SPECIAL VIP INTERVIEW FROM IIFF Film – “The Water Shaman Eternal Love Oath” Directed by MARIA A LABONTE

1. Hello Maria, We are grateful to you for giving us an exclusive interview on your project, “The Water Shaman Eternal Love Oath.” We are overjoyed after watching your project. Could you please tell us about your journey with this project?

I started writing this project two years ago, but it has been maturing inside me for a long time. It is a story of love and reincarnation that takes place in ancient India, present-day India, and futuristic India.

2. We see only the trailer, and it tells us about the eternal love for men and women. Can you tell us more about this project?

My project tells the story OF ETERNAL LOVE through ROBOTICS and AI. The story aims to reflect the MAN-MACHINE confrontation, the theme of transhumanism, a very current topic worldwide. I chose India as the place where the story takes place for several reasons; The first is because since I was little I felt attracted to the universal values of Indian culture and its ancestral culture. (I even think I was born in India in another past life) .  India is the largest democracy in the world, I like the humility of its people. The other very obvious reason is the opportunity to show in my film a strong contrast between the ancient culture of India and NEW TECHNOLOGIES. Indian culture and AI will be the basic pillars of the film. My story fits perfectly into the historical and cultural environment of India and its religious beliefs, in a fusion with new technologies. Although the Trailer was filmed in Spain, we made a great effort to find a location, with caves and waterfalls, that would bring us a little closer to the natural landscapes of India. Our main actor Enrique Selfa in the role of the Indian Shaman did a great characterization of the character, with a lot of effort and dedication. The conflict between AI and humans has only just begun. It is a current problem that worries humanity. Can machines completely replace man? My script, Water Shaman, raises precisely this conflict between man and machine, with the aim of transmitting a universal message of alert and reflection.

3. You used a specific location, like a cave and waterfalls. Why did you choose that?

We chose the location to film WS in Valencia Spain, in a cave and a waterfall, with the intention of getting closer to the nature of India, seeking to get closer to the habitat of a Shaman from ancient times. We recognized that it was very difficult, trying to reproduce the exteriors of an Indian forest in Spain, but we tried it with the low budget that our team had. Of course, if we had more budget we would have used new technologies, but that was not the case. We hope to be able to shoot in India to offer scenes in authentic Indian locations.

4. Tell us more about yourself and how you got into this profession

I started my career at the Gerasimov International Film Institute, where I studied Film Direction for 4 years. I wrote and directed several films in the first years after graduating, but I soon discovered my passion for writing, to which I have dedicated my entire life. I have dedicated myself to writing film scripts. Titles like “Visa for a Dream.” “The New American Hustlers.” I am currently the CEO of Hollywood Hispano a non-profit online community of artists and industry professionals whose main goal is to connect Hispanic talent and professionals seeking talent from the television and film industry in the US, with a focus on Los Angeles.

5. Could you share with us some glimpses of your upcoming projects in this industry?

My current plans and in the near future are to continue developing the next chapters of “Water Shaman.” The story is very long because it covers several reincarnations of the lovers in different times, so I am developing several more chapters, – Robot Shaman, Virtually reincarnation and Holographic Shaman” etc., We are also looking for a co-producer to shoot Water Shaman Chapters in India next  2024.

6. What were some of the hardest roles you have taken up in your career, and what were the obstacles on the path of your journey?

The most difficult thing in my career has a common denominator with many young creatives, the difficult access to financing, especially in Spain, where there are many young talents who do not have access to any type of subsidies. There is a lot of talent in Spain. My Spanish team, which filmed WATER SHAMA, in Spain, is a team of talented young people with an average age of 30, and their great talent has led them to create their own creative digital agency, from their own means.

7. You belong to Spain and the USA; what is the difference between the two film industries? How they treat us, tell us about some experience

The Spanish industry basically depends on government subsidies and has nothing to do with the blockbuster productions of the North American film mecca where they do not need public financing. The investment is mostly private and comes from very diverse sources. However, Spain is especially successful in the film industry due to the diversity of locations and the tax incentives that each of them has. There are more and more international filmings and blockbusters in Spain, such as Netflix’s La Casa de Papel or HBO’s Game of Thrones. In my personal experience, in Spain, the actors are very well prepared technically; their resumes are mostly full of different acting courses and renowned Academies of different trends; however, their experience page is semi-empty or empty.

In the United States, the opposite occurs. Actors have their experience page full, which indicates that actors have much more chances to participate in different productions even with very little acting studies, beginners, or zero studies. Another notable difference is the cinema based on the famous Hollywood star. One of the fundamental requirements to present the script to a Hollywood production company is to first present the main movie star, and depending on the prestige and popularity of the star, the script will have more or less chances of success. The waiting list for a new project to be accepted is long. Remakes are a trend and compete with original ideas because getting the film to work at the box office is more important than the original idea. In the most commercial cinema of the Mecca industry, it is difficult for an unknown artist to get a leading role. Only in independent cinema and on the digital platforms of both industries are there more opportunities for scriptwriters and actors with unknown talent (streaming (Movistar+, HBO, Amazon, Netflix, etc.)). These platforms create their own content and, normally, look for new faces for your projects.

There are great talents in Spain, capable of shining as brightly as or brighter than a Hollywood star, who are making their way precisely in independent cinema. This is the case of the Spanish actor Enrique Selfa, who starred in El Shamán in my project. Enrique is a great actor, with whom I was lucky enough to shoot another film, Amy. In conclusion, I agree that here in North America there are many more opportunities for artistic and financial development than in Spain, and that is why I have created my own Hispanic Hollywood platform with the motto of diversity in the industry to support and include Hispanic talent in North American productions.

8. Do You like the Art House film or the Commercial film?

Artistic film emphasizes reality, while a commercial film emphasizes popularity. The production cost of art films is generally much lower than that of commercial films because art film directors do not bother to shoot in exotic locations, hire performers at exorbitant prices, or insist that actors wear costumes. elegant But in conclusion, it is difficult to make the difference between art cinema and commercial cinema, cinema is universal. What matters is the message you send to people.

9. Finally, thank you very much, and what do you want to tell young people about your passion for direction?

I would tell young creative people who are starting out not to wait to receive funding to start creating their projects. Currently, there are new technologies available to most of you, the internet offers many means and platforms in which you can support each other, join creative groups, and support each other, together you will get ahead, the cameras of current mobile phones have evolved to such a point that Now it is possible to use them to make movies as easily as possible. To do this you only need a good location, the actors, and the passion for making a great film, among many other technical aspects of course. And in fact, even before mobile phones could film in 4K, there were filmmakers experimenting with professional and dedicated recording from smartphones, to demonstrate everything that can be done from a simple mobile phone, the kind we have. me too. One of many examples is High Flying Bird.

Steven Soderbergh directed another movie filmed entirely on a phone (iPhone 8 Plus), and this one is called High Flying Bird. Netflix produced this project which is an American sports drama. Use the tools that are within your reach, don’t stop, and don’t wait forever for a subsidy that hasn’t just arrived to make your dreams come true.

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