Once the guider of young minds, Carmen Marron is now guiding herself through the world of film making as the writer, producer and director of her first feature film GO FOR IT!.
The winner of the Audience Award and an Official Selection of the 2010 Chicago International Film Festival, GO FOR IT! is the story of a young women struggling to overcome her fears and follow her dream of becoming a dancer.
Now, on the heels of ;its nationwide debut, the Logan Square native is returning to her hometown to officially premiere the film and took time to talk to UnRated Urban about her journey into film making.
You have an interesting story of how you got started?
Carmen Marron: I actually have no film making background. I use to be a guidance counselor. I grew up in Logan Square. I chose to be a guidance counselor in Phoenix, South Phoenix, which is where I lived. I wanted to work with at risk kids and inner city kids as well because I felt like I could really relate to them and after working with them for two years I realized the kids really did not look up to their parents or people in their community, they looked up to people in television and film for role models, unfortunately. And people in film and television that weren't real or they were looking up to people like Brittney Spears, people that did not have anything in common with their lives and their struggles. And so I decided to write a script.
I wanted to write a script about a family and about young kids, especially women, because I felt like these young girls were throwing their lives away and getting pregnant and they were making so many mistakes, so I decided to write this script about them and mirror their lives so they can see and learn about themselves by watching this movie and hopefully be inspired.
Is it true the film took 6 years to finish?
Carmen Marron: Yes, it did take 6 years to finish.
Did you ever want to give up during that time?
Carmen Marron: Always. Always, because it took us five years just to save the money. So during the time when we were just saving the money, I was like why are we completely changing our lives to save money for this movie; I'm not even sure what I'm doing, I don't even know if its going to go anywhere.
The main character in the film, Carmen-is she based on any of your students or a family member?
Carmen Marron: I named her Carmen because that's my name and because when I was growing up, Carmen was the most common name for a Latina. There was always at least three Carmen's in every classroom that I was in. I have cousins named Carmen; its like Maria, I was either going to name her Maria or Carmen. I thought everyone uses Maria already in films so I decided on Carmen because I wanted to use a name that is so frequently used that kids could relate to.
Do you keep up with any of your former students?
Carmen Marron: No, I worked at an elementary school and the kids were very young. I was really more influenced by the seventh and eighth graders and some of the girls in the community and the teenage girls that I knew growing up too. I have not kept in touch with any of them (former students).
Are all of the actors in the film from Chicago?
Carmen Marron: I would say out of the main actors, 7 or 8 are from Chicago-Aimee Garcia, Gina Rodriguez, David Hernandez, Louis Alegria. And it's funny because there from Chicago but most of them live in L.A., only 2 I believe live in Chicago.
GO FOR IT! is being released by Pantelion Films, a new film studio, how did this happen?
Carmen Marron: GO FOR IT!, I believe, was there first acquisition. I was screening my film around the country at festivals and there was a buzz and someone who saw the movie ended up knowing someone at Lions Gate and called them and said hey you need to take a look at this movie and they ended up coming to one of my screenings in L.A. and after they saw it, they contacted me and asked me to screen it at the studio. That was rare, I mean it does not happen that way at all. I don't even know anyone else that that's happened to, that's how rare it was.
Since this is your first time writing and directing a film, I hope you will continue with this
Carmen Marron: Well, yes I love this, I never wanted to do this, I never wanted thought about being a film maker but I realized that this is definitely, definitely part of my destiny.
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Carmen Marron: I'm working on two scripts and I'm hoping to get one into production before the end of summer and I'm hoping to do it in Chicago.
So Chicago will stay relevant with your projects?
Carmen Marron: Yes, Chicago will always be relevant with the scripts I write.
Would you be open to television, maybe writing a dramatic or comedic series or do you want to stay with films?
Carmen Marron: I am definitely open to that. If the situation arises where I think it would be something that I believe in and I create quality programming that will reach my demographic and also give them so type of message to walk away with that's inspiring, then yes, I might do that as well.
Are there any actors or actresses that you would like to work with?
Carmen Marron: Definitely, one of them is John C. Reilly. I love him and I just found out he's from Chicago. I would love to work with Julia Roberts. I just think she's so refreshing.
What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers?
Carmen Marron: Honesty, what I can seriously say is that being an independent filmmaker is one of the hardest things you can do. If you really want to be an independent filmmaker, work on films that you truly believe in and that you love with all your heart because its going to take years to get it made and also be very patient because its part of the journey. And I heard that from everybody and now I've gone through it myself.