This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
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Next up: an interview with Hernando Bansuelo and Josh Watson, writers of A Reunion
Hernando Bansuelo holds an MFA in Film and TV Production from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and holds a BA in Stage Directing from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. His debut feature, A REUNION, produced under his production banner, Tricoastal Entertainment, during his final year in film school, will be released theatrically and digitally in September 2015. It is Executive Produced by the Ebersole Hughes Company (ROOM 237, HIT SO HARD).
His work has screened in Cannes, South Africa, Iceland, the UK, the Bahamas, and across the US. Hernando also has been a three time Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2nd Round Finalist and is currently developing a sci-fi epic (MONARCH, winner of the Silver Prize in Science Fiction at the 2014 Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest), GET CLOSE (about stage and screen legend Glenn Close) and several other projects.
With extensive industry experience, he has worked in production offices (Oliver Stone’s World Trade Center, Mike Nichols’ Charlie Wilson’s War, Noah Baumbach’s Margot at the Wedding), on-set with large-scale filmmakers (James Foley’s Perfect Stranger, NBC’s Lipstick Jungle) and completed A-list internships (Playtone Productions – Hanks and Goetzman, Double Feature Films – Sher and Shamberg). The award-winning filmmaker has also participated in the Ingmar Bergman immersion program at Sweden’s Lund University, the Reykjavik International Film Festival’s Talent Lab, and Film Independent’s Project:Involve. He recently completed THE DADDY (ANG TATAY), a hybrid documentary short set in the Philippines.
Under his production banner, TriCoastal Entertainment, co-founded with life and professional partner, Hernando Bansuelo, Josh Watson has produced about a dozen short films and the feature, A REUNION. The film is to be released in fall, 2015 after having been acquired by distribution company, Ariztical Entertainment.
Watson attended Loyola University Chicago (graduating Magna Cum Laude and gaining entrance to Phi Beta Kappa), where his wide ranging liberal studies included film, theater, political science and social justice. After graduation, Josh served two years with the AmeriCorps program, completing community service projects with neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, California. While in LA, he also began building a professional acting resume that included playing a lion in the LA Opera’s version of THE MAGIC FLUTE (Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), as well as a suspected killer in Timothy Folsome’s hip-hop horror flick, CUTTHROAT ALLEY. Josh, a member of SAG-AFTRA, continued studying acting at UCLA under the tutelage of Kim Darby, Paul Napier, and Robert Thompson.
Josh is thrilled that his next feature, AMERICAN JOHN, sheds light on the racial and class inequities that pervade this country and provides an inspirational story of perseverance and breakthrough.
What is the name of your first screenplay that was produced, or your first project that was produced, or your first writing assignment?
A REUNION is our first screenplay that has been produced. And for it to receive theatrical and digital distribution and be out in the world is nothing short of a miracle.
Our limited theatrical run begins on Friday, September 18th through 24th at the Laemmle’s Music Hall in Beverly Hills, you can purchase tickets here:
That will be followed by a digital and DVD release later this fall.
Check out our Trailer:
- Can you tell us a bit about the journey as to how it came about?
Hernando was in his final year at USC earning his MFA in Film Production. We wanted to make an independent feature in lieu of a thesis project and began brainstorming our personal histories and scenes that we had not seen depicted in film before. The idea of a road trip between two friends exploring an intimate past came to us early on. We wanted to dissect a familiar genre but imbue it with specific details that ultimately would make the story more universal. And the visual possibilities seemed endless.
- Tell me a little bit about the experience of having the project come to completion.
A REUNION was a whirlwind journey. Our amazing crew of twelve (!) traveled from Los Angeles to Chicago over the course of three weeks. We wanted to create a lived in feel, akin to a docudrama. This creative looseness granted us the ability to find dynamic locations, stage our scenes, and capture these cinéma vérit moments each day. This is what made the filmmaking experience, and we hope the film, so special.
- What was the hardest obstacle to overcome in achieving that first project?
The logistics of shooting a road trip film while actually on the road made for complex filmmaking experience. Luckily, our scenes were designed in a way that allowed us maximum freedom to shoot them in interesting, expansive ways. We budgeted time for exploration and investigation – this was invaluable in giving the film a richness we couldn’t possibly have scheduled.
- What have you learned about the industry when it comes to being a writer?
Evolution is key. It is an iterative process. Screenwriting is an overwhelming and humbling profession. It hurts. It lifts you. It makes you face yourself in incisive ways. Overall, it’s damn exciting to create whole worlds on the page that can translate to filmable action. It sounds so simple but in reality, is very difficult. The process is mysterious and magical, rigorous and redundant. We chase the truth in this very compressed timeframe and want to do it again and again to get closer to getting it right.
- What are you working on now?
Our next feature script, AMERICAN JOHN, was selected by the Tribeca Film Institute as a part of its Tribeca All Access program. We will be producing along with Ann Le of DEAR WHITE PEOPLE, which debuted at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. We also have several TV pilots and other features in development.
- What is your favorite movie or TV series?
Hernando: The Player and The Sopranos
Josh: Cinema Paradiso and Modern Family
- Where do you think the movie and television industry is heading? What do you think its future is?
As entrepreneurial filmmakers, we are excited to continue creating compelling and personal stories. We want to explore story telling in every possible format regardless of length or distribution outlet. We are headed to a place where stories will be available everywhere and we want to be a part of that.
- What parting advice do you have for writers?
Sounds cliché but Write. Begin and continue and begin again. Fail. Risk. Do it because you love it. It’s all application. You must commit to the page.
- What do you do when you’re not writing? What do you do to get away from the industry?
Josh: I see a lot of movies and I’m also an actor. I try to take advantage of the California terrain and get away from the city for a weekend once a month. There are so many beautiful locations within just a couple hours drive.
Hernando: I’m a voracious reader. Plays, novels, scripts, articles, reviews – anything I can get my hands on.
- Tell us something about yourself that many people may not know.
Josh: I’m an AmeriCorps alum having served two years in the program. I first served with the National Civilian Community Corps in Washington, D.C. My second year was with the I Have A Dream Foundation here in LA.
Hernando: During my undergrad days at UCLA, I studied Swedish and the work of Ingmar Bergman for a gorgeous summer in Sweden. WILD STRAWBERRIES is one of my favorite films.
And take a look at the other interviews in this series:
Jim Vines http://ow.ly/R0gv9
Nick Felice, http://ow.ly/QIF9O
Bryce Richardson, http://ow.ly/OWxBS
Tracee Beebe, http://ow.ly/ODrGq
Mary Krell-Oishi, http://ow.ly/Olp7W
Stuart Creque, http://ow.ly/O1Ubu
P.J. McIlvaine, http://ow.ly/NIE74
Ken Lemm http://ow.ly/NoT9c
Jane Rosemont http://ow.ly/N6epJ
Todd Niemi http://ow.ly/MOfFq
Louis Pappas, http://ow.ly/LxRji
Allan Brocka, http://ow.ly/LfQNy
Gregory Blair http://ow.ly/KZj9s
Josh Kim http://ow.ly/K7obx
Jim Thalman http://ow.ly/JQ8YT
David Au http://ow.ly/JwM0A
Dwayne Alexander Smith http://ow.ly/J8GJI
Haifaa Al-Mansour http://ow.ly/ITabq
Chad Crawford Kinkle http://ow.ly/HXLq0
Mikey Levy http://ow.ly/HA9Xm
Hilliard Guess http://ow.ly/HcOmr
Amir Ohebsion http://ow.ly/H8aPq
Donald McKinney http://ow.ly/GvPfn
Michelle Ehlen http://ow.ly/GvPr1