THE REFLECTION OF FRANCISCA NEWMAN, 15min., USA
Directed by Jon Frenkel Garcia
In this cinematic fairytale, Francisca Newman, a psychologically disturbed ballerina, fails at her life audition. Her perfectionism starts to take a noticeable toll on her mental health, where in a world of passion and beauty, sensibility and enlightenment becomes darkness.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
It was the urge to explore this feeling of passion mixed with perfectionism that made me feel so alone as an artist but also as a friend, a son and as a human being in general. I’ve always been a very existentialist kid, looking for answers about myself and Francisca Newman is a huge aspect of who I am (and still am) that I am still trying to understand, respect and give the space that it deserves and not anymore. I found the concept of a dancer locked inside a space, ironic and beautiful and a great visual metaphor of how our creative headspaces work, psychologically speaking.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
The other day, I discovered I had an audio I recorded back in April 2020 doing a table read explaining this concept for the first time to my mom. It started with an idea of a fly entering Francisca’s ear, she starts hearing a voice and starts seeing projections of her past. My mom found it hilarious because it’s something that happened to her a few months back that inspired me to write this. I would say approximately just over two years (a lot compared to a fifteen-minute result, nothing from any indie filmmaker point of view).
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Regardless of the usual production challenges we faced as a team, creating such an ambitious project without the resources and budget the project asked for, my biggest obstacle was purely psychological, keeping myself mentally healthy, accepting the limitations and killing those expectations I enforced myself unfairly from the beginning. Apart from that, I am thankful to have counted with a creative team, specially Ale (my DP) and Clara (my actress) who were always there to create and recreate with me in the escalating process of the project with a professional imagination, “key skill” in my innocent opinion for any true filmmaker.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was emotionally euphoric, I watched it with my mom for the first time and we both cried for the whole 5-minute duration of the video. It truly shocked me how much work, time and energy was placed behind each of the reviews for all the pieces. It is my first time receiving any feedback about my project, regardless of my family, friends and some festival discussions where someone actually has watched it without knowing anything about the people around the creation of it, giving some reflection on what it felt like, meant one thing to someone and something else to another. It’s always interesting the director’s mindset after our piece is finished, we believe certain things to be obviously clear and others (badly executed) confusing moments that we believe, will just get painfully lost eternally. This kind of feedback proves me wrong and it is one of my personal favorite things about this piece in particular, it keeps surprising me, the divergent feedback I am now getting back from it, people feel very different strong things about it, which proves some part of my work must be partial successful.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
The moment I started to connect more with certain movie characters and stories more than most people and circumstances that surrounded me. I was about 14, now I think it was after encountering death from someone very close to me for the first time that life started to get more complicated, cinema and stories told from certain artists' perspectives talked to me more than anything. I wasn’t (and still ain’t) the most communicative person and don’t connect to that many things or people around me, but if someone could make me connect so deeply with a story about a fish and express so much truth to so many, maybe making films was something I could try.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Probably “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” or the way you say it in the US “The Sorcerer's Stone”. The reason the rest of the saga isn’t as high as this one is only because they didn’t come out at the same time. Me and my cousins were raised and grew up with them as they were coming out (as any other kid from our generation). We would watch the first two on VHS repeatedly and disproportionately until the new ones were coming out. Also Ram Raimi’s 2002 “Spiderman” is probably up there too.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
These kinds of opportunities to give answers as a filmmaker and receive personalized feedback from live and alive audiences. A more personal and interactive approach is always appreciated for the storytellers that aren’t just creating content but want to explore this medium in the most honest way, connecting with a true artistic community. Also, any chance to showcase our work as filmmakers gives us a bigger chance to get to those very few eyes and ears that will end up connecting to some level.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Not bad at all. Screening my own personal piece on big screens (such as AMC) in the city of LA is something I will forever be grateful to platforms that allow me to make this come true. It is a long process that takes a lot of budget, but mainly time, energy and patience.
10. What is your favorite meal?
My grandma’s chicken wings with her fries and eggs.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
Apart from trying to keep the promotion of “Francisca Newman” alive, my new music video “Llamadas Vacias” by my mexican artist friend Manu Beker, just came out this week ( Manu Beker - Llamadas Vacías (Video Oficial) ). Asides from always writing new pieces, I have a few projects in post-production, one of them being a horror piece called “A Helping Hand”. It’s a surreal concept I came up with my director of photography, Cheriana Resky, when I told her about my idea, she came up with some of the most creative ways to visually accomplish certain feelings of discomfort and most importantly, empathy towards our character. Cheri truly took this project to the next level, as she always does. @cherianaresky
“A Helping Hand” it’s about a woman who suffers from a disturbing phobia of being touched or touching others, she finds herself confronting her fear when encountering her dying neighbor who is having a seizure on the floor.