Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

More civilian wardrobe and buttons

Damn..the box was heavy!
Brought home today more civilians wardrobe, mades and extras.
Took some pics but I'm late and need to rush to the workshop to keep working on the uniforms.

Last night brought home 130 more finished Chilean soldier jackets. Each Chilean soldier wears up to 16 buttons so I had to get 4800 for the three hundred remaining.
Never thought Id have so many in my hand together.

Posted pics of civilian wardrobe I had ready months ago and with this I'm covering for about 25 of them. I'll just have to double the use of these items between takes and exchange among actors. Maybe a dozen more and I'll be fine.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More location scouting: Quinta Heeren

As I have stated before, the filming deadline is approaching and some stuff still needs to be done.
The stress kicks in so much that its affecting my stomach and my nerves. Praying and meditation does a good job at calming me but I know myself and only having all things ready will make it go away for good.

Last night couldn't sleep well thinking of old streets needed for some scenes in my script. The ones I found at Callao and Barranco don't make it fully for only angles are useful and the rest has been touched much by modernity. I took a small drive-trip out of Lima to the nearest sierra towns and they kinda work but still...don't cut the part.

I then recalled a place that has been used a few times years ago as locations for Peruvian period soap-operas and googled Quinta Heeren. Watched the results and pics and it clicked for me.
I thought I finally found the location I needed. I had to go there so without any sleep, as the first rays of light entered my window, changed clothes and drove to Barrios Altos neighborhood where it is located. I know its not a nice part of town (actually pretty dangerous) but took measures by taking along a good friend of mine to tag along. Early riser he is so, he was up to it.

This is what I found. This place is "the" place!!

Oskar Heeren came to Peru almost 200 years ago and built this place with an XIX century European style not knowing it would become one of the most beautiful and peaceful places in the outskirts of Lima (at the time) where much of the high-society people of the era would show up and frequent. Now, a couple centuries later it still keeps the beauty of a long gone past of poetry and romanticism and is guarded by a nice guy who is the caretaker working under a manager hired by the descendants of the Leguia family as I was told (the former president resided there for a time). An old, rusty gate keep strangers from coming in the neighborhood easily. Just four families still live here and the rest of the houses are abandoned.

To me this place is like a time-machine with only a few snippets here and there that give away we are in the 21rst century (car horns far away, water hoses, a couple parked cars and a few modern street lights that clash with the beautiful old ones still standing there but that don't work anymore) but definitely this place is like an oasis lost in the middle of one of the dangerous places in Lima surrounded by thieves and junkies.

I just hope no government or any stupid-ass business guy with power and money tries to demolish this place to make buildings or something. If that ever happens, we Peruvians would be committing historical suicide. I'm sure I'm not alone on this thinking.

Places like this should exist forever.

Uniforms almost done

Uniform making process is almost complete. One more week aprox and it's all done.
Still I need to have 500 soldier hats made in no time. Filming date approaching.

A word to all readers / Una palabra para los lectores

I would like to say this to all readers of my blog.

First of all I would like to say thank you. Thank you for being interested in my work and in my progress about my dreams and rants here and there spread all over the page.

As you may have noticed -if you have followed me since some years ago- my blog lately for the past 11 months have been about my film project that I'm about to begin in some weeks: the Battle of Arica.

Many that know me personally and have worked close with me in other projects for the past 6 years know my intention of making a film of this theme for quite some time now. It is not an improvised project nor is it a reply to any other film. It is solely a project of mine coming true at this specific time.

Having this clear, for all readers here in Peru as also in Chile (which I now know are reading this too and some even write nice letters to my inbox), I want to say these statements to all others who might wonder a few things. Here are the facts to know:

- This film is a personal project and it was began as a personal dream.
- This film is not sponsored, nor promoted by any government institution. It is totally an independent film production of mine and my audiovisual company.
- This film is not funded by any government or private institution. I am funding it with my own money and savings.
- This film is based on historical facts that really happened and that I have researched with fellow historians and people interested in history here in Peru and in Chile as also in my own personal research for the past 6 years to make it as accurate as possible, be it in facts and also in uniform making.
- This film is intended to show the HUMAN side of all the people involved in the battle of Arica. All those human beings that defended their land and ideas of the time and fought for them. Actions that eventually made them heroes of their own country. It is not to promote hate nor spoil any relations we have as fellow countries. I know it has been a difficult time for us both since 130 years ago but I am just making this film because I love history and I love bravery...be it from my own country or another. It doesnt matter to me from where. I get excited watching films like Braveheart, Spartaco, Glory or Gettysburg. I'm not from the US or from England where those ones are based on, but I love those movies and how people gave their lives to defend their ideals. Peru and Chile made what they believed in and normal people did brave things that eventually made them heroes.

I say this statements because it is important to know that even thought a war is a sensitive subject, it is not done by any government or anyone involved with them nor is it done with any intention to promote more war or things like that. It is just made because of reasons stated above and made by a normal citizen like me who as a citizen has a right to do his/her own dream.

I just had a phone talk with a friend of mine in Chile (in Arica) that I visited a few years ago while doing my research. He is excited to know that what was just plain talks back then in 2005, now -years later- is a reality.

So again...for all the readers out there who don't know more personal details of my project, this is what pushed me, just plain and simple: a dream of mine coming true about heroic events of our nation.

Because it is only human what people do every day to make a living, but it's divine what people do to defend life in general, even at their own life risk like policemen, firefighters or the normal guy/girl out there that does outstanding things. And that is what turns normal people into heroes.

A warm salute to all my fellow friends in Chile and in Peru.

Navy hat prototype

Now, having all the 36 out of 40 hats almost ready, got the prototype of the navy ones made yesterday.
It does look similar to the one shown in the Naval Museum so far. I spent the whole night working on it and putting on the adornments until it looked fine. I probably need a little sleep after this job as my weird drowsy face probably shows.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Timotea Vernal

Met tonight with Paloma Yerovi thanks to a common friend who introduced me to her while doing the casting for the few female roles my film has.

I want her to play Timotea Vernal, Alfonso Ugarte's fiancee and love interest. As history tells, they were supposed to get married but he decided to stay in Peru while sending her to Europe fleeing from the war.
He wrote her a heartbreaking letter days before he died stating how destiny was delaying his promise to come back alive as he knew the end was close and probably wouldn't make it.

Touching indeed.

Can't seem to find an online picture of Timotea. Have it only in print. I'll post it as soon as I have it scanned.

Lima in 1937!

Another off-topic regarding my film. I just had to post this!
Found an awesome video of Lima made by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1937 as part of his show TravelTalks. It showcases some scenarios of Lima and the provinces of Peru.

Wish I had a time machine to travel to those times and enjoy how Lima was in those days. Now, many parts keep the same beauty as before, but one thing is simply horrible lately: some people in power allow other people with money to destroy and demolish old and historical buildings to simply make buildings or markets.

A total insult and blow to our history and a complete lack of respect for our past. The past that made us be what we are today.

Here is the lovely video.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The interview...again

Here it is again as asked thru emails. The newspaper interview a bit ago.

Friday, August 6, 2010

200 more Peruvian uniforms

I ordered more Peruvian uniforms to be made. So far, there are 180 already and 200 in process.
Because the load of work is really heavy at the workshop I sent 200 Bolivian uniforms to be made elsewhere. I'm making uniforms of the Sucre Battalion (colored yellow) and famous "Colorados" (n wearing red) that I will show in my next post.

Here I just show the Peruvian ones.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Putting details on the hats

It is definitely a tiresome process. Doing it one by one knowing its dozens of them is certainly a painstaking job but I have to admit I feel like each one has a touch of one's dream into it.

Just like Geppetto putting every wooden piece in Pinocchio's body, doing this requires a lot of patience but I'm glad to do it myself.
The body of the hat is given to me by the hat-maker (who actually took quite a while to get it right. The first tests were somewhat odd up until the 3rd one where he hit the spot) and only plain for each hat with adornments costs a lot so I chose to put the adornments myself and save some money.

These one's are the Peruvian army officers' hats. Soon, I'll be given the Navy officer's. The Chilean one's are already done as I show 2 posts back testing Baquedano and Lagos' uniforms.

The time for making all these items and uniforms is taking quite longer than expected. I'm getting really stressed out as time is running out quickly.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The dream - the Reality

This single post is simply to make a personal statement about this film project.
First of all, I can't thank enough the wonderful words of praise and support for my film in forums and in person. I'm glad to know many people not only hold great respect for the topic in play but also for the importance of having one made.

I want to share some insight and emotions regarding this project of mine.

This idea of making a film about the Pacific War started many years ago. 6 years actually to be precise.
I remember watching on TV those documentaries back in the 80's about that war and it got my full attention always not only because I lived for many years in those areas where the bulk of the battles happened, but also because of the extreme sense of sacrifice and integrity a human being can develop or show in those extreme situations where your dignity and your nation's dignity is at stake.

That is what made me fall in love with that topic.

Now, fast forward to 2003/2004.
I felt back in those years that the time had come for me to make something about it. For many decades it became a dream of mine, a life dream of mine to make something about that topic. And it was time to start working on it.

Back then I recently emerged from a bad situation with a fellow friend who did the unthinkable to me: steal a project of mine. Specially when I helped him get his first big project together and earn appraisal and awards in a film festival. Being usually an open-giver, I felt betrayed by that attitude by someone I thought of as a friend and who knew since 2001 that I was gonna make a film (another topic different than this war one). So...after that -and knowing how this film field is in Peru, full of many envious people- I became extremely protective of my work for it takes years of hard endurance to make a film. So, I kept this new film project secret and showed it only to a few selected ones.
Now, since 2004, I started working on this Pacific War project with deep research into the era, the customs, the wardrobe, the reasons of the war, the political situations that happened during it and after and the personal reasons and feelings of those Peruvians who later -because of their highly attitudes- became our nation's heroes.

Learning into the back story of those soldiers/human beings was an amazing classroom of dignity learning and what sacrifices were done in order to defend what you believe in.
That was what became the pillar, the backbone of my film.

So now, after almost 6 years of research in the battle scenarios in Tacna and Arica, I decided to narrow it down to the cover this time only the Battle of Arica, one of the most remembered for showing the extreme heroism of the one's involved: Bolognesi, Ugarte, Zavala, Arias y Araguez, Saenz Peña, Cornejo, etc. The things I learned about them made me simply fall in love back with my nation: Peru.

I had to narrow it to that battle only for, having to cover the whole 4 years of war from 1879 to 1883 would imply a huge budget I don't have (I'm making this film without any help from financial backers or money sponsors but just my own pocket and ingenious resources).

Back in September 2009 I formally closed research stage, pulled strength from nowhere and started pre-production of my film and get all the things necessary together to make this dream of mine of many years possible.
I knocked on the Army's door for old guns and cannons support and it was a huge steep road uphill for I encountered a few people inside that didn't get the importance of it and asked me indirectly fro bribes and all and when I didn't follow thru with that crap (I don't do bribes), they badmouthed me with the ones who were in charge of giving me the green light. It took months until finally -with the help of some officers inside who really did have the vision that this film is important not only for the army but for the whole nation- they pulled some strings inside the Institution, talked directly with the commander-in-chief and their support was finally approved.

Same with the Navy...and same with the Police. They are on board also.

Now, after almost 11 months of pre-production and hurdles that involved the most devoted dedication I have ever given to a project of mine in almost 20 years of career, the making of almost 600 uniforms of different colors and types, and rushing / pushing myself to the point of exhaustion for being involved in all aspects be it as a gopher, wardrobe maker, driver, button knitter and as a producer itself (I don't have all the money upfront to pay extra helpers for I'm putting all the limited resources I have to what is gonna be seen in front of the camera)....I'm almost ready to begin filming.

I'm now a month away from pushing the record button and shouting "Action!".
I feel the rush and nervousness of knowing I still have some loose ends that I need to work on before starting but....it's all getting together. People are watching and I can't fail. I trust myself and that's important. This would become my 10th film I've done and been involved so far and I jump in with firm feet. But this time it's different: it's a huge project.

So now, for whomever is reading this, you might now probably know this is a dream of mine of many years come true. My new child being almost born. It has a special meaning to me for it is gonna be in a way another bigger reason to live. Another reasons to feel alive once again.
Life is full of downs and ups and I had my share of those for many years. Who doesn't anyway? Maybe some have bigger downs and ups than others but highs and lows are highs and lows anyway. I am following my own path and rebuilding my way up.

I have done my homework of researching to the core this topic and I know I am doing the right thing. I do want my fellow Peruvians to know the personal side of our heroes and fall in love with our nation once again and that is a good thing. Deep inside it is. But also I know I'm doing what I can withing my own possibilities as a professional and as a human being. And that needs to be respected.

So, for those people that I might notice envy with their observations, I say nothing but thanks.
To those who know what it takes to make a dream come true and have faced all the hurdles it takes to make it happen and say supporting things because they understand, I say THANK YOU.

For it's easy to sit back and criticize...but it takes courage and dignity to stop talking and actually do it.
I chose to DO it.
I follow my inner child and this is a play. Just a bigger and serious one.

Even though it feels like it sometimes, I know I'm not alone.
I have God above and all the good people around me that help this guy make his dream come true.

To all of you...all of you, I say God bless your heart!