By: Gerry Maravilla @
Every filmmaker I know has a Google doc or notebook where they list their movie ideas and I’m no different. Whether I’m stuck in traffic, out on a run, or drifting in and out of that weird head space before I fall asleep, I never know when a moment of inspiration is going to strike. However, regardless of how many ideas come to me, I’ve found it’s only the ones that I fall in love with that end up becoming completed films.
While I could definitely choose to beat myself up over a perceived lack of productivity, the truth is movies require not only a lot of hard work, but also a lot of resources. These resources range from the cast and crew, to the equipment, the sets, the food and all the time it takes to complete even just one short.
As a filmmaker wanting to bring my craft and my career to the next level, I sought a project that felt worthy of devoting my time and money to, as well as the time and money of others. My latest short film, “Cross”, ended up being that project.
“Cross” is the story of a young Filipino-American man who enters the world of backyard boxing in order to support his sick mother. The idea came to me after snapping a photo of my two friends sparring in the backyard. It lived on a Google Doc for many months until it kept creeping into my brain. Finally, I just decided to write the script. I completed the first draft back in 2012, but I couldn’t stop writing. What started as a short ended up being a 100+ page feature.
I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and found myself doing everything I could to get this story told. Whether or not I was able to articulate it in those early stages, the story connected with something inside of me in a deep way. The script’s themes of trying to balance responsibilities to your family, passions and culture, as well as its focus on telling underrepresented stories and its connection to the people and place I grew up around, made me believe that this was a story I had to tell. I’d look for something small I could accomplish everyday that would bring me closer to make this film a reality.
After many months of research and outreach, I decided to create a short film that would act as a proof of concept for the feature idea. However, I knew that this would require a larger budget and crew than I’d ever worked with before and there was so rich dentist uncle I could reach out to fund this dream. The idea of crowdfunding terrified me for the risk of potential public failure, but after exhausting every other resource I learned that it was the only way I was going to get this project off the ground. I launched a crowdfunding campaign on Seed&Spark in 2014 to get the money I needed to make this story come to life.
I felt that I had mentally and emotionally prepared for the challenges of a film shoot, but crowdfunding was demanding in a whole different way. While difficult, I discovered that my passion to tell this story continued to push me through every obstacle in my way. At the end of our 30-day campaign me and my team had raised the $15,000 to bring this story to life.
In 2015, three years after I wrote the script, the short version of “Cross” was finally completed and premiered at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. It continues to play at festivals across the country as I work towards taking the next steps to make the feature script happen.
The process of trying to get this movie made has taught me that choosing a film project is like choosing a romantic partner. You have to find the story that you love, the story that you will fight for, the story that will push you outside of your comfort zone, the story that you are okay with feeling all of life’s extreme highs and lows. It’s the stories you that love that will develop your unique artistic voice and bring your craft, as well as your career, to the next level.