Robert Haufrecht discusses his latest film, which features a few familiar faces! Film & Animation Chair, Reeves Lehmann, and acting instructor Mihaela Mihut star in a semi-sequel to Robert’s first film, Subterranean Love.
Mihaela Mihut, who had a small role along with Reeves Lehmann in my first short, Subterranean Love, suggested making a follow-up film using the peripheral characters from my first film. So I thought – why not? I wrote Subterranean Love (Ileana & Paul) based on a scene from the first film which featured Mihaela and Reeves. It was a challenge because I am NOT a natural born writer. Luckily, I had help from the workshop group I belong to, and held a number of readings and received lots of constructive feedback.
It’s great to be a part of the SVA community where I have access to equipment and talented students. Most of my crew were seniors on the cusp of graduating or recent graduates. My good friend and wonderful DP/editor, Dan Simon, offered his talents to the film as well.
I was very fortunate to get locations that worked perfectly for the film. AND Reeves was generous to let us shoot at his house…which is in a fabulous location. I also was able to shoot at three different locations in one day because they were all within one block from each other – a café scene with the two women, a brunch scene between Reeves and Mihaela, and a yoga studio scene (which was the only location I had to pay a small fee to film in!).
Of course, using the City as a backdrop was key. Lincoln Center pond, Ninth Avenue at night, the Roosevelt Island subway escalators, etc.
Most importantly, I had a GREAT cast. I’m fortunate to have begun my career as an actor, and had worked with almost everyone in the film on previous shoots. One bit of accidental luck was replacing the part of Ileana’s Romanian ex with Stratos Tzortzoglou. Little did we know he is a major star in Greece and absolutely a dream to work with.
I had Marni Rice, composer and performer of the accordion music, write some new music for this film. She’s a true talent. And then, one of those “small world” stories, I was able to get the wonderful gypsy jazz music from Daniel Beja from France through his royalty free music website, musicincloud.com. The small world part is that his website is from France, so I wrote to him in French and English to make sure the rights were ok for international festivals, and he emailed me back, saying he was coming to New York for a presentation! so we met at a French restaurant in my hood and I discovered that he himself wrote and performed the music. We then went back to my apartment where I showed him the film and he said not to worry about the rights. We became friends AND he attended the screening at the SVA theater!
One thing I’ve learned from shooting the two films is to make sure you get all the shots you need and want. Don’t settle for less. In both films Dan and I did pick up shots AFTER the scheduled shoot. With Ileana & Paul, it wasn’t until I had seen an assembly cut that I realized I was missing something. Mihaela participated in a re-shoot of her stroll down 9th Avenue and her subway ride at the very beginning of the film.
It’s been very satisfying and validating of late that the film has been accepted into a number of festivals, including the current Greek Film Festival of New York, the upcoming Bucharest Film Awards (Romania), the Chelsea Film Festival, the Big Apple Film Festival (both in NYC) and the Reale Film Festival in Milan.
My thanks to SVA and all involved.