×

IFF Panama: ’Moonlight’ Co-producer Andrew Hevia: ‘Filmmaking Requires a Start-up Mentality’

Miami-based producer attends IFF Panama to present his latest pic “Cenizas”

PANAMA CITY — Academy Award winning producer Andrew Hevia is attending the 7th IFF Panama to present his latest production, Ecuadorian writer- director Juan Sebastian Jacome’s “Cenizas” (“Ashes”), as well as conducting a low-budget filmmaking workshop.

Hevia and Jacome met at the Florida State University Film School, and decided to team up for “Ashes,” which is Hevia’s first feature film since co-producing “Moonlight,” that was directed by fellow Florida State-alumnus Barry Jenkins.

The Ecuador-shot sexual abuse-themed pic is co-produced by Hevia, Panama’s Irina Caballero and Uruguay’s German Tejeira.

Hevia is currently completing his personal documentary, “Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window”, which he lensed in Hong Kong while on a 10-month Fulbright scholarship.

He has used a start-up mindset to produce award-winning films by directors such as Jenkins, Phil Lord and Hannah Fidell and to launch the Borscht Film Festival, called “the weirdest film festival on the planet,” by Indiewire.

During the low-budget filmmaking workshop, Hevia explained that “it can be better to have no money than some money. Money allows you to make what other people are already doing. When you eliminate money, you have to focus on your narrative resources and tell stories in a fun and inventive manner – and make a film that people want to watch.”

He emphasized the opportunities provided by digital tools, citing examples such as Steven Soderbergh’s recent iPhone-shot “Unsane.”

His core advice included creating a sense of place, focusing on texture and sound, making the specific accessible and giving profound meaning to the simplest moments.

Talking about “Moonlight,” Hevia said that Jenkins applied a world cinema aesthetic, thereby making it fresh for American audiences and accessible to international audiences. He said that two of Jenkins’ favorite pics are Claire Denis’ “Friday Night” and Hou Hsiao-hsien’s “Three Times.”

Hevia also advised budding filmmakers to make a film for a specific audience that cares, and focus on that community, saying that in his own experience having a direct hand-to-hand experience with a local audience in Miami has been vital to his films.

“They say the best part of Miami is that it’s so close to the United States. But that gives us an “outsider” status which is really stimulating. We don’t have the burden of an entrenched film industry, and that gives us incredible freedom.”

“I think the films that connect with audiences need to have a start-up feel, and loads of innovation in the way they’re edited and communicate with audiences. The types of stories we can tell are suddenly up for grabs.”

Hevia has a master’s degree in Media Entrepreneurship from the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham U, and said that film producing is all about creative entrepreneurship, citing Eric Rees’ book, “The Lean Startup” as inspiration.

“You have to adopt an entrepreneurial mind set and do the kind of things a tech founder would think about.”

He said that the pioneering involvement of indie distributor, A24, in “Moonlight” was crucial to the film’s success.

“They understand you can find audiences in new ways. You know that an A24 film will be different.”

Hevia also believes that new technologies and new communication strategies offer opportunities for films from Central and South America.

“One of things with ‘Ashes’ is to to show how necessary it is to talk in the wake of sexual abuse,” Hevia explained,

In the film, the menace of a volcanic eruption in Ecuador serves as a metaphor for this impending explosion. “All of a sudden a theme like this is relevant globally. You really can’t plan for these things but you have to capitalize on them. Taking the film to festivals helps build engagement. It’s like Roger Ebert used to say: Films are like an “empathy machine.”

“We can’t leave storytelling resources in the hands of the few. That’s one of the things that made “Moonlight” so special, the characters were speaking about their experience in that neighborhood.”

Hevia said that his upcoming “Leave the Bus” has the same spirit, calling it creative non-fiction. “It’s a personal POV doc. My camera is my POV. I had a DSLR and nobody knew I was making a feature film. Suddenly that gives you great creative freedom. You can break the rules and see if it works.”

Asked whether he would like to make a film like “La La Land,” he smiled: “Of course. That’s also a film rooted in a very specific community and which spoke to a specific audience. I’d love to make a film like that.”

More Film

  • Pawel Pawlikowski "Cold War"

    Pawel Pawlikowski's 'Cold War' Makes History for Poland

    Alfonso Cuaron might’ve tied an Oscar record with four nods to his name for “Roma,” which scored 10 nominations overall. But another black-and-white film in a foreign language, Pawel Pawlikowski’s jazz-infused romantic drama “Cold War,” was honored with three Academy Award nominations Tuesday, the most in history for a primarily Polish-backed production. The film will [...]

  • BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

    U.K. Cinema Attendance in 2018 Was Highest Since 1970

    Cinema attendance in the U.K. topped 177 million in 2018, the highest number since 1970. Box office held firm at £1.3 billion ($1.7 billion) through the year as 10 movies crossed the £30 million threshold in the year. That compares with six films in 2017. After a sweltering summer in the U.K. and a strong [...]

  • ASIB Roma Black Panther

    Vote: Which Movie Should Win the Oscar for Best Picture?

    The 91st Oscar nominations were unveiled on Tuesday with “Roma” and “The Favourite” leading the way with 10 nods each. “Roma,” Alfonso Cuaron’s love-letter to his childhood nanny, is Netflix’s first-ever best picture nomination and could make history as the first foreign-language movie to ever win the top prize at the Academy Awards. Other best [...]

  • Göteborg TV Drama Vision Expects 60

    TV Drama Vision Set to Take Pulse of Nordic Commissioners’ Wish List

    More than 360 international delegates are expected at Göteborg’s 13th Nordic TV Drama Vision (Jan. 30-31) described by head of industry Cia Edström as a ‘boutique event’, where top Nordic and international drama professionals gather each year to gauge the state of the Nordic market and hot content. For the first time, to comply with the [...]

  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

    Oscar Nominations: The Academy Often Sings to Its Own Tune

    You know the annual Oscar nominations announcement is going to be a lively one when things begin to enter a lull just before they drop, and that’s what it felt like ahead of Tuesday morning’s reveal. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, ever evolving and growing as a voting body, was sure to [...]

  • Oscar Nominations: Announcement Doesn't Name a

    Oscar Nominations Reveal Nothing About Hostless Ceremony

    While Tuesday brought a fresh pack of Oscar nominees, we are no closer to understanding what’s in store when the golden statues are handed out on live television come Feb. 24. The point of the dramatic nominees announcement each year is to drum up excitement for the telecast — but this morning, the announcement didn’t feature [...]

  • Roma Cold War

    Oscar Nominations: Foreign-Language Films Surprise in Major Categories

    Mexico’s “Roma,” Poland’s “Cold War,” and Germany’s “Never Look Away” provided a powerful showing for foreign-language films with a combined 15 nominations across several categories for the 91st Academy Awards. The director category featured a number of foreign-born filmmakers: Alfonso Cuaron for “Roma,” Pawel Pawlikowski for “Cold War,” and Greek director Yorgos Lanthimos for “The Favourite.” Cuaron [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content