We took rejections as a badge of honor as we were rejected for many years with the script: Patricia Chica
#PatriciaChica; #MontrealGirls; #RobertDAlessio; #RobsInnerCircle; #JennyDuHaime; #KamalJohnIskander, #HakimBrahimi
Toronto/Canadian-Media: Patricia Chica, a Canadian film and television director, producer, writer, speaker, acting coach, and energy influencer, during her conversation, with Robert D’Alessio in Episode 20 of Rob’s Inner Circle Podcast, hosted by Robert -- produced by Jenny DuHaime, Robert D’Alessio Productions, and Pax Management in Bobby’s Short Shorts (YouTube/StreamYard/Facebook) -- describes the struggles she faced in her script and the casting during the production of her recent theatrical feature film, ‘Montreal Girls’ which would be out in 2021 after 9 years of development.
Patricia Chica in conversation with Robert D’Alessio: Screenshot
Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media brings you the excerpts:
Robert to Patricia: Tell us about your upcoming movie, ‘Montreal Girls’.
Patricia: ‘Montreal Girls’ is the theatrical feature film dramatic coming of age story to be out in 2021 after 9 years of development. It has been a long journey for me and my writing co-partner Kamal John Iskander and the producers of ‘Objectif 9’. We have been around the block many many times and they say take rejections as a badge of honor because we were rejected for many years with the script. I always believed this story needed to be told and it is never a match until you get it right with the right partners. That is what I have learned in this process. 'Montreal Girls’ is a labor of love and has my full stamp on it. The film is coming out next year, and post-production has already started.
Patricia with the Cast and Crew of Montreal Girls on the set. Image credit: © Bernard Brault.
To Patricia: Tell us a little bit Patricia about the lead actor, there is something peculiar about him. He had no experience but he did something extremely courageous. Please share that with your audience.
For many years we had one of the top rising stars of Egypt, Ahmed Malek but once we were able to fund the film with all the regulations in Canada, we lost our Egyptian star. So within a week, we had to replace him with somebody local because my film production was at stake. We went on a wide search casting call including North America and the Middle East for a young middle eastern actor in his early 20s to play the lead. At last, when I found a young person Hakim Brahimi, who was actually not an actor, but an employee of CIBC bank, also studying at Concordia University to become an engineer.
I wrote to him that he should send a self-tape within 24 to 48 hours, and when he sent a tape, it was obvious that he was not a trained actor. The next day I called him in the audition room and asked for his commitment to work full time with me as he had to do the lead role. He not only committed but also quit his job before I announced the role. With his willingness to learn and be guided to educate himself at different levels, I found that Hakim had a very high teachability index.
Hakim Brahimi with Patricia Chica. Image credit: Sophia Benalouane
We worked together for a full year to get him ready for the role of Ramy in ‘Montreal Girls’ and he did all the coaching of chi energy possible to become that character. The profound performance he gave was so intuitive and so right for the role. “I was myself impressed to the point of being teary sometimes behind the monitor when I could observe all the journey he went through to become that character.”
Hakim being coached by Patricia on Chi Energy. Image credit: Sophia Benalouane
To Patricia: You said you have some actors cast from all over Canada. There you have quite a bit cast on Montreal Girls.
We have a large cast with over 20 actors, a lot of secondary roles extras, etc. For me, casting has to be right, to be the right energy, authentic, and the commitment of the actors. I spent 4 and a half years on my own looking for those actors. And then worked with the wonderful team at Bruno Rosato Casting who helped us complete the callbacks and things like that. But it was a long journey for me, a heartbreaking journey to discover so many talents, discover myself, as well as my characters throughout the process. I did not want to cast people from different cultures playing Arabs and middle eastern people etc. I wanted the Quebecois to be full of Quebecois with the accent and those who were Anglos to be Anglos from Montreal, Middle Easterns to be Middle Eastern Arab characters and this is what makes a movie real and authentic.
Rob’s Inner Circle Podcasts are copyrighted: Copyright © September 2020, Bobby’s Short Shorts / Robert D’Alessio Productions / Pax Management. All rights reserved.
#PatriciaChica; #Filmmaker; #StoriesWithMessage; #CreativeProcess; #MaleDominatedSets
During a retrospective of her films and Q & A at the University of Southern California (USC), hosted by the Central American Film Festival in 2016, filmmaker Patricia Chica shares personal moments of her life and career journey, and inspirational anecdotes about her creative process working with actors, writers, and producers with TV Host/Interviewer: Sandra Chavarria and the audience.
Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media brings you the excerpts:
Patricia Chica's interview session with Sandra
Sandra: I heard you say in your introductory speech Koalas to Astoria meaning what is your story. what is your story, Patricia?
Patricia: My story is very similar to about 2 million people in El Salvador where I was born in the 1970s. When the war struck in my country my father left the country to go to Mexico and apply for a visa for Canada. After working very hard from cleaning bathrooms to painting walls, within 6 months, he was able to pay for me, my mother, and my three little brothers to go to Canada. But we could not get visas to Canada due to the war. So, we had to lie and from Mexico City boarded a plane for Madrid with a stopover in Montreal, where my mother left the airplane leaving all her personal belongings with the luggage. Once in Montreal, we sought political refugee status. My parents were paid to learn French and soon they became Canadian citizenships and professionals and I educated myself to become a filmmaker. At present, about 200,000 to 250,000 Salvadorians are in Canada. 50,000 are in Montreal where I am from and there are many in Toronto and Vancouver. So that is my story.
What inspired you to become a filmmaker as you probably did not know many filmmakers from El Salvador?
I did not know any filmmakers in the world. From my childhood, I used to draw pictures to tell stories. When given a camera to record the vision in my head, I knew could transform people with my stories. I realized cinema to be the right tool for as it encompasses everything that I love including to stage, direct people, create, guide people to empower themselves creatively. My aim is to utilize all art forms visually to write a story to sound and music with rhythm and energy and to create emotion to engage and reach out to an international audience.
Patricia Chica filming as a teenager
What is your process with your writers when you have a plan to do a film?
I love to collaborate with the writers to elevate ideas, dialogue with them to develop a visually powerful story with my strong ideas, and a smooth transition from scene to scene by getting rid of many lines in the script. Once the actors start talking lines the visual script becomes alive and elevates the story to the next level. Apart from the writing and storytelling process, I love editing my own films with detail, love, long hours, and passion to create a strong message.
How I enjoy it? I had upset many boyfriends by spending all my nights on my computer. I started editing and filming when I was 16 years old. For me editing is a process of visualizing, capturing the image, creating rhythm and dynamics and associating lines with visuals and scenes, and reshuffling the structure of scenes to elevate the story. It is always about the story and involves selecting actors tactfully. For example, Medusa in ‘Serpents Lullaby’ was shot while sitting on the chair and just looking. This behind the scenes material was shot by behind the scenes camera. I utilize every second to shoot the reactions of unaware actors to elevate performance by replacing words with magical moments.
I also see that you teach with very spiritual energy with a message in all your stories. How do you do that?
The basic principle of filmmaking I follow is to connect the subject matter at the human level even if it is horrific, violent, dark, and then to find the light of humanity in darkness. After learning that the actor Holy Scar, could not scream due to a huge emotional blockage from childhood, I helped him overcome this blockage.
Holy Scar. Image credit: Screenshot
The strong messages in my stories empower and transform people’s lives by awakening their realization that everything happens in the world for a reason. In ‘Ceramic Tango’ my message to the people was to stop judging HIV patients or feel threatened because they are all human beings. I showed them the other side of the illness or their lifestyle to find some connection. After the screening of ‘Ceramic Tango,’ one man came to me, took my hand, and said, ‘This movie really moved me because I have been living with HIV for 30 years and it is the first time that I felt good about it.’ (Audience clapping) I sold my house for this film, but it was worth it as I felt a little better because somebody understood.
What are your experiences as a Latina woman filmmaker in a male-dominated field? Do you get a lot better with men than with women during working?
Being a filmmaker all my life since the age of 16, I see a huge change in the film industry by allowing women more important roles. Having been mostly on male-dominated sets with all my collaborators being male, I love working with men. Being raised in a family where there were only brothers, I have always been like a female leader. I know there are challenges, but I am very geeky and love talking about cameras, lenses, and techniques and we have fun working together. Irrespective of male or female collaborators, my concentration is focused on if their collaboration can improve the performance of what I have in my mind.
Do you think that lack of opportunities for women in this industry not only in the US but everywhere is going to change?
I think it is up to me to change it. I do not count on anybody to give me jobs. I create my own jobs and I am always creating something so I always find a way and not hoping that somebody will come with a silver plate.
Any words of wisdom for the audience and other people as to how to keep going in this industry?
I would say what has worked for me is to always follow your purpose and your heart, to do what you love, be aligned and congruent with your purpose. By doing the things that make you happy, you will always succeed.
In my rebellious teenage mind, I wanted to provoke thinking and challenge the status quo: Patricia Chica
#Toronto; #PatriciaChica; #Salvador; #Filmmaker; Chi Energy
Toronto, Nov 3 (Canadian-Media): Patricia Chica is a Canadian/Salvadorian talented writer, director, and producer of several films in English, French, and Spanish with a unique voice and qualifies for a subsidy from both countries.
Patricia Chica. Image credit: @GeovannySolis_GOODy
Asha Bajaj, Editorial-Director of Canadian-Media discusses with Patricia Chica by e-mail about her unique vision in all her work.
Asha Bajaj: What motivated you to choose the film line? Briefly describe your work for eight years as a casting director with your company ChicArt Productions, before you were known as a director-producer?
Patricia: I’ve always known that I would work in the entertainment industry, film, and television in particular since I was a kid. When I was in high school, as part of my English class assignment, I decided to do a video instead of a written essay like everyone and this was marked as a skill I would go on to develop further in the future.
I started my professional career as a casting director at the age of 16 and at 18, I founded ChicArt Productions as a small one-person business. Within a few years, it was transformed into a sustainable and successful casting agency with an office at Mel’s Studios in Montreal and 6 full-time employees.
Patricia Chica filming as a teenager
During those years, I conducted over 2000 auditions alongside veteran directors and seasoned actors for dozens of projects ranging from feature films, television series, commercials, and music videos, for Canadian, American, and French productions and became actor’s director and coach. My casting approach was based on opening doors to diverse actors: people of color, LGBTQ+, underground-looking people, and newcomers. I was always on the lookout for novelty, originality, for diversity, and inclusion in an era where these elements were unheard of. Finally at the height of my casting career, following my own heart, I closed the agency to concentrate solely on directing. Although I was broke for 6-months during my transitional period, I never looked back and I absolutely have no regrets.
As a 60-time award-winning film and television director, producer, writer, and editor you specialize in world-class productions in the genre of psychological dramas, thrillers, and edgy documentaries. What motivated you to follow this direction?
Driven by the power of storytelling to impact audiences worldwide to make society and the world a better place, I decided to become a director at the age of 17. In my rebellious teenage mind, I wanted to provoke thinking and challenge the status quo.
Today, there are 3 conditions that have to meet to become involved in a project which are:
1) Will the story impact the world positively?,
2) Will I have fun working on the project with the team involved?
3) Will it make me money, make me grow, and/or bring prestige to my slate?
All 3 boxes have to be checked for me to get involved. I don’t make compromises on the quality of the projects I choose to direct or produce.
Which were the main characteristic features and techniques you employed to develop stories in the genre of psychological dramas?
I tell my stories from the point of view (POV) of the protagonist, which drew me to the inner journey of the character and ultimately to the psychological drama genre. I developed storytelling techniques that support emotional connection with a unique visual style, using surreal imagery and meticulous editing cuts to portray the intrapsychic perspective of the protagonist.
In my psychological thriller work, I use twisted and disturbing elements within the edits to shock audiences and make them think differently about certain hard-hitting realities. It’s my way of bringing the darkness to the forefront so the audience can better see the light that lies underneath the surface of the plot. My films have a redeeming aspect so they can bring some sort of healing and enlightenment in the end.
Being prolific in three languages, did you direct films in all three languages? If yes, give a few examples of films in each language?
I started my career on French-Canadian television, directing for Canal Vie, Astra Media, the former TQS channel, ARTV, Canal D, Tele-Quebec, and many more, but later transitioned to English television for networks such as National Geographic, MTV, Travel Channel, CBS, and CBC.
With an aim to find an international audience for my personal films, I’ve worked with writers from Los Angeles, and Toronto, and made my short films mostly in English (Day Before Yesterday, Ceramic Tango, Serpent’s Lullaby, A Tricky Treat, and Morning After).
I used the Spanish language when I filmed two episodes of a documentary series called Spice Hunters in Mexico.
My recent English-language feature film Montréal Girls has many scenes in Arabic and French. Even if I don’t speak Arabic, I wanted the Arab characters to express themselves as authentically as possible.
You co-founded in 1997 a production company Flirt Films with a vision to produce high-quality films directed by women and visual minorities. Can you elaborate on this?
My intention of co-founding Flirt Films was to trigger opportunities for women and visual minorities (people of color), which were scarce in the late ’90s, and provide them with a space to work on high-quality productions.
Some of my first few projects with Flirt Films were short films directed by women, which was followed by producing and directing a series of short documentaries about the diverse Queer, Nightlife, and Hip Hop scenes in Montreal. The hiring of diversity was also extended to the cast and crew. Always being surrounding myself by multicultural and queer collaborators from different walks of life, sharing different views of the world, I felt could make a team richer at all levels.
You developed a creative approach based on Chi Energy techniques for storytelling and performance while filming ‘Montreal Girls’. Briefly describe this technique with your actors during the physical limitations imposed by the COVID safety rules.
Right at the beginning of the filmmaking process, I embraced Chi Energy, a mindset process based on the combination of these 5 laws: the laws of Nature, Time, Language, Subconscious Mind, and Vibration which implements higher consciousness and awareness. This methodology integrates storytelling with mindful practices such as breathwork, meditation, visualization, body awareness, energy exchange, and self-actualization exercises.
Patricia Chica in Chi Energy workshop. Image credit: ©Sharath_Ravishankar.jpg
By sharing this simple technique, when combined with a clear positive purpose, with my actors during the compulsory pre-production workshop, allowed them to stay centered and deeply connect to their characters, build strong relationships among themselves by successfully transcending any physical and mental limitations.
For example, I showed them how to use gazing into each other’s eyes and visualization techniques, to name a few.
Are you in any way connected with Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)? If so in what capacity?
I’m a proud alumna of the TIFF Filmmaker Lab, a professional development program hosted by the Toronto International Film Festival. I was selected in 2018 as one of the 10 rising Canadian directors through this highly curated prestigious talent incubator. Thanks to my participation in the Lab, I was able to make valuable connections and learn from outstanding mentors.
What are your future plans after signing up with MoJo Global Arts?
My managers at Mojo Global Arts (Alex Flores, Doug Warner, and Morris Ruskin) are actively looking out opportunities for me to direct American episodic television and commercial feature films. They have been facilitating introductions to various production companies and studios in Hollywood. They’ve also guided me through the strategic process of rebranding me and my craft to attract high profile collaborations in the US and abroad.
MoJo Global Arts