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El Blog

From script > screen > NOW

Creating a successful film project of any sort is like trying to make a perfect storm. There are so many projects that are being realized every day, but it only takes a few things to not click well that will prevent that project from ever reaching the next level.

It's kind of like being in Miami during hurricane season. You see tons of storms brewing off the coast of Africa every year. Many turn into what seem will be world-ending events that will sink Miami to the bottom of ocean, but at the last second a change in pressure steers those monsters away from South Florida. That's EXACTLY what filmmaking is like. Tons of people have world changing ideas, but if you don't have all of the right components in line to support the execution of that idea, the intensity of your storm will fade or its direction will change. That was not the case with Hialeah...

I was on a plane from LA to Miami in September of 2016 when I realized a familiar face was also on my flight. Melissa Carcache and I (David A. Vargas) went to high school together and hadn't crossed paths in nearly 10 years. Melissa, fresh off of her show "Every Witch Way" on Nickelodeon, and me fresh off of my movie that I made with Javier Mayol, "Love and Hostages" (now available on Amazon, iTunes and GooglePlay btw), were both looking for our next creative endeavors. There are nearly 1,600 flights that come in and out of LAX daily, but the randomness of us being on that same plane to the MIA was the commencement of a long and exciting working relationship!

After a brainstorming meeting at the Starbucks in Miami Lakes, we came to realize that we were on the same page. Creating a comedy series based on a Cuban-American family had been beeping loudly on both of our radars for quite some time, and this was the time to strike. ¡La estufa estaba ecendida! There was only one problem however, it was the week before Thanksgiving and we had till January 31st to shoot everything....

(Back row left-right) Marcos Casanova, Cristina Figarola, Noel Mirabal, Alejandro Becerra, Marta Velasco, Jordan Wall, Melissa Carcache, David Goldenholz, Ismael Torrealba (Bottom row) René Lavan, David A. Vargas

Did we have a script? NA! Did we have actors? NOPE! Locations? HA!!

From here on out it was indie-filmmaking warfare at its finest. Having just finished Love and Hostages (now available on Amazon, iTunes and GooglePlay btw), with a crowdfunding budget, Javier and I were no strangers to working with very little and pulling favors from every corner. It was TIME that had now become our worst enemy. Melissa pulled together a miracle cast by bringing in some of her former cast-mates from Every Witch Way (Rene Lavan and Elizabeth Elias), while also contacting Cuban theaters in Little Havana to get Marta Velasco and Marcos Casanova to bite down on our scripts. We took the 6 scripts, that were written in 2 weeks, to Jordan Wall who formerly starred on the successful A&E series "The Glades." We filled in the remaining spots with the hysterical Noel Mirabal , the amazingly talented Sheena Colette, one of our supporting actresses from Love and Hostages (now available on... just kidding :), and Miami-born Cuban-American / silver medalist extraordinaire at the Rio Olympics / Dancing Prince of Univision (damn what a title!)... Danell Leyva.

(Left-Right) Melissa Carcache, Jordan Wall, Danell Leyva, David A. Vargas, Sheena Colette, Javier Mayol

It looked like we were actually going to pull this off...

We had 7 days to shoot 6 episodes. Jordan told me, "Are you sure you'll be able to do this?" I responded, "You don't know me, bro." We virtually shot an episode per day with scripts averaging about 10 pages. There wasn't much time for camera set-ups. I kept the camera on my shoulder and pretty much ran everything like a stage production pretending like I was filming a play and capturing the moments with a variable lens. One of the challenging things for me was timing the performances of the actors with camera movement, which can arguably enhance or deflate a joke if done correctly or incorrectly. With all of this lightening that we were capturing in a bottle, it was evident to everyone on set that something truly special was being born. A perfect storm was starting to brew, and we could feel the winds coming!

Taking the still for the show's poster. Our rendition of the "Cuban Last Supper"

We Launched on Facebook...

a few months later after making some rough cuts of the show to reveal what we had been up to. With the help of some popular social media influencers, like Jenny Lorenzo, our audience exploded over night without us even revealing an episode. There was something magical about making a show called "HIALEAH" that made people feel something. I believe they were starting to feel what we were all feeling on set; the feeling of a hurricane of emotions that combines certain ideas of nostalgia, humor, love, family and food that can only be explained if you've experienced it for yourself.

A still from the first video we launched revealing our show

Stay tuned for the next "EL BLOG" where I'll go into explaining some of our episodes, as well as the incorporation of testimonials from real Cuban exiles into the show itself.

Please like, comment and share our show if you like what you're seeing!¡¡DALE!!

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