March 25, 2014 | posted in Filmmakers
One of the best ways into the film industry is surprisingly simple: make friends.
Coraly Santaliz has been working in the business since 1998, when she took a small acting role in one film and a production assistant position in another. Since then, she has become an accomplished script supervisor for films in both Puerto Rico and the mainland U.S., including high-profile titles like “Fast Five” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” Now she has worked her way up to directing her own feature-length film, “La Espera Desespera,” or “Hopeless Hopeful.” She credits both her long experience on film sets, and all of the friends that she made during that time, with the success of her film shoot.
“All the crew I worked with knew me because we worked together on so many movies, so it was working with my friends,” she explains. “My workmates all supported me and gave 100% on this project, so it was an awesome experience.”
At first glance, the premise of “Hopeless Hopeful” looks like an unlikely site for a comedy: a man coping with his wife’s potentially terminal illness, and his inability to pay for her medical care, hatches a plan to rob banks to pay the bills. Santaliz takes the health-care crisis very seriously.
“It always bothers me that if you don’t have money, you can die,” she says. “I didn’t want to make a huge drama, because we all know the situation, so I made it a little bit funny.”
The humor is not found in the problem itself, but in the hare-brained solution her protagonist comes up with.
“Trying to rob a bank is not as easy as he had thought,” she says. “This is not really a bad guy, and he doesn’t know how to do it. In the process, he complicates things even more, and that’s when the funny part really comes.”
Her role as a script supervisor helped her when it was finally time to write and produce her own script, because she had thoroughly absorbed the rules and conventions of visual storytelling. She also had an enormous pool of talent to draw on from her colleagues over the years.
Her advice to aspiring filmmakers is straight-forward enough: “Work in the film industry, even if you work as a production assistant or something, because you’re starting out with people, and you start getting to know the film set, and that really helps you by the time you really get to do your own.”
— Lara Klaber
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