El Empantanado Filmmakers on the Miami Film Industry, Not Having Killed and/or Slept With Each Other
|Felipe Echavarria & Maggie Drayton|
If it sounds like an only-in-Miami story, that's because it is; El Empantanado (The Muddy) is the first film by Miami filmmakers Maggie Drayton and Felipe Echavarria. It was shot almost entirely in South Florida with South Florida crews and is one of 10 projects to be selected for this year's Independent Filmmaker Project's Filmmaker Lab program.
The labs, which connect filmmakers with seasoned mentors in the film industry, can be the difference between a film reaching a wide audience and being forgotten amidst the glut of the hundreds of independent features made each year.
And given that they are first-time filmmakers, they needed to make the most of their resources. "One of the resources was the landscape," Echavarria says. "South Florida has this amazing landscape that isn't really being portrayed in the media. With CSI and Dexter, it's all about the city and violence and drugs. Nobody is talking about the non-party aspect or the nature.
"So that was what led us to find the concept in which the film was going to live. And then, I am Colombian and I decided I'm going to tell a story that holds true to my roots but doesn't depend on violence to connect to that. I knew I wasn't going to talk about drugs or about an immigrant who was coming in illegally to the United States. I wanted to show a different aspect of the Colombians who have assimilated into a culture."
What resulted is the story of two best friends, one American and one Colombian, not unlike Drayton and Echavarria. Though Echavarria says, "I should note that unlike the characters in the film, we haven't tried to kill each other or sleep with the same person."
Drayton and Echavarria now estimate the film as being 85 percent complete, with another sequence to be shot each in Colombia and South Florida in the coming months. Their aim is to finish El Empantanado by September and submit for the major film festivals taking place in early 2013.