The idea and impulse for Bastards y Diablos sprang suddenly when two ideas converged for Andrew Perez:

1) He realized that between his American film collaborators and his family in Colombia, he had everything he needed to tell the story of 2 half-brothers that had been churning in the far reaches of his writer brain for years.

2) He had the unexpected inspiration to reveal an alternative identity of Colombia – one that touches on the beautiful landscapes and passionate, heart-driven people, rather than drugs and violence, which are Colombia's exclusive representatives in mainstream American media.

Both ideas – the story of the brothers and the story of the country – became clear over the course of one day.

Andrew was driving Dillon Porter, who had just finished shooting the road-trip movie Blue Highway, across LA to meet an old college professor. They discussed their aspirations to combine adventure with filmmaking and Andrew was struck with the solution to a long-time creative dream: a dramatic exploration of 2 half-brothers who are distanced by resentment and disparate points of view, yet drawn together by loss and a common search for identity. Because he and Dillon had acted together and successfully explored loaded relationships in the past, Andrew saw the opportunity to explore the complexities of two men connected only by a distant father. That night, Dillon and Andrew visited another friend who, by absolute chance, was watching a documentary about Colombian soccer, The Two Escobars. Andrew became engrossed. He remembered cheering for Los Cafeteros in the 1994 World Cup – and the promise of that team, which Pele predicted would win it all. During a sequence highlighting the team’s triumphant World Cup qualification campaign, former players described the passion, togetherness, and creativity that became identified with Colombian soccer during that year. Andrew realized that the way they were talking about soccer was exactly how he felt about ensemble acting. On another level, he awakened to a dormant, uniquely Colombian piece of his identity. That fateful day sealed the soul of Bastards y Diablos; not only would the film explore the complex bond of two brothers and their father, but also the true identity of a country which has been misrepresented for far too long.

The script was written in the United States; the shoot would take place all over Colombia and became its own adventure. Though the screenplay was crafted with specificity, there were unforeseeable events, opportunities, and challenges that required flexibility and improvisation. Andrew knew that A.D. Freese was the perfect director to not only capture these spontaneous moments of humanity, but the beauty of Colombia itself, all in the service of telling the simple, universal story. Their long prior history of collaboration proved a major strength as rewrites fluidly continued through production. Due to the itinerary and shooting schedule, some scenes had to be scrapped or re-written on the fly, and new scenes emerged as the movie revealed itself in the unpredictable landscape of Colombia.

Bastards y Diablos was shot entirely on location in Colombia in over a dozen cities and their surrounding environments. Our crew of six had 35 days to make five flights, navigate unfamiliar cities, find local actors, and secure viable shooting locations. There were concerns about safety, the language barrier, and the likelihood of gaining access to remote regions of the country. It was an unconventional production in every sense, and required creative solutions at every turn. Much of the production’s success can be attributed to the support of family.

Surrounded by people we trusted, we had more than just translators at our sides: we had uncles setting up casting calls, cousins scouting locations, and grandmothers decorating sets and providing catering. In addition to becoming de facto crew members, much of the family were put in front of the camera as well. They had no acting experience, but their genuine desire to share their familial love and express their connection to the story gave their performances authenticity.

Through these family connections we were put in contact with Colombian television actors Sebastian Eslava and Juanita Arias, who were cast in pivotal roles. They had just wrapped a long arc as lovers on the telenovela Mama Tambien, and came to set with an already-developed chemistry.

Beyond the circle of family, we found Colombians at every location who proved to be natural actors. Padre Gabriel Mejia, a priest who runs a foundation for abandoned kids in many centers across Colombia, exemplified the natural, un-self-conscious ability to connect with others on screen that gives the life of this film its unique quality.

The natural beauty of Colombia emerged as a character itself, though some of the more stunning locations proved difficult to access. We chopped our way through banana trees with a machete, ran out of gas driving up the desolate coast of Guajira, and clung to our equipment when whitecap waves blasted our raft in the Pacific. Reaching these remote locales would have proved impossible for a larger production, yet our small crew - who had risked our lives for our film - were rewarded with unspoiled beauty.

We wrapped shooting from a rooftop overlooking the walled city of Cartagena. The click-clack of a horse drawn carriage echoed across cobblestone. In the distance the sound of a lone trumpet signified the passing of another hour; we knew that it marked the end of our time also. We reflected on the country that had given so much of herself, and her people full of pride and passion. It is to them that we owe this film.

LAFF15 SelectionLaurel
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