Juan Carlos Oganes' film-making and work blog.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Timotea Vernal in Paris

After some talks we had the God-sent opportunity to shoot in this amazing turn of the century mansion-house in the heart of Miraflores. What I loved was that all was on-site and at our disposal. Art department tasks and decoration duties were a pleasure knowing that we just could bring things from other rooms in the house to accommodate for a late 19th century dormitory and hall.

The picture frames, the windows, doors, the curtains and rugs, mirrors and beds needed to be placed in one same place to comply with the era. This scenes were of Timotea Vernal and her maid Lucrecia in Paris awaiting news of the war in Peru and also very stressed for a letter she received from Alfonso Ugarte saying practically goodbye. The actors quite delivered well their parts. It was quite a pleasure to work there for two days straight. The house is from early 20th century but still has some architecture that resembles the prior one. According to what the owner says, some rooms have some paranormal activity for many family members have passed away in them as the house has passed from generation to generation.

Reminded me of other locations we have shot in that showed some of that activity (at least to some of the crew): the Casona de San Marcos, the Morro Solar, the Alto del Alianza site and Barbones army fort. I recall a prior film I was in back in 2001 in the highlands: the scenes were to be shot at night. It was below freezing point and many accidents started to happen: one of the crew made the silly mistake of handling metal light stands without gloves and got "glued" to it; the power generator started to fail even when it was full of gas; an actress began to feel extreme cold and entering hypothermia; another crew member dropped the very important video field monitor and destroyed it in pieces, rendering everything useless for the moment and having to go back to the city to regroup, only to learn that there was an ancient Inca site nearby. The prior year 2000, I did a documentary about shamanism and psychics so some things were learned about energy and paying tribute to the mother land. So that's what we did the very next day to ask for "permission" to the spirits in the area. That night....all was perfect. So, having that in mind, at the Morro Solar, when some crew members started seeing "things" up there and all was simply going wrong after wrong, I stepped into the desert near the abyss, waited until my eyes could see in the dark and get a glimpse of the ocean below and all surroundings and "talked" with the spirits around. Spirits I'm sure of the brave soldiers that fought up there and explained this film is being done with all the respect it deserves, that it is for them and about them. Those two months we were up there weren't exempt from stressful situations but above all things went well. The same thing was done in this beautiful old house. I'm sure, the spirits of the prior owners find it quite uneasy to see many strangers getting things in and out of their former house like if they weren't there (so to speak if you know what I mean), so I also asked for permission and explained the facts of the film. Things went well thank God.

Also, being in the heart of the city and just near busy avenues, the traffic and car noises were strong in the halls scenes. The windows faced directly into a main street and had to be careful not to film buses pass behind the thin curtains. Hope I don;t have to do digital touch-ups or rotoscopy to fix it. Audio dialogue overdubs and replacements are in order when I edit these parts, though. There was no other way to avoid it.

But the scenes.....beautiful. I'm quite happy with the results.

Timotea Vernal in Paris receiving news from Peru.

Edmundo, Lucrecia and Timotea in Paris.

Moustache touch-ups. In front: Lucrecia -Timoteas personal maid.

Timotea Vernal for "Gloria del Pacifico" :)

Light: The food of all cameras.

The set. Love the results!

Guiding the mood.

Break time and script rehearsal.

Preparing the 19th century hair-do.

Even though there was no household electric power back in 1880 yet, I turned on the lights above to fill in the hall a bit. We lost four lights and needed to find a way to light things up a bit. Made sure not to point the camera much to the ceiling though.

Director's viewfinder: a nice little toy that helps. Hate to carry around the heavy camera and jib only to find that i rather place it a bit further right or left.

The dresses look just right.

Explaining intentions to the actresses.

Beautiful set.

More angle-looking activities.

Discussing lighting placement.

The script go-thru with the actresses.

Having theater experience, this is Carlos' first film. Glad to have him on board.

Careful intention-seeking guidelines.

Timotea Vernal and Lucrecia in her dormitory.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Arica for a day

These few days had to travel back to Tacna. Last time we couldn't go to Arica (60kms south and in Chile) as planned where I wanted to take all crew and extras to visit the Morro and surroundings: the real scenario where my film takes place 132 years ago. Glad to be back to this nice land. I salute all my Chilean friends who visit my blog :)

This time I had a free day to do so for I needed to take pictures of the Morro to place digitally behind the Casa de la Respuesta replica we already filmed at the Real Felipe fortress some months ago. Usually, the Morro pictures we find online show the side where you can see the abyss from the old Aduana (customs) office. That is its best angle but from the Casa de la Respuesta you see a side view not often portrayed in postcards or online. So this was my duty.

Went with one of my fellow friend and actor who lives in Tacna and met with another friend of mine who lives in Arica. He was onsite during filming the first battle scene there and I'm glad he was entertained by the scope of the event. We borrowed a van and went to see some sites -apart from the mentioned duty- that correspond to some of the scenarios pictured in the film: the Chacalluta and Lluta valley and its river mouth and wetlands where Peruvian engineer Teodoro Elmore tried to blast the chilean Carabineros de Yungay regiment, got captured and was made to talk near the vicinity of the USS Wateree boilers (destroyed during the 1868 earthquake and tsunami that struck Arica); also went some kilometers inside the back valley of Azapa to see if there were any remains of the chilean spy during the war Carlos Weguelin's hacienda (country house). All we could find was the place where it used to be but now another newer country house was in its place made by his great-grandson Hugo Mozo (as my Arica friend Tomas confirms so). Went to the two  Peruvian fortresses at the back east side of the Morro: the Ciudadela and East fortresses. All that remains are the trenches built by our soldiers and we could crearly see the wider sections where the Parrot and Voruz cannons were placed. Too bad to see much of the trenches were filled with litter, garbage and human feces. Knowing hundreds of heroic soldeirs died in that place was an overwhelming sensation and the gap where the santabarbara (powder and ammunition storage place) was located showed sign of being badly destroyed. Im sure it was because of Alfredo Maldonado's detonation of it. The thing that gave me satisfaction was that the trenches we built in Lima at Puente Piedra/Ancon's location back in April/May looks very similar. We tried to replicate it as faithful as possible.

The surroundings are already populated by young shanty towns and neighborhoods. Ironic how they are practically living just on the battle field where hundreds and hundreds died in a horrible way. I'm sure they must have much paranormal activity stories to tell.

At downtown Arica I also went to its famous church made entirely of metal and desgined by Eiffel itself. The stone steps leading up to it are the actual ones that were during the war and still show the bullet hits where many male civilians were shot  by the chilean troops as they sieged the city after taking the morro.

It was nice to go back to Arica after 7 years. Back in 2005 I was here also with Tomas during my historical research for this film, my new big baby: "Gloria del Pacifico".

Amazing how this baby has grown from being an idea in my mind and on paper to a thing so huge in scope and size that it puts such a responsability over my shoulders because of its national importance and also fills my heart with such joy of seeing a dream of years finally come true.

We are getting close to completion. So many stories, so much anecdotes, so much to thank the Lord above. :)

The USS Wateree boilers.

Amazing how a tsunami can destroy such a strong iron ship. Nature's force is inmense.
Driving in the Azapa valley in search of the former Carlos Weguelin's hacienda.

The Hugo Mozo hacienda in Azapa: Carlos Weguelin descendant as I was told.

The past and present.

Picture of the era: chilean troops in Arica.

At the Morro museum site.

Chilena army plaque conmemorating our national hero Francisco Bolognesi. Nice gesture.

The Alacran island (now isthmus) and next to it the site where the Manco Capac Peruvian ship was sank.

The Arica bay. Further into the picture, the chilean Cochrane fired at the morro.

The Krupp cannons. Silent witnesses of the battle.
At the trenches of the Peruvian East fortress.

From the Este fortress, the soldiers saw the 4to de Linea Chilean battalion coming close.
The Ciudadela Peruvian fort trenches.
The view from the Ciudadela trenches. The 3ro de Linea came this way.
The Ciudadela's santabarbara (powder and ammo storage).
One can see clearly the where the cannons were placed.
Amazed to be back in this historic place.

...and with the company of my good friends Gato and Tomas :)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Civilian scenes now starting: Timotea Vernal

I haven't been posting as often as I used to these weeks for the loss we had surely gets to our emotions. At least I can say for sure of myself but, as others say, the show must go on.

We had a chance to go back to filming in a prior location we did early 2011: the Casona de San Marcos. This time was for some short scenes of Timotea Vernal meeting with Alfonso Ugarte in a garden plaza. We had for ourselves just Sunday and according to what we were told, the whole day was gonna be quiet and no public was to be present. Glad we started somewhat early for the last takes were a bit noisy thank to hundreds of people going in and out. Being a cultural center, it is always a place for dance shows, folk events and else. That very Sunday, after lunch time, little by little, masses of young poeple and audience began to fill the whole place, forcing us to ask for quietness during takes. It was a hassle, but the shots for beautiful. Maybe some takes I'll have to overdub and do some dialogue replacement.

Having finalized all battle scenes, this was the official start of the civilian scene parts of the film. The very last scenes of the whole project. Still many to do but we are almost close to completion.