Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

La música

Me reuní con mi amigo Fernando De Lucchi esta noche y fue algo bueno. No solo en ponernos al día en nuestras vidas de los ultimos años sino tambien en hablar sobre mi proyecto.
Le estoy propniendo componer el "tema" principal de mi película. He pensado encargarme de la música incidental pero depende de precios para ver si encargo mas a otros. Muchas cosas no lo hago asi no por angurriento ni acaparador, sino por tema económico. Felizmente conozco del tema sino no podría hacerlo.
Se barajaron varias ideas, y es que hay varios parametros que deseo sean cumplidos. El primero es que no solo deseo darle a la música un tono marcial sino además que tenga esa energía épcia y egregia. Algo mas "widescreen", algo bien "cinemascope" como cuando uno iba a ver esas peliculas grandes en los 50's. Se que puede sonar pretensioso pero no lo considero tal. Pondré mi mejor esfuerzo en traducir eso en imagenes que lo respalden.

Y el segundo es en lo natural del sonido. Ambos nos entendimos en esto porque tenemos los dos estudios de grabacion de audio y sabemos como músicos lo barato y/o falso que pueden sonar las cuerdas y metales en los sintetizadores o en algunos teclados.
Es lo que mas delata en una canción...ese sonido que muchos lo conocen como el "sonido Casiotone" (en referencia a eso teclados/juguete baratos que aparecieron a comienzos de los 80's y que tenian un sonido característico). Quizás en general muchos no lo notarían pero el purista o entendido sí, y eso restaría seriedad al proyecto.

Se barajó la posibilidad de usar músicos en vivo pero no creo que dé mi presupuesto, al menos que se sepan de alternativas que puedan cubrir esos costos. Sería interesante quizas mezclar instrumentos secuenciados por sintetizador mas músicos reales. Eso sí lo podría cubrir. Los matices mezclados le darían esa realidad de "orquesta sinfónica" que necesito para el film.

Pero...todo es presupuesto. Veremos como avanzo con ello en estos días.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Make up and prosthetics...not a good start

Ok, this is worry some.

Morning today was the make up and prosthetics camera tests but...the mustache applications weren't good. It didn't look realistic for my friend's expertise is more toward theater techniques than for film.

One thing to keep in mind is that theater make up is designed to be appreciated at a far distance for one's features need to be exaggerated to "reach" as far as the last seat in the row in a theater or auditorium, as in film....film needs to be natural and realistic for cameras -while doing close up shots- give away any imperfection....and now specially if I'm shooting in high definition!

So...I'm out of ideas so far. We juggled a few alternatives but I'll keep looking for ways to make it work.

This is extremely important now.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Found my lead actor!

I finally got the lead actor to sign in for my film!!
I met Fernando Bakovic thru a friend of mine and we arranged a meeting for this evening.
Walked him thru the whole project and explained what Id like Bolognesi to be portrayed as.

I'm glad he liked the dimension this project is growing to be and...he is in!
I can see that in person he has the strong features I was looking for and with make-up and some prosthetics, he will do just fine.

By the way....tomorrow I'm expecting the prosthetics specialist for the mustache and beard camera tests and then in the afternoon the meeting with the music composer.
I'll be writing the incidental music for the film but Id like another person to do the theme song and three songs for the main characters plus one for the enemy Chilean forces. Kind like their "Leit Motifs".

Have some melodies in mind that I want to play to him to use and develop.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Positive meeting!!

The meeting went very well!!

The entity inside of the army that required my presence was a committee set to study and analyze the psychological impact all types of work that involves the army, would have on the general public.
And mine was to their liking and approval!!

I explained in detail what the mission and inner involvement I have with my film so they could see it has been responsibly approached (I mean, 6 years of my life into this isn't a joke, right?).
So they will make with my help a letter to send to the commander general that my film is up to par and that their help can come my way!

Of course I need the letter signed by the army proving with it their formal support with what I need form them. But all is coming on January as these days are holidays.

I'm so happy about this progress, apart that I met good people in those officers.
Small moves and all is going well!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A new meeting...more hope

Today I got a call from the general headquarters by a colonel identifying himself as the one who I need to talk to about the needs I'll have for the film.
Other colonels told me he would call but time passed as these last weeks have been busy for the army: the miltary parade (that was supposed to be done on July 28th but was postponed till December 8th because of the Swine Flu thing) and the Army Day that is on the 7th.
it has alaso been interesting as Peru will be aquiring around 300 tanks. The thing is that from the three countries that are on the bidding (Russia, Poland and China), these latter one gave us tanks form less of a price and improving the standards that we needed to compete with the Chilean ones (the german made Leopard).

At $5 million each it was a bargain, but many are criticizing the purchase as its like a re-engineered tank and not built from scratch to meet the
high standards needed. Kinda like putting a Mercedez Benz motor into a Toyota chassis, so to speak. Not bad but not the best either. The new tanks MBT2000 were shown on this last parade causing much media attention and interest comapred to the old T-55 that we have had since the 70's.

I'm definetly in favor of renewing our army forces equipment but if I could have a saying in the decision-making process I'd definetly choose the best tank (maybe the Russian made T-90s). It costs much more and we woudlnt be able to buy 300. Maybe buy 240 or so, but put togerher with the old ones we have we might be able to feel we have made a wise purchase.

Anyway, the last word hasn't been said. China is re-tewking the tank and they only gave us 5 for the parade and will deliver the new ones in a 12 month span.
They have a few things to upgrade and then our tanks would lastly be up to par with our needs.

Many people feel investing in weaponry is a loss of money when we have poor people, hunger and education lacking more funds. I agree on that as a nation with knowledge and health is the best, but I also agree that a nation needs to be able to protect it's sovereignty and be able to repel any enemy action that challenges our peace and resources, specially when countries next to us are arming themselves way much more than us. We can't repeat the same error we did 130 years ago. There's a slogan I like that belongs to the United States army that states" "Army: not to promote war, but to preserve peace". I'm nodding.

Last Saturday was the Commander General's birthday so, that was another busy day for the army too.

So now, at last, another busy week for meetings at the general headquarters. Im having my hopes high for my film.

Waiting almost ending

Haven't posted anything in some days. Been busy polishing the script.
I somehow feel more cleanly inspired and the new details put in it will embelish it.
Still have to rush it though as time flies and sooner or later the new script will be needed.

The army hasn't told me anythign yet and I've been waiting patiently to see if the Comander General would repeat his leadership again this next year (I so crossed my fingers as starting all over again the talkings and negotiations would be such a delay) and I think he will remain this 2010 (unless anything happens last minute).

This last Friday there was a mass on his name on the general headquarters and the priest and him gave away some words that denote his continuation in office. His speech gave it away too but I'll be more safely assured to read it officially.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Here comes the cavalry!

Went today to visit the cavalry school to seek support for my film.
They loved the idea and even offered some suggestions. I am looking also for horses that know how to fall, for the script need explosion scenes that make the horses and soldiers fly and fall.

Seems a bit difficult but if I've seen that in movies then it's possible.
Anyway, I love horses and it was good to see those noble animals after a while.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pushing the project forward

Went today to the Hoyos Rubios army fort in the Rimac district. Home of the 18th Armored Brigade run by General Pitot.
In my prior talking to him and also in the ceremony two days ago, he digged my film project idea and agreed to help on my requirements. Now, with the help of their industrial areas I can make uniforms and soldier battle accessories like belts, bullet casings and backpacks. Of course, I DO need to buy and give them all the materials for they won't spend a dime. Still, its better than to have it made somewhere else. I'm saving the manufacturing expense here.

It was also nice to find there a guy that I met back in 2005 while visiting Tacna in one of my research trips down there. He was an army officer in a lower rank and now he has gone up the ladder. Proved the general that I've been in this thing for quite a long time already.
Things are developing well so far.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I joined the legion!

Last week I joined the "Orden de la Legion Mariscal Caceres" (Order of the Mariscal Caceres Legion) and today was the ceremony at the Salaverry Military Center.

This legion is about promoting our nationa hero Andres Avelino Caceres.
I have already made my intention known that if my film project goes along well, I'll continue with Caceres and the Breña Campaign he did back in 1881 to repel the chilean forces out of Peru.
His life and patriotism goes along the ones that defended with honor our nation like Bolognesi and Ugarte.
Although he did not die in battle, he fought in several and even was president twice later on after the war.
General Pitot was there also and he agreed to meet with me this Friday to talk about my need for clothing machinery to make the soldiers wardrobe. He agreed but details will be talked in depth in the meeting.

It was a nice ceremony and also the Commander General was here. Just got a brief talk with him.
Im getting closer now!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The doors are opening slowly

The meeting went smooth and fine. The Secretary General loved my project!!
He went ahead and gave his opinion that the Commander General would also approve it.
I shared my uneasiness regarding nowadays situation with this "spy" incident and if it would be a threat to my idea. He didn't think so.

One step closer now....one step closer.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Meeting with the Commander General

Tomorrow, finally, I have the meeting with the Commander General.
It is exciting to know I'm getting to talk to the one deciding.

But what kills me with anxiety is the risk now, the huge risk, of having this project, a project of approximately 6 years, be put on hold or not taken because of the recent "spying/traitor" case with Chile.
New things are coming out in the open and it's all over the news nationwide and in other countries.

The situation is very delicate right now between Peru and Chile and I guess my project will have to be reviewed by not only this Commander General but also by the Secretary of Defense and maybe by the President itself. And with how the things are happening, I just hope it doesn't get banned or put on hold just because of "national security" reasons.

My approach is historical and not looking to make anyone look bad. Just showing facts as is in a very human way.

More than ever, our country and our heroes deserve to be remembered in a different light. More than ever, we Peruvians need to commit ourselves to our sense of being a nation and feel proud about it, but that's my intention and may not be taken as such by those deciding people.

I wish I wouldn't have to depend on those factors.
A dream, a project I'm in love with is in risk of being frustrated.
I pray to God these events are the push I needed to make this happen faster instead.
It all depends on God now...I just wish I knew what his plans are for me on this.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A traitor among us....!

It just came out to nationwide awareness two days ago of a delicate incident that is of every Peruvian interest: a member of the Peruvian Air Force (FAP) has been found to have been selling sensitive information to Chile since 2003 to the present year. From army codes, national defense strategies until 2021 and also the names of all agents of our counter-intelligence service on duty.

(Click here for the recent news)

It's under thorough investigation and about to be defined if it will be treated under civil or martial justice for treason against the nation and as a spy. For either case he would spend around 35 years in prison and no less than 15 at the best of cases.

Since the 1993 Peruvian Constitution, the death penalty has been abolished in cases of treason against the nation unless its during war times (which we aren't now), so his ass is saved.

What is gathered among many Peruvians -apart from their obvious dislike about this- is that he deserves the most strong of punishments for this act of treason. Many suggest death penalty (which we had it until 1979) and few less radical sanctions.

Now I'm sure, if death penalty was still constitutional, the Human Rights Organization would jump to the ceiling in his defense for this act, but my thinking is (and with all respect to human life), how far is a human being willing to go for just 3 thousand dollars per month (what he was paid by Chile) putting at risk the lives of 30 million Peruvians not only in their physical but psychological form by selling info of national security? If we don't set an example that laws need to be obeyed and respected and that it applies to everybody so they think hard before committing such an atrocity against their nation, how can we progress united as a nation? How can we instill in our countrymen the need to protect ourselves and our boundaries? How are we gonna teach the masses that no matter how hard the economy is there are simply things (like these) that just cannot be done?

Now, for just one guy's personal interest, our nation has been put at risk (and has been for the past 6 years) and up until 2021 (and now forced I guess to change our strategy of defense and do a deep investigation of how many more are involved by Internal Affairs and the Justice Department).

There are things that can;t be forgiven and this is simply one of them.
To respect the "rights" of one guy over the rights of 30 million is simply illogic...or in my opinion, unacceptable.

I just hope this present event doesn't spoil also my film project which among all countries around us, had to be with Chile (the one we had the war with in the film).

I wonder what our national heroes of that time would think of this.
I'm sure Bolognesi is turning upside down in his grave.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Peruvian Army Headquarters meetings

Had another meeting today (4th one already) at the General Headquarters today. We colloquially call it the "Pentagon" in jest as it plays the same role as the US army one.
Meetings are getting better and negotiations are reaching a high point.

Now the next one is with the peruvian army general commander to agree in writing on the needs for my film. After that, it's mostly 70% done. Still need to secure sponsors funding.

On a side note; every time I come here can't help but recall my school years when sometimes we used to come and march every June 7th with my PRG school.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Polishing my screenplay

Just me here continuing polishing and retouching the screenplay for my film.

Every time I re-read the historical facts it I can't help but wonder at how much courage and balls these people had to fight the enemy that outnumbered them by a ratio of 4-to-1. Definetly, courage and honor at best.
The possibilities of coming out alive of that encounter was slim as you can see in this famous oil painting by Lepiani done just a few years after the battle.

Lepiani was so into details and precision that he even went as far as to exhume soldier bodies to check on their uniforms and equipment. This one of Alfonso Ugarte jumping off the cliff of the morro to avoid having our flag fall on enemy hands is just simply majestic. But of course I'm keeping focused and showing things as they were and not sinning of patriotic drive or partiality.

I just close my eyes now and imagine how the scenes will look as I film them in some months....!!

Now...off to write in my fav corner place.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Securing interior locations

When I was little, maybe not more than seven years old, my grandfather used to walk all around downtown and take me with him and that's how I learned of many awesome places in the historic district of Lima downtown.

One that called my attention a lot was the Parque Universitario (University Park). Back then in the late 70's, it used to be full of street beggars, improvised street commerce, pickpockets, and senior men sitting around concrete chess tables playing for hours and the usual onlookers surrounding them.
It was the end of the military government and the city was getting back on track with thing abolished by Velasco.

Next to the park was this beautiful, old but interesting building that was the original site of the San Marcos University (hence the name of the park) called La Casona de San Marcos.

I saw in awe all the old structures and building of what Lima used to be centuries ago and that shouted in a muted cry how ancient and valuable our peruvian history is.

Years later, back in 2007, I visited the park and building again. It was under reconstruction and refurbishing. Some of the places were not open to the public so I had to wait.

Now in 2009 it's all done and the park looks so beautiful and cleaner. No filthiness and pickpockets anymore. More appealing to the public and tourists.
What I like so much about the Casona is that it keeps its looks and feel of the older times. The peruvian republican times of the 1800's. The colors used are the same that were used in the late 18'th century and early 19th. The decoration, the wood structure, etc. It all blends perfectly and lends itself to be the perfect location I was looking for the interior shots of the Prefectura where Bolognesi was sending the letters to from Arica asking for help and support.

One room inside will also be the interior of the Bolognesi headquarters in Arica that is known as the Casa de la Respuesta.
I already talked with the Director of the Casona and he is very excited about my film and ready to offer help in whatever I need.

Things can't be more appealing to me now.
Seems like all the stars are aligning in my favor.

But still....need more uniforms and budget for that.
Only got 150 promised and still lacking 200 more.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Checking locations for the battle scenes

So, I went to the Morro Solar today.
The last time I went there was to do some HD camera tests last year and before that I did it way back in 1992.
This time I went all the way up to the top where the TV antennas are located. The driving to the top is a very steep, rocky and narrow dirt road that I wasn't prepared for but even when there was a straight-down abyss on one side, it was worth it....and necessary.

In my prior visit to the Historian Institute, I got a hold of some maps and topographic charts to study the terrain and choose beforehand what areas would be suitable for the battle scenes and that mimick the Arica mountain in Chile (that used to be our territory before we lost it). Shooting there would have been awesome but difficult nowadays for obvious political and territorial reasons.
So the best alternative at hand is the Morro Solar; it's here, it's close and it's very similar in shape and in height.
To help myself even further I checked with Google Earth. Awesome tool for previewing land and altitude of any place and from anywhere in the world.

In this pic, down in the beach below, I'll be placing digitally the city of Arica when seen from up above. Although the city is on the other side, t'll have to be flipped horizontally in post to make it happen as on the other side here it's the city of Lima.

Only one thing to keep in mind is that I'll have to plan my shots right, for in the opposite side I can see the TV antennas in frame. If there was another closer similar location it would be easier but, to transport hundreds of extras to play the soldiers, plus gas expenses, equipment and logistics, etc....the budget would skyrocket.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

War uniforms

Been a while since I posted any progress. Was trying to rest and get better on some physical stuff.
I finally went today to the other place where this ORG keeps the uniforms found on site. They scanned the whole terrain of the war zone with archeologists and metal detectors. Set a parameter and digged carefully and found not only the props and equipment from soldiers, but also their bodies and uniforms.

Shown here are some of the most known typical uniforms of the war. It's known that usually the colors chosen reflect the ones of each country's flag. Same thing here but the similitude I'm sure created some confusion that during the battle must have caused quite a stir and fatal errors in the craziness and adrenaline of the moment. Peruvian officers used the Prussian style of the era like this which I'm glad to have now at my disposal for the film. Here they are displayed on manequins so they can be appreciated at full:

Now, the peruvian soldiers mostly used creamy white uniforms with black shoes as you can see here (it is heavily dirty with soil and dried blood from the soldier):

Now this is the chilean soldier's uniform. Notice the similar colors with the peruvian officers (deep blue jacket and red pants). They didn't use high black boots though but khaki/brown colored ones.

The hats (kepis) will use the same shape of the Civil War soldiers; a flat foward-inclined top.

Now my next step is to do a walk-thru of the location I chose for the battle scenes: the Morro Solar by Chorrillos. Taking pics and studying maps to check the terrain and altitude beforehand.