Hartford Advocate

From the Archives: Article
Hartford Advocate (CT)
April 28, 2011
Section: News
Edition: Hartford
Page: A47
Column: Indie Film

Hartford Vérité
Local filmmakers make a mockumentary


Write to bsnyder@hartfordadvocate.com

You can trace the origins of the mockumentary as far back as Orson Welles’ infamous spoof-radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938, during which unwitting listeners, who thought they were tuning into a real radio news program, panicked that the planet was being attacked by aliens. More than a million people were reported to have been duped. That was a more serious time, and it’s easy to imagine such humor being, at least, underappreciated. Today, reality TV and mockumentaries make up much of our most popular entertainment.

The mockumentary format employs handheld cameras and long, single takes, which makes it conducive to indie filmmakers on a budget and a deadline, like Hartford’s Giovanny and Rafael Blanco, the director-producer brother team who were filming their own mockumentary in Hartford last week. Their film, The LastIntervention, is a send-up of the reality show “Intervention,” which helps stage and execute confrontations with people suffering various addictions. The Last Intervention follows that same template; it’s about a Dominican family who believe their angsty teenage daughter is addicted to something (they don’t know what), and call in a reality-show program to help them sort her out. I talked to the Blancos in the basement of their family’s house in Hartford’s South End, where chunks of the film were being shot last week. The script, a mix of script and improvisation, was written by Giovanny’s wife, Sarah Thorp, and is based loosely on the Blanco boys’ experience as misunderstood teenagers in Hartford.

“We were walking around Hartford with long hair and Metallica T-shirts” when they were teens, says Giovanny. “Our [extended] family told my parents they were raising two Satanists.”

The Blancos and I stood near the laundry machines and chatted about Jim Jarmusch and Francis Ford Coppola and “The Office,” some of the brothers’ favorites, while cast and crew members sat on coolers and trekked up and down the stairs, grabbing snacks from a long table of refreshments.

Giovanny is directing the film as a sort of birthday present to himself; he just celebrated his 40th. He set a goal of making a movie in only 90 days, figuring a deadline would prevent stagnation. He met up with a childhood friend, David Salazar, who’s done commercial filming (notably the Dos Equis “most interesting man” commercials), and the two stayed up all night making a music video. They had so much fun doing that, Giovanny says, that they decided to collaborate on something bigger.

The Last Intervention features Hemky Madera, a comic actor who you’d probably recognize from the show “Weeds.” Giovanny says he’s a fan of Madera’s work from that show and Madera’s other movie roles, and when he discovered Madera, like Giovanny and Rafael, is Dominican, he messaged him through Facebook to see if he’d be interested in appearing in the Blancos’ film. Madera agreed, and the brothers flew him out to New York from L.A. to film for a couple of days. (They harvested their other actors from New York and from in and around Hartford.) Having just wrapped up shooting this week, the filmmakers have only six weeks to edit to meet their deadline. Then they’ll begin submitting their production to various film festivals.

Giovanny says the cast and crew have had fun making the movie, filming silly side videos and improvising as they go. But though it’s a comedy about family struggle and personal crisis, it’s also got a more serious message: “It’s not easy to quit your family,” he says.

Write to bsnyder@hartfordadvocate.com

Illustration: Photo(s)

Photo: Rafael and Giovanny Blanco. HELDER MIRA PHOTO

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