93 Miles

The Short Film

7/7/2017 - POST PRODUCTION

      The production has ended this week, and we have moved onto post-production. With many bumps in the road, our team kept moving along, making this a successful production. As editing, music, sound, and coloring moves along, Noah will try to keep everyone updated during these steps. The film will be ready for the 2018 film festival circuit.

Here are a few stills from the film (not in their final color). 

 

6/13/2017 - LESS THAN 2 WEEKS fROM PRODUCTION!

      A short update in these busy times. With less than 2 weeks until production kicks off, the team has been assembled. The 4 leading characters are casted, an assistant director has been added to the crew to help with the Spanish dialog, and this AD is now being credited as an associate producer with all the help she has been providing in San Diego. Our composers are working away on samples to pitch to Noah, once we get to post-production. This film will be finished in the Fall and ready for the 2018-19 Festival circuit.

 

      Here is another article, by CNN, that has been brought to my attention by a friend: 

CNN–MLB accused of ignoring Cuban baseball player smuggling

"Major League Baseball knows -- and ignores -- how Cuban players are preyed upon by a violent criminal underworld that smuggles them to professional teams, according to several lawyers who have investigated this black market."   -Jose Pagliery and Ahiza Garcia

 

5/27/2017 - sebastian

      Production is now written down in the calendar for late June. We also have a Sebastian, the lead antagonist of 93 Miles. He will be played by George Capacete. You can read more about him here.

      If you want to look more into the story of 93 Miles. A good documented video was posted in 2015, by Bloomberg. You can watch it below!

 

5/5/2017 - Funded!

      We are officially funded via Kickstarter! Thank you who have helped to reach the goal! It means so much to me to know I have so much support on this project! 

      About 2 years and 1 month ago, I typed in the title on the front page my feature script: ‘93 Miles’. 93 Miles was the precise distance between Cuba and Florida’s coastlines. The popular phrase says 90 Miles, but in 2015, when searching for the exact distance, I found roughly 93. Now I am seeing 100+ as the exact distance when googling it. Nevertheless the title was stamped onto the front of the script and has been carried with me for years. As of yesterday, I am officially able to put the short-form of this film into production, all because of those who supported me. According to the Kickstarter, 131 supporters (and counting) to be exact. Many were pushing me to do something more affordable and local, but I came to Emerson to make something bigger than a local film. I came to learn how to write better, to direct actors, to direct crew, to further my understandings with cameras and lighting, and to put meaning into a narrative.

      In 2014, 93 Miles started just because I wanted to make a baseball film, but not the same old Kevin Costner baseball film, a baseball film that holds a current issue—a message. My brother, Joshua sent me an article back in 2014 that sparked my interest into the Cuban defection process in baseball. I was amazed that I hadn’t known about this before, growing up in a baseball loving family. My mom (Janet) took my brother and I to well over 20 games in about 10 different stadiums. One vacation even being up to Chicago just to see the season-opening series between the Cubs and Cardinals, where we were wrapped in layers upon layers of blankets, our eyes being the only thing exposed to the cold Windy City. We live in Illinois, and the only other time in Chicago, she took us to two games: one Cubs game and one White Sox game. Let’s just say baseball has been stamped in me since a child. And as one who grew up loving baseball, I never even knew about the heart-breaking stories of these Cuban baseball players trying to make it into the MLB. I am making 93 Miles to help share those stories, to show how our feud with another’s government can affect its citizens and their dreams to have the same privilege as any of us who are living in the US. Just on Vice last week, they shared a story about how we are just now receiving a medicine that relieves, and almost vaporizes lung cancer. Where is this medicine coming from? Cuba. A feud that sparked up in the early 60’s has kept almost anything and everything from moving between the two countries that sit only 90 miles apart from each other. This is the message I want to tell, and I want to tell it through what I know: baseball.

      Thank you everyone for your support! We still have 60+ hours to go with the campaign! Until Sunday night at Midnight, to be exact. Please keep supporting and sharing, so we can hit the extended goal, which will allow for us to film a night scene on a boat, carrying our characters into their new lives.

 The Instagram post from March 31, 2015. 

The Instagram post from March 31, 2015. 

 

3/22/2017 - Pre-production

      It’s been some time. Thought I would find more time to write here. Been focused on this thesis film, keeping it moving along. Tons of work has been going into it, past the film side. The education side of this film -- proposal and paperwork -- have been taking a long hold of my attention as well.

      Now that the crowdfunding is about to go live, I have been working on rewards for funding. The reason why I pushed the crowdfunding back so long was that I can’t actually make the film without it. So, I need it to be perfect. I want Miguel and Emma to be casted, and I am very picky on these two characters. They have to be Cuban or of Cuban descent, Miguel has to look like a world class athlete, and they have to be good. I really want professional actors for this film. I put out an ad on backstage.com, as well as facebook casting groups. I’ve received well over 350 applicants and narrowing them down to the perfect bunch was actually not extremely hard. I knew what I wanted and I found a handful of some of the most talented actors who met the criteria. Emma is actually still in the works, but I have three great actresses who are really good from what I’ve seen. I sent out monologues from Before Sunset to see how they would perform in a similar fashion. I gave them the words of Linklater, but put them in the same situation 93 Miles will have them in. With 93 Miles not having any dialog monologues, I needed a script that would show me how they could perform.

      Wait for the kickstarter to hear these actors’ names and their bios.  

 

10/14/2016 - Luis the taxi driver

  -Luis sits at the gate of Fusterlandia.

-Luis sits at the gate of Fusterlandia.

      While in Cuba, I met a few people that shared their stories with me. I am going to share a few of their stories over the course of the next few months.

      Today, I wanted to start with Luis Delgado. Luis was the most genuinely nice and most down to earth man I met in Cuba.

      After several trips via taxi from my apartment in la Habana (near Melia Cohiba) into Old Havana, I decided to just relax on the curb and see what taxi driver walks by and offers the best deal. The usual trip was around $10. The same distance would be $25 in Boston. This was about the 4th day in of the 15 days in Cuba. So sitting on the side of the road where many taxi drivers usually hang out and offer their service, this older man in his late 60’s, who for some reason resembles the director Danny Boyle to me, came and sat next to me. He asked if I needed a taxi, speaking very well in English. I replied “How much to Old Havana”. He offered to take me for $6. Without any negotiating, I agreed. In the 10 to 15 minute ride, I started to talk to him and learned about his story. He was very open about himself and his family. He loves his children and grandchildren so much, and is very proud of them. His son is in Miami, with a law degree out of la Habana. His son’s law degree didn’t transfer smoothly into the States, so he is working for a freezer company in Miami for the time being, deciding whether to go back to school or just keep working. An honest decision with the price of education in the States. Cuba’s education is free.

      After this first ride, I decided to keep Luis’ card and contact him for rides. He told me he worked 9-5, Monday through Friday. His wife also has the same schedule as a telemarketer; both working in their late 60’s. I later decided to get a tour of the country-side by Luis, who drove half way to Matanzas and back. He was afraid his car would break down if he drove too far. Like most cars in Cuba, his was a 50’s model--an European model. Every time I got out and walked around, he’d just hang out by the car and wait for me. His rides were always very cheap and he was always honest. A half day, from 9am to 3pm would be $45. He even drove me through his neighborhood, just to the East of Estadio Panamericano so I could see parts of Cuba that la Habana didn’t have.

      I had already had a tour of la Habana from a tour guide named Frank. But several days in, I wanted to see more of la Habana, but not knowing where to go. So again, I hired Luis. This time, we didn’t set a price. In Cuba, you have to make a deal for your ride, before sitting in the car of they can charge you whatever they feel, but I trusted Luis and he trusted me. Luis took me to places outside of Old Habana, being that I have already spent most of my time in Old Habana. One of the stops was Fusterlandia, a neighborhood and house all turned into an art gallery by Jose Fuster. His work is amazing.

      Luis also gave me a tour of some of the richer areas, Cementerio de Colón, and a tropical forest like park called, Parque Almendares. Later, he bought me lunch from this small privately own ‘Fruit Soup’ shop out of the side of some house in la Habana. He paid, too--this was him giving me a tour of the real la Habana and still no price had been set for this tour. He also bought some food to take home to his wife. The best lemonade I had ever had, made fresh. I wish I could remember the place’s name. I mean this was a shop, where you walked up to a small apartment building’s gate and walked around back to this small kitchen in the side. Sat down in this small entrance and these two women brought out juice and pork sandwiches. After that, Luis took me back to my area. A 9 to 3 tour, had ended and I paid him, without him asking for a certain amount. It felt as he gave the tour as a friend.

      After that tour, I had only seen Luis once more. Walking past the taxi area, I saw Luis picking up a family, about to give them a ride, probably into Old Habana.

      Luis was very open about his story and his family’s story. He really struck a chord with me, mainly because of one thing--the reason he spoke English so well is that he got his PhD in engineering in Canada. The reason he is now a taxi driver is because a taxi driver working privately makes more money than someone with a PhD in Cuba. After working a third of his life to get a PhD, Luis essentially became a taxi drive in his 60’s--because it is a better paying job. 

      Medical Doctors in Cuba, working for the government make the same as the clerk selling me a Cola from the government established cafeteria across from my apartment. The idea is to make everyone equal. Like Luis said, causes their best doctors to leave Cuba for better pay in another country. This is where 93 Miles comes in. Baseball players in Cuba make around $30 a month. They play for pride in their country. So if a sports agent comes in and tells one of the ball player that they can get them a signing bonus of $20 million to play in the States, do you think the ball player would take the deal?

 

9/18/2016 - blood and sweat

      "Some worth millions of dollars in the MLB marketplace--and yet they struggle often hopelessly to purchase an extra set of footwear for a child or wife back home, to acquire a cell phone that might not even meet the needs of an average American teenage, or to purchase a beer or snack in the team's European or Asian hotel lobby."  -Peter C. Bjarkman in Cuba's Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story

      In reference to the players on Cuba's National baseball team, unable to afford things while away on tournaments in Europe and Asia. When overseas where there are malls, these world class athletes will sell the jerseys off their backs just for a cell phone or discounted athletic gear.

 

9/6/2016 - building the crew and plane tix

      These past two weeks I have been working on the aesthetics for this film. What is essentially came down to, is a contemporary feel.  Diegetically lit, Igor Martinovic being the major inspiration here. Something similar to his works on The Night Of or House of Cards. The sound will be well produced electric pads. This film takes place in 2013, a year before the first Cuban ballplayer legally signed to an MLB team. This style will help bring a sense of 'now' to this somewhat period piece. And it will help set a mood that I really want to be highlighted in this film. Daniel Lies and I were talking about the style and we were on the exact same page. After jotting down The Night Of as the major look I want to go for, he sent back his recent work-study on Igor Martinovic's work on The Night Of

      Also, the Cuba trip is scheduled now. Will be going at the end of September, for 2 weeks. This trip is scheduled to take place with the last few games of the Industriale's season, la Habana's baseball team. I will use the two weeks to study the culture and discover Miguel. 

 

8/24/2016 THE ROUGH DRAFT

      The rough draft is finally complete after several attempts. Took me the majority of the summer to write and rewrite. Could never figure out what would come next. Working off of a feature length story and then condensing a scene or 2 into a short film is not an easy thing to do. Had to figure out what really worked and what could keep an audience's attention. After structuring this short film script, now it's time to get primary feedback and rewrite it again. I am excited about the story I could make and convert into the short film format, I really hope everyone else does, too. 

      Also, Cuba is officially happening in October. I am going for 2 weeks to experience the culture, and see who Miguel is and where he comes from.

      The Kickstarter campaign is coming soon!

 

4/18/2016 The Birth of the Website

      Today, I officially made the website happen. An idea by one of my thesis committee members. This website was made to promote my soon-to-be short film. A film I have been working on for a few years now. 

      To catch you up on where we are with this project. I have been working on this film since 2013. Just as a possible concept then. In the Spring of 2014, I enrolled into a Writing the Feature class, in my graduate studies at Emerson College. I decided to start brainstorming more with this idea, after reading many articles and watching documentaries on Cuban baseball players and their stories. I ended up squeezing out 80 pages to a feature length script, in which it was not anywhere close to being finished. And after wrapping my brain around the research and Miguel's defection, I didn’t want to stop there, I couldn’t.

      Half way into the semester, Yoan Moncada was signed to a record breaking deal with the Red Sox, and becoming the first Cuban baseball to be legally signed into the MLB. I knew exactly then, this story had to be made. I then dug deeper and found these horrible stories, of these men and women leaving their families behind, players being held hostage, people being shot for coming up short; it was an ongoing story and it became way too common. These stories weren’t being made popular into the public eyes, yes we had movies like Traffic, but little to nothing on Cuban athletes. A 30-for-30, titled Brothers in Exile, brushes over the leaving behind of family and cultural shock, but little to do with the dangers of physically leaving Cuba, via boat.

      So now I am rewriting and rewriting a 15-30 minute film on a Cuban baseball player’s physical journey off the island, through Mexico. A journey that is unfortunately common for Cuban athletes.

      In the past year, I have been working with several Emerson professor, on guidance into making this film possible. I have added all three members to my thesis committee, led by Bavand Karim. A filmmaker who has much experience in humanities and social politics. Cristina Kotz Cornejo and Harlan Bosmajian have both been a tremendous help with my research and the writing process. I will now be going on a 2-3 week trip to Cuba this Fall.

      My Kickstarter will become live in the Fall of 2016, and the filming will happen in the Spring of 2017.