How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer (2007): Director Georgina Riedel

Interview with Director Georgina Riedel

Inspiration Behind Film?

About three years ago, I asked my Grandmother what she wanted for Christmas. I would do this every year and every year she would never tell me anything because she didnt want to help–she wanted you to suffer. But this time, she said she wanted a car. So, I asked her again like I hadnt heard her right the first time. And again, she said she wanted a car. Well, all conversation ceases at that point because shes in her seventies and she had never driven before, doesnt own a car and it gave me the idea to write the script for the short.

Initially Short Film

The short film focused on the older couple and Dona Genoveva getting the car and learning to drive. But most of the characters that are in the film were in the short as well. It’s almost like I just shot the short and then added more to it. And naturally it allowed me an opportunity to delve into the back stories for the women who werent as developed in the short, ‘Lolita and Blanca. And not that its about me, but the film is very personal in that aspects of the story are very familiar and its set in a town that I know and I think that made it harder in a way. I usually write fast, but I think I wrote a feature script and was half way through a second script by the time I finished this one.

Which of Three Women Closest to You

Thats an unfair question. I couldnt answer that. I like them all equally. What Im hoping is that when people watch the film, they will connect with each of those women. And I had such great actors. I really enjoy working with the actors.

Experience of Directing Elizabeth Pena

Elizabeth Pena and I had one conversation prior to the start of filming and she told me how much she liked the script and no matter what happened to know that I wrote a good script–which was nice. But, beyond that, I didnt talk with her again, or get a chance to meet her. So, when she walked off the plane it was really surreal. And then I picked up America at the airport and I had previously met with her a couple of times to discuss the character, so I already felt connected to her.

Writing, Directing, Co-producing?

I actually was less active on the daily cleaning up of my set afterwards, on this film than what I was used to. But the budget meetings would be brutal youd spend three hours talking just to get to the point that you didnt have that much money to do what you needed to do the next day. I would not recommend ever doing any sort of budget meetings after a day of filming especially when youre running out of money.

Shooting the Film

We shot on 35mm. We did two budgets one to shoot on 35mm and the other to blow it up afterwards, and since we knew we would probably have to find money to complete it later anyway, we decided that by shooting on 35 we would at least have the negative.

Principal photography

24 days.

Somerton, Arizona

It was almost as if I didnt choose to shoot there, rather that it chose us. Its this place that at first glance would seem like theres nothing to it, that nothing happens there, but when you really look at it, theres real beauty to that town. And that was a challenge to find a way to capture what is special about that place, when it maybe isnt readily apparent. And I sincerely looked at it like Somerton was the fourth major character after the women.

Experience before Garcia Girls?

I studied film at the University of Arizona as an undergrad, left school knowing I was nowhere ready to do a feature and I had always wanted to get my masters. So, I then studied at the American Film Institute. I had made a bunch of short films and reached a point where there was no point to making another short film. I think you want to wait for the moment where someone says to you, Youre brilliant! Go make this film! But no one ever says that to you. So you have to just say to yourself, Im going to make this. And if youre sure about it and passionate then people will respond, and eventually want to become a part of that. At least, thats been my experience.

Influences as filmmaker: Godard, Breillat

Let me tell you what I like, since I think what you like is what ultimately influences you. I love Godard. He’s the one who made me want to make films. All of Catherine Breillat’s early stuff the way she deals with feminine issues, Bunuel there are a lot of people that I admire. Filmmakers like Godard and Bunuel what they did was so amazing, so unique. Just the idea of trying to emulate that is not even worth it. So, even though these are the types of films that I like to watch, I dont want to try to make films like that. I mean, I have this respect and appreciation for what they have done, but I dont want to try to make a French New Wave movie because that was already done so brilliantly in the 60s. So why try to do that. I would rather try to make my own stuff and try to become better at what I like to do.

Q: Do you think that is a common thread among filmmakers when they begin

Waiting for that booming voice from the heavens to say, Were going to make this film and then realizing that its actually your voice (though maybe, not so booming) that says it Yes. As in our case, we were trying to do something really big for very little and I take leaps of faith all the time and sometimes Ill be surprised by the result but more often than not I’m not surprised at all. Our first week of filming was difficult because it was going slower than expected and certainly slower than we hoped and there was a moment where the crew was less than confident in what we were doing, lets say. And we, the DP and I, had to talk to them as a group and let them know that we were aware of the problems but they also hadnt seen the best of us. They stuck with us and it all turned around very quickly.

Call herself a Director

I still feel odd about that. I always felt that, Well, by my third feature Ill have earned the right to call myself a director. But I still dont know when that moment will happen.

Its coming closer, though, now that I am on the verge of finishing this print for Sundance, and just the amazing amount of work that has gone on into finishing it, yeah, maybe I am closer to being able to say that.

Real Women Have Curves, Raising Victor Vargas–American Latino Film Movement

I think theyve been saying that since La Bamba. And it never really happens. And it should. They talk about how the Latino population is growing and how it makes up a certain percentage of the film going publics spending money and what that means. And its not like I dont think it should. Its simply that I dont think it should be an issue by this point. When people do discuss it, its always in terms of a wave of Latin films. I mean, if there is a wave, it shouldn’t be a wave. It should be a steady stream of work and I hope to be a part of it. Latin movies should always be there. But, well see. It just seems like one movie does really well and then theres like this dearth of projects again. Then a movie like Y Tu Mama Tambien comes along and it all starts up again. So I wouldnt want Garcia Girls to be a part of some trumped up Latin movement, I want Latin movies to always be there in the first place.