My Thesis Gets a Boost (2)

By Francisco Castro

Sculpture in a Havana park. Photo: Caridad

Not only directors, but many of the technicians and other workers at TVC (Cuban Television) are happy to work with young directors.  This I could note during the process of producing “The End,” during which time a diverse team was under my professional control, all of them consistently working with the objective of realizing top-notch work.

Unfortunately, exceptions always exist.

“The End” is a story by Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges that begins at sundown and unfolds throughout the night.  Its very name prepares you for something that will occur at the conclusion: in this case several things, among them daybreak.  Along with this, the atmosphere – which shrouds the characters and produces meanings that are connected with the principal discourse of the work – can only be created in the night, and with specific lighting.

I say all this because it’s necessary in understanding that the story, at least the one that I wanted to convey, does not permit filming during a period other than nighttime.  However, to work under such a schedule, it is indispensable to have a van to take each one of the members of the technical-artistic team to the door of their home.

The problem was that TVC didn’t have such transportation, or fuel, or the budget necessary to pay for these – keeping in mind that the budget allocated for the production was half of what is usually dedicated for such a story.

Added to this, special lamps are needed for nighttime filming, lighting that TVC doesn’t possess; these have to be rented, which brings us back to the limited budget.

Given these circumstances, the executive producer made every effort to convince me to change the filming schedule, a concession that I was unwilling to make because it would not have conveyed the story I had in mind.  Nonetheless, I almost had to give in, because neither was my university the Higher Art Institute (ISA) in a position to lend support, at least not with the transportation.

Fortunately the situation caught the interest of photography adviser Bilko Cuervo, who wanted to see the story produced as it had been originally conceived.  He proposed forming a kind of a un-official co-production.  Taking charge on their side would be himself, photographer Ana María Gonzalez, and Reymel Delgado the head of Inxane Pro Film – an independent Cuban producer that makes mainly video clips but hopes to make a fiction short when the funding is available.  They would personally come up with the needed resources – the van as well as the lights that TVC could not afford.

Under these conditions, the television consented to produce the film, though it maintained that if the “independent” partner of the co-production did not fulfill its side of the understanding, there would be no shooting.

Despite the bureaucratic stance of Cuban TV and my university in not facilitating the work (indeed they did more to impede the thesis and practical exercises), and thanks to the students from the faculty – who themselves took charge of the effort, along with the TVC team striving for excellence – we are able to solve all of the production problems encountered.

The filming took place in a mostly cooperative and very creative atmosphere.

To be continued…