Interview with Alfredo De Villa

Alfredo De Villa is the director of “Harlistas: An American Journey” which premiers on the Mundose network Friday, May 27th. Alfredo took time out of his busy schedule to talk with about the film as well as his upcoming film release “Fugly!” which stars John Leguizamo.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind “Harlistas: An American Journey”?
Alfredo De Villa: I am primarily a fiction film director and this idea really started during the shooting of my last movie in 2008. I was doing research for set designs by going to different people’s homes. During these trips, I really saw how people lived and I found it very interesting. This was where everything really started but I knew I would need another point of connection. I chose motorcycles because I found that when someone decides to start riding a motorcycle it can often times bring about a lot of consequences. As a filmmaker this brings drama. The way I got into Harley’s is because of the mystique that surrounds the brand. It’s a brand that is very American and I just thought this would be a fantastic addition to the film.

AL: Are you a rider yourself?
ADV: I was not. I was solely coming from the story telling point of view. However once I started to get into the motorcycle world I started riding to help get the sense of what it was that I was talking about.

AL: What do you think was the most exciting thing to happen on your journey of shooting?
ADV: For me I think I would have to say that when I started shooting often times the scenes would turn into something far richer than I had originally envisioned and I really enjoyed that. The other thing I liked was getting to go to so many iconic places across North America and meeting the people who are very in trenched in each of the places I visited.

AL: How long did the project take to put together from start to finish?
ADV: The project took two and a half years. I actually am still cutting a version of the film that is going to be shown in Cuba in the coming months.

AL: What were the primary difficulties you found from directing features compared to documentary?
ADV: There were a lot of obstacles that I had to overcome. I had to really learn how to allow reality to change the material. When you are shooting fiction you can dictate what happens when and where you need that specific thing to occur. In reality you can’t force things and you have to really just let things happen as the happen. This was really the biggest challenge. I also found that shooting a documentary strengthened my listening skills. The way people reveal themselves is through talking. It’s something you can’t force and you just have to let the person talk and unfold at their own pace.

AL: Can you tell us about your work on “Fugly!”?
ADV: I am currently still editing that project and it should be done next year sometime. “Fugly!” was a really interesting film to do after shooting the documentary. I actually was still editing the documentary when I started work on “Fugly!” I think both movies will kind of reflect on each other. “Fugly!” was written and based on John Leguizamo’s life. John wrote this script so there is a lot validity and autobiographical insight behind the script. It’s very comedic and it allows you to laugh at John. When I was shooting I kind of applied a half documentary and half fictional approach to the film. I applied everything I have learned thus far to that film. I think the film is going to be very fantastic.

AL: Can you tell how you became involved with the project?
ADV: I had worked with John previously on a film called “Nothing Like the Holidays”.  John had been developing the “Fugly!” script for quite a few years and because we had gotten along so well together on our previous film he asked me to join the party. Working with John was an incredible experience.

AL: Besides working with John you also worked with Radha Mitchell and Rosie Perez. Can you tell us what that was like?
ADV: You are talking about two amazing knock out actresses. Rosie is a force of nature and you just kind of drop a line where her character is and let her go! She brings just so much to the table. Radha is incredible and has a different approach than Rosie. Radha has a much more studied approach combined with great instinct and intelligence which really adds to the character. Rosie and Radha play opposites in the film and it’s just wonderful to see them in those roles.

AL: Can you tell us when the two projects will be released?
ADV: “Harlistas: An American Journey” will premier Friday May 27th on the Mundose channel. It will also be getting different premiers overtime within the NBC family. “Fugly!” won’t be released until next year and it will be receiving a theatrical release.

AL: Do you have any other upcoming projects you can tell us about?
ADV: I am working on a film right now called “Without You I’m Nothing” which I think is going to be really amazing and we hope to start shooting in September.

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