The basic brief for my film Hecho en Mexico (Made in Mexico) was to make a film that would reflect the beauty and inspiration in Mexico that is not making the news.
Before I went everyone was yabbering at me about how dangerous it was down there, who the hell did I think I was thinking I could swan in with a film crew and be safe? But I really believed that the PR of Mexico was much worse than the reality. I was right. There is madness there but most of the 110m Mexicans are just getting on with their day, dealing with the crisis of lost love or worrying about their mum or trying to earn a living, or writing a song with a visiting musician. These were the people I was going to meet. And we would create something beautiful together, I knew that...
My first location was a small rented flat in one of the more fashionable parts of Mexico city called Condesa and I got stuck in. My question was simple. What has Mexico got that I don't know about? And what of it inspires me? What makes me laugh? What is unique? I was lucky to get producer and Mexican music legend Lynn Fainchtein to work with me. She and her assistant Jose Pablo started to smother me with music and ideas from the Mexican side of the moon. Four months later we were ready to start shooting. I had composed some music as a starting point and I had some questions on the themes I was interested in. We had assembled a small 'crack' crew, and off we went in search of the magical.
The first leg was a two month journey in a van around the South: Veracruz, Merida, San Christobal, Oaxaca and then back to the city. So many highlights on this treasure hunt. Late night drunken Fandango in Veracruz. The spiritual highs of Bolom Chon in Chamula, The endless candles and boats of the day of the dead on the island of Patzcuaro, Lila Downs singing a piece we had written together to the Virgin of Guadalupe in a church outside Oaxaca, the 150 piece school Banda, a five hour jam with rock band Molotov, being body slammed by the Blue Demon, so many delicious moments.
We travelled up north too. Every mile north of Mexico city you feel the connection to the USA growing, but 'Mexicanity' remains strong. Highlights included being in the burning heat at the Easter mask festival in Hermisillo, Banda limon music in Mazatalan, to the border towns, Tijuana, Monterrey, and over the border to see the Mexico on the other side. I'd been to L.A many times before but never from Mexico with a bunch of Mexicans. I realised that I was still in Mexico!
The film was an improvised piece. There was no script or storyboard just some music and questions as starting points. I love building things in this way. No one is really clear what the final outcome will be, there simply needs to be the trust in the process, that something great will happen! The reality was that it was crazy the way the film fell together once we started editing. it was as if there was a script running that no one had seen!
Today I am in Penzance putting the finishing touches to the soundtrack and buzzing on the excitement that I'm feeling from all angles. World premier in east London coming up with friends and family present. Then back to Mexico for a Gala Premier at the Palace of fine arts in the centre of Mexico city. The feedback from everyone is incredible The film comes out on general 35mm release in Mexico in September at 180 cinemas across Mexico. You know what? I didn't realise what I was really doing. I was just doing my thing making each day work the best it can. But what has been revealed is inspirational.
I'm happy I got the phone call to write this piece. I'm very grateful for getting the opportunity to share a little of my journey with you. Just sitting here writing it with the sound of the Cornish seagulls around me reminds me of how grateful I should be. Gracias, Mucho gracias.
Made in Mexico screens as the opening night Gala on Friday 17 August at the inaugural London Mexfest. See http://www.richmix.org.uk for details
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