Familia Ayara

Filmmaker Q&A with Directors Gonzalo Escuder and Nacho Gomez

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

GE: Not really.

NG: Charles Chaplin, John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Sergei Dvortsevoy, Gus Van Sant…and many other masters


What motivated you to make this impact video?

GE: It was commissioned to us as part of a series by the Open Society Foundations.

NG: Curiosity.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

GE: We used the GH2 with nikon prime lenses: 20, 35, 50mm. We recorded the sound with a zoom h4n.

NG: Panasonic GH1 and its different updates are very useful cameras for documentary because it provides good quality, is light, tiny and doesn’t bother too much to the people when you are filming. The nature of your project tells your camera choice.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your film to help tell your story.

GE: We just follow the people and see what they do. Try to spend as much time as possible to make them feel comfortable. And try to avoid the usual talking heads interviews to make things look more natural.

NG: It is important to find an idea or concept to follow during the shooting or have different questions that you must ask to yourself and that may or not have an answer at the end of the process.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

GE: We had no idea what the story was going to be since we didn’t know the people. We like not having preconceived notions of what the story is supposed to be like. Documentaries ought to surprise you while you film; otherwise, they will surprise no one when they watch it. Once you start filming, you do look for things trying to make something coherent. You discover something and try to follow that link. That sort of thing.

NG: I think it is my approach or what you see during the shooting that evolves, that’s why its so important to talk with your colleagues about that. Sometimes the soul of your project is behind that moment that impressed you or touches you emotionally.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film.

GE: Being in Colombia and meeting people, just anybody, is a reward in itself. It’s the most amazing country.

NG: We were filming in a juvenile facility in a very harsh neighborhood in Bogota. The people and collaborators from Familia Ayara taught those kids hip hop but what they were bringing to them was love and care. At this moment I understood how valuable their job was and encouraged me to give my best.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

GE: Allow yourself to be educated while you make your films.

NG: You need to find inside you what connects with the story you are filming.


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

GE: Listening to inspiring people, and seeing how they fight to achieve their goal. It’s just a beautiful thing to watch.

NG: I did the co-director job but for me it is necessary to see it through the camera. I’m a natural cameraman and I need to make sure that I’m explaining with images what is happening around me. The editing is the real moment of construction of a narrative and my colleague has that challenge. I like to visit him after a few months and give him my opinion because I’m fresh and ready to see it with perspective.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why?

GE: My gear and my passport? 🙂

NG: Always a pen and a sheet of paper to work in progress, to write down the main moments of the day, the best words, the images left.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this film.

GE: There isn’t one story really. What I do remember is that everyday at the end of the day we were so tired, we just wanted to rest and put the camera down, but we kept finding ourselves in the middle of another great moment. So we really couldn’t. We had so much fun.

NG: We didn’t sleep a lot… plus our jet lag, we were a couple of zombies until we got our second or third coffee. People in Bogota wake up very early, at 5 a.m., and breakfast time in our hotel was unbelievably early… I guess because traffic jams are as well unbelievable.


Can you describe any obstacles you encountered in making your film and/or in your distribution/exhibition efforts?

GE: Not really. Everything has worked great.

NG: Familia Ayara has a very good acceptance in all the festivals and we only have an obstacle with a police officer that didn’t allow us to film a conversation that was having with our main character. Was a pity! But we thought it was better to not insist.


What do you want audiences to take away from this video?

GE: First an understanding of the hip hop culture. But mostly, the beauty of fighting for a dream.

NG: To realize how far away we are from the rest of the people.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

GE: Stereotypes.

NG: Prejudices, art, education, inequality, tolerance.


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed? What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

GE: Haven’t really followed Familia Ayara for the last… 2 years! We shot this so long ago already. 🙂

NG: I’m not very optimistic. I’m a teacher and sometimes when I come into my class I see my students immersed in their mobiles instead of talking between them.


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

NG: We have plenty of opportunities in different ways. In front or behind a camera.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.) relevant to the context of the issue discussed in your video:

GE: https://www.facebook.com/fundacionayara/

NG: Watch the documentaries of Sergei Dvortsevoy, this filmmaker is a visioneer and has a very interesting way of filmmaking.



© SIMA Academy