Interview with Filmmaker Eduardo Letamendi (EMBLEM)

EMBLEM was the winner of BEST SOUND & MUSIC at the December 2020 Crime/Mystery Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I wanted to work on my craft as a Director and Direct an action short film to add to my real. I also wanted to demonstrate that I can direct action films. Up to that point I only directed dramatic projects.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

From the first spark of the idea to the finish product about 12 years. However, from pen to screen for this version of the story about six years.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Visually captivating.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Coming up with the money to go into production. Also trimming down the stunt choreography budget to make it more affordable without jeopardizing the story.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

Pleasantly surprised at the level of insight people had about a little story I had a hand in creating. Grateful the audience enjoyed watching it and very inspired to pursue expanding the story based on the positive reactions.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

The idea for Emblem came from the trial run of a 48-hour film challenge the NALIP Chicago chapter was testing back in 2007. Since we had a small group participating, we decided to produce one short film for the challenge. We use the cards from the Lotería game to help brain storm the theme and elements that we were going to use to tell the story. The cards we drew were La Estrella (a star), La bottella (the bottle) and, La mano (the hand). We associated the star with the North Star, which became the nativity scene that lead to the idea of a pregnant women carrying a special baby. The bottle represented pills and the hand became theft. I volunteered to write and direct the project. Going into that night I knew that if I was selected to write, the story was going to center around a female assassin/hero that would have to fight off several other assassins to complete a mission. I knew that I could adapt that idea with whatever elements were thrown at me that night.

The original story, titled La Estrella, was about two members of a secret underground pharmaceutical distribution ring that fall in love and decide to leave the organization for love and the safety of their unborn child. To buy their way to freedom they steal a package of pills from the organization. However, the organization discovers their plans and sends out two sets of assassins to eliminate them and retrieve the unborn child. I couldn’t direct because I had to work on the one day of production, so another member directed it. We completed a 10-minute short in a couple of days. That was pretty good considering the time constraints, however, I felt the director missed a few very important subtle beats that added more of a twist to the story. Afterwards I felt I could improve on the idea and began to develop what became Emblem. A story about a genetically enhanced Latina soldier that is dispatched on a mission to retrieve a package she discovers is an unborn child. The themes that Emblem explores are loyalty, family, and trust.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Probably Star Wars.

8. You submitted to the festival via Film Freeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It’s nice to have one place to go to search for film festivals, upload all the information about your film along with the project, and submit. I remember having to look for flyers about film festivals at school, having to fill out a paper application for each one, mailing the application and other materials along with a screener. Now with a platform like film freeway it’s all streamlined and easier to get more eyeballs on your project.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Keep on Running by Journey.

10. What is next for you?

I’d like to shoot a 5 to 10-minute spin off short of Emblem with the character of Chino and a new super soldier character from the Haven facility. Something I can shoot early next year and turn around as soon as possible. Just to work on my craft and get more content out.

A new film? On the development side I’m working on a feature script about a fictional baseball family. I’m also developing Emblem as a feature.

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