track smoothly. She didn't want to jinx our accomplishments. We set a day to start the sound mixing after waiting three weeks for the studio to clear its commitments. From there on they would have a couple of blank weeks which was perfect timing for us. The day before starting the sound mix, the owner of the studio called me on the phone and discarded the deal that we had agreed on three weeks earlier, and asked me for a ridiculous amount of money.
 
     
Q:
 
What did Dean Okrand say?
     
OM:
 
Dean said nothing. However, we were horrified of losing him. Another job could come along and that would have been the end of him mixing our movie. We were looking all over the place for a sound mixing studio when a Bulgarian friend of mine, Spas Muleshkov said to me, why don't you call Matthias Weber. He might be able to do it in his studio or know someone who could. That is how we found a brand new state-of-the-art sound mixing studio in Santa Monica named OneOFour Studio. The owner, Vincenzo LoRusso, Vinnie, is another re-recording mixer of "In Plain View." Of course, when we started mixing Vinnie got married and went on his honeymoon in Hawaii. He came back very relaxed and happy to work.
 
     
Q:
 
"In Plain View" broke in OneOFour studio?
     
OM:
 
You bet! It was an exhilarating experience to watch and hear "In Plain View" in 5.1 surround sound.
 
     
Q:
 
What about a party?
     
OM:
 
Making movies is what I call a real insane party! That's my kind of party! I'm planning to get another party underway very soon. This one will be astronomically intense!
 
     
   
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