Kayla de la Cerda, like most of us, remembers eating Lunchables as a kid. Unlike the rest of us, this 18-year-old Miamian was able to incorporate her memory of mystery meat and crackers into a screenplay for With Me. Filmed with Fro Rojas, it screens this Saturday at the Borscht Film Festival.
This accomplished young lady was, according to Borscht, born "three months and three days before the devastation of Hurricane Andrew." (P.S. You're old.) Of Cuban and Chilean descent, de la Cerda currently attends Miami Dade College, focusing on photography, and will be transferring to New World School of the Arts, though she harbors Yale dreams. We talked to de la Cerda about her script, Oreos, and two of her favorite Miami moments, both of which involve Cubans in cars.
Cultist: How'd you get the opportunity to write this short?
Kayla de la Cerda: I was an intern at Borscht. I wrote my own script and submitted it to them and they really really liked it and everything, but they thought I should just come on board with them as an intern and just help them out and stuff. And they told me about Fro (Rojas) and how he lost his writing partner and how he's making this movie. He had a concept for it and he just wanted it to be narrowed down into a treatment. So I set it up in a way where past and present were flipping back and forth. They liked it and so I got together with Fro and hammered out details of the script.
How much creative control did you have over your part of this project?
More or less this is all Fro's idea and concept and vision, but I definitely tried to input my past and details into his story and his vision and everything, and he changed little details. Actually, there was a dispute about the ending, my ending or his ending, we went for an alternative ending for both.
Have you always written, growing up? Is this something new?
It's completely new. I've always wanted to be a filmmaker. I've always been in the arts and stuff, and when it comes to filmmaking, it comes to me more visually. When I think about something, I think more about how it looks than like writing shit. I'm sorry. (Laughs.) So, I saw Borscht and I was like, I need to make my movie. I need to be a part of this, so I wrote. The first time I wrote was the script I submitted.
That's awesome. Have you made other films before?
Not really, just little ones with my friends. Me and my friend, we always come up with these stupid little things to film. They get nowhere and no one sees them.
Now that you've had a taste of the film world, what's your favorite part of the filmmaking process?
I think it's before the filmmaking actually happens, it's the writing process of it, you know, you delve deep into these characters that you want to create, and you get into their heads, and I think that that's the most interesting part.
You said that these characters you wrote have part of your memories, too?
Yeah, I mean, I never had that imaginary friend or anything, but there are things where I feel like it's not always about imaginary friends, it's about like those little things like Lunchables and Oreos that are more like friends than actual things that you create in your head.
Something we all experienced, like we all ate Lunchables. It's like a great thing to use in a movie. They're so gross, but you still ate them because they were so much fun to put together. What do you want to do next?
Before anything, I'm a photographer. I do have concepts for movies and everything, but right now I want to focus on photography.
Do you have a totally Miami experience you could share with us?
Yeah, my stepfather came from Cuba in 1994 in a raft, so when I first met him, when I was four years old, he was super Cuban and we were going to Hialeah all the time and we got like, his car broke down, his old ass BMW shut down at a Sedanos, and we were stranded in Hialeah for a night.
Really? That is crazy.
Oh, and we have a Miata and my stepdad, my mom, and my grandma and I only had that car and we drove from Miami Beach from a Mark Anthony concert to my house over here in one Mazda Miata.
The short "With Me" was conceived and directed by Fro Rojas about a little girl with an active imagination. It stars Josie Loren who was in the best Zac Efron movie ever 17 Again, Lauren Berger, Melvin Lima, Todd Rice, and Marina Vidal. Watch it at the Borscht Film Festival this Saturday, April 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Arsht Center's Knight Concert Hall (1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami). Visit borscht.info.
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