First-time filmmaker scores film fest screening
Salt Lake stage actor and first-time filmmaker David Trujillo Trujillo boasted about a 99-cent budget while making the short "The Woman in the River," which will make its Park City debut at the Park City Film Music Festival on Saturday.
"That’s basically saying I had no budget," Trujillo said during an interview. "I actually pooled from my resources and asked friends with whom I have performed with on stage to contribute to the film."
Luckily they all said yes and committed to the project.
"I am just so grateful and so appreciative of them," said Trujillo, who has acted with the Hale Center Theatre, the Utah Opera and the Salt Lake Acting Club. "They were all volunteers and didn’t ask for anything."
The film’s plot is based on a story that haunted Trujillo’s childhood.
"It’s a spinoff of a Hispanic folk legend called ‘La Llouona,’ which means ‘The Weeping Woman,’" he said. "It’s a spooky campfire tale that tells of a woman who loses her children in the river and, as a result, goes insane and haunts the river banks. The story is a form of protection designed to keep children from playing around rivers.
"Sometimes when we hear a river or a brook, it can sound like a person, and that’s what I think started the legend," he said. "In my story, there’s actually a happy ending, instead of a dark and haunting mystery."
There is also a shaman, played by Salt Lake theatre personality Bruce Bredeson, who comforts the woman, played by Tracy Evans.
Trujillo thought it was important for as a first-time director to be familiar with the subject matter.
"That’s why I chose something out of my culture that I was able to relate to, because I knew I could give it some energy and give it some personality from my being," he said.
Still, the director felt overwhelmed.
"The whole process was a challenge, but that’s what my personality likes," he said. "My favorite musical is ‘Man of LaMancha,’ which is about overcoming obstacles.
One of the production’s pieces (‘The Impossible Dream’) says ‘to love pure and chase from afar, to try when your arms are too weary, to reach the unreachable star.’
"Directing my film was all about a quest," he said. "Filmmaking is about how you overcome your obstacles and create your own reality, and it’s about imagination and bringing your own personality and thoughts into the (medium) and pulling in the viewers to one particular level of yourself.
"The project is about community, commitment and respect, and I hope that comes across to the viewer," he said.
Highlighting the action is the dramatic score written by Brigham Young University graduate Nathaniel Drew.
"Nathaniel’s forte is a mixture of jazz, pop and opera," Trujillo said. "It’s kind of a neo-classic style.
"One of my co-producers, Tracy Evans, who plays the mother and also works at the Hale Center Theatre, recommended Nathaniel," he said. "I was impressed with his work, because it showcased his talent, work and soul."
The soulfulness behind the music is important to the overall feel of the film, Trujillo said.
"Nathaniel was able to capture that," he said. "Any time you collaborate with someone where you exchange ideas and creativity, there is always tension, and the tension is a good because it allows you to enhance your creativity.
"I think that showed through because we landed at the Park City Film Music Festival.
"I feel grateful to be a part of a festival which showcases the talents behind a film," he said. "There are times, and this is one of them, where I can only say, ‘Thank you to all who were involved, from the cast and crew to the judges and the festival programmers.’
"I’m elated and what’s beautiful about it all is everyone who was on the project, especially the actors, are allowed to see themselves on the big screen and the credits. Everyone is excited that it reached this level."
The PCFMF is the second film festival to screen "The Woman in the River," Trujillo said.
"The first was Vistas Film Festival in Austin, Texas," he said. "It was a Hispanic film festival, and it speaks volumes when your own culture accepts and recognizes your piece and finds it worth showing."
The Park City Film Music Festival will screen Utah-native David Trujillo’s short film "The Woman in the River," along with Dawn Sinclair Shapiro’s "Edge of Joy" and Nunzio Fazio’s "From the Midst of Pain," at the Prospector Lodge Convention Center Theatre, 2175 Sidewinder Dr., on Saturday, May 28 at 1 p.m. The festival will run through May 30. Tickets are $10. Visit http://www.pcfmf.com/MainPage.html for tickets and a full schedule.
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