We're big fans of local filmmaker Andrew Hevia and his affiliated projects, whether it's his raunchy web series The Adventures of a Sexual Miscreant or his work as one of the impresarios behind the increasingly influential Borscht Film Festival. So when the South By Southwest Film Festival announced it's slate of films, we were elated when we saw a film in the festival's Emerging Visions program was edited by none other than Hevia himself.
No Matter What is filmmaker Cherie Saulter's directorial debut after producing the micro-indie hit Medicine for Melancholy, written by Miami's Barry Jenkins and starring Wyatt Cenac. We got the skinny on the film from Hevia himself.
New Times: The feature film you edited, No Matter What, is having it's world premiere at the South By Southwest Film Festival in Austin. Congratulations.
Andrew Hevia: Why thank you.
The SXSW website describes the film as "two best friends living in the crumbling landscape of rural Florida, whose lives and friendship are changed by the journey to find Joey's mother." Can you elaborate on the description?
Basically, I'd restate the directors official synopsis, with slightly different words... it's a quiet drama about the sort of the kids who fall through the cracks and how they manage to find a place for themselves.
Is the film, beyond your involvement, connected with Borscht?
Not at all. Cherie Saulter, the writer/director/producer was a classmate of mine at FSU film school. About four years ago, she asked me to edit her feature and I said "of course!" The vast majority of the crew came out the FSU film school. Although, if you want a Borscht connection there's this: It's sort of a six degrees of Kevin Bacon. Cherie produced a movie in 2008 called Medicine for Melancholy which was directed by FSU alum Barry Jenkins. At Borscht 2007 and 2008 we held screenings of Medicine for Melancholy at the Tower Theater one year and at Sweat Records as part of a joint event with the Bicycle Film Festival. Barry Jenkins grew up in Liberty City before moving to San Francisco and this year for the 2011 Borscht Film Festival I'm producing a short film that Barry will direct.
It's really quite impressive what this collection of filmmakers from FSU have done in the world of micro-independent film. Was there a concerted effort to work and take over the festival circuit?
I've heard it called "the FSU army", it's a helluva school. Cherie was one of my best friends back in college and we worked together a lot. Most of the kids in our class though went to LA.. and got real jobs working for larger, more impressive companies. They're doing really cool things but it takes longer to make a splash that way, I think. Cherie really set out on her own to make movies form the get go. Even still, it took a while to get to a place where she could make her own personal film. This was a long time coming for her.
Editing is a unique process because the editor potentially has a very large influence on the shape the film takes. What was the editing process like? Was Cherie heavily involved?
Editing is a really spectacular craft. The editing process took about three months. I was on set for the duration of filming, which took place in Chipley, FL, about an hour and a half outside of Tallahassee. It was during last year's cold snap and was freezing. We were based out Cherie's parents' house, which is a gorgeous place in an historic neighborhood, but that means the house is really old, with very little insulation and oddly, no hallways. But the important thing is that it was really, really cold. I edited next to a space heater, wearing every article of clothing I had brought with me.
For the month of January, they would bring back the day's footage and I would convert it over night. We'd screening dailies and I'd make notes based on Cherie's comments. Then, while they were out filming the next day, I'd assemble the scenes. There were a few nights of serious, round the clock work but mostly, I was able to keep it to about 12 to 14 hour days. The great thing about this process was that I had a rough assembly of the movie ready on the day they wrapped production, so Cherie was able to see which scenes were working or what shots they needed. Then, I came down to Miami and Cherie joined me a week or two later.
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We stayed at my parent's house and edited for another two months. Cherie sat beside me most of the time. She had a very clear and specific vision for the movie and knew what she wanted. Part of the reason I think she asked me to edit her movie is that we're friends and based on our experience at school, we know we can spend prolonged periods in close proximity and still like each other at the end of it. There's only one, maybe two, scenes in the movie that didn't get heavily reworked during the three-month process but that's how it goes.
After making your festival feature debut, what's next for Andrew Hevia?
Last year I edited two movies, No Matter What was my first feature length drama, and Bots High was my first feature length documentary (Bots High was directed by Joey Daoud, another FSU alum). Bots High will be making it's festival premiere at the Florida Film Festival in April. Then there's the 2011 Borscht film festival where I'll be screening two movies I produced, and one truly bizarre movie that I'm directing based on an idea I had when I was 16, a sci-fi abortion movie called "An Experiment in Pre-Life."
No Matter What premieres at the South By Southwest Film Festival's Emerging Visions program. Visit stayglorious.com.