Developing the Film
The first priority we had as filmmakers was developing the story, focusing on the story arcs of all the central characters, making sure every scene pulled the audience into the psychological center of the story. In this case the center of the story is Filly (Gina). The first way we did this was by situation- we cut out all extraneous exposition.
Every scene is a situation that informs story, that pushes an arc, that feeds back to the central story, every choice affecting the central character so that even when you're not with her, the situation that is unfolding is so intensely affecting her that you are on the edge of your seat. It makes it feel that our central character is in every frame of the film -- and she is, only sometimes it's through the lives of the other characters.
Once the script was where we envisioned we presented it to our producing team. The response was overwhelmingly positive, if cautious. Edward's exact words were, "If you can find the lead, I'm in. But good luck, because the whole film will depend on her - if you can't find her no one will buy the [reality] of the story."
Casting the lead character, Filly Brown, was the next big challenge we tackled. Initially we were hoping to find a rapper we could mold into an actor. By the time casting began, Khool-Aid and E-Dub Rios of Silent Giant Entertainment had come onto the team. As pioneers of Latin Hip Hop, they were tasked with guarding the authenticity of the music and the world and they began right away by bringing in talented female MC's as potential leads. But the realization soon set in that our timetable was perhaps a little too ambitious. Whether it was turning an MC into a credible actress or an actress into a credible rapper, it was starting to look like it would take longer than anticipated.
Little did we know that a screening the summer before at LALIFF held our answer. A couple of members of the team had been at the screening of "Go For It" and had seen Gina Rodriguez in her amazing supporting role. Remembering that fearless performance, we brought her in to audition She killed the dramatic part of the audition, and then broke into an impromptu rap. We kept our composure, but we knew right away.
The final piece of the puzzle came together at the end of 2010. Everyone on the team had been scouring for financing in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression when Kevin Smith came forward with enough guts and vision to take a chance on our project. The moment Kevin (not that Kevin Smith) committed to financing the film, we were officially in pre-production.
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