UNDERDOG “The perks of making movies and not worrying about it”.
“Part of the act of creating is in discovering your own kind. They are everywhere. But don’t look for them in the wrong places.”
Last Saturday we got together with my friends to celebrate something very special- the release of our short romantic comedy Underdog. This film has been in the actual making since March 2015, not to mention the idea that my friend, Mayra Celaya (the writer and star of the film), had been carrying around for years preceding our acquaintance. The process included all the usual things: you write a script, book a casting room, scout for locations, put your gear together, and begin filming. After a few months of, at times, torturous post-production labor you can finally put it online, press the “upload” button and share your treasure on a Facebook wall for the rest of the world to see.
A live screening is a little different. It all seems incredibly straightforward and simple until you realize that you are actually sitting in this room, surrounded by people you worked with and some people you do not know, about to watch this film you made and your heart begins to race… Once the screening is over and you post the film online it is alive. You receive numerous positive comments and likes, and yet the feeling of pride seems to escape you, even if you repeatedly say “I am so proud of the work I’ve done”… There is still an underlying and somewhat terrifying question: “Was it good enough?”
I think Underdog has really been an experiment and a very unique learning experience for me and I am sure that the people that worked together with me can say the same thing. You see, when you are fishing for ideas and you come across someone who has something that resonates with you on some level, you agree to work on it, but you don’t really know how it is going to go.
Before I came to LA I was living in London, studying cinema from a very academic perspective. I was trying hard to understand what cinema actually is and how is affects people. For the longest time, I thought that French New Wave had the answer to what cinema HAS to be about: pure unedited reality, captured through the eyes of the director. “Le camera stylo” (French: “camera-pen”), how Alexander Astruc called it, putting out the idea that directors should use the camera the same way writers use their pen. And so I went on reading about “les politique des auteurs” (French name for the “author” theory in cinema) and watched numerous films, mostly European, that were not necessarily exciting but open for interpretation and full of hidden messages.
But honestly, after exploring different styles of filmmaking and filmmakers across the globe I believe that there is no one right way to make a film. I think the only thing you can really hope for when filming your own story is that you have the right people beside you who will be able to follow your thought process and engage with it, because filmmaking is a very messy process and you need a strong team.
I can confidently say that I found the right people to work with during Underdog and that led to a very unique, exciting and of course challenging filmmaking process.
Now, getting back to the dreadful question that I posed to myself earlier: “Is it good enough?”… I think if my work brought a lot of passionate people together and gave all of us the opportunity to invest, explore, learn, create, and express our talents, then there is no need for that question. If we all learned something and got to get together and simply create, then it is already a success.
Besides, how Paul Valery put it, “Work is never finished, only abandoned.”
Underdog was written by Mayra Celaya
Directed by Xenia Leblanc
Initial Budject: 1,000$
Produced by Aya Productions and Fullmillimetre Films under SAG New Media.