After the death of her father, a young female boxer must complete her training from the only man who was able to beat her dad in the ring.
We got the chance to discuss the entertainment industry with Writer & Director Derek Johnson II and the sacrifices it takes to become a successful filmmaker.
For me, I find it therapeutic and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I have a need to create. It’s like an itch I have to scratch. I have several very different interests, ranging from biology, to politics, and even music. Film is a way that I can combine all the things that I love. Like many Americans, media has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember.
For me, the biggest hump is always finding time to give to others. I sacrifice a lot of my regular social life, so I solved this by working on projects almost exclusively with my friends who are in the same field. Working AND socializing at the same time is my favorite kind of multitasking. I’m just lucky enough to know talented people.
Sweating Sand is about a female Mexican boxer seeking a trainer. I’m a huge fan of action and I also enjoy boxing. However, I didn’t want to seem like I was ripping off any of the SEVERAL boxing franchises out there. So instead of focusing on boxing, I focused on the people. The characters were always something that drew me to making the project.
Most interestingly was finding my lead, Maria del Pozo. I had tons of models apply for the role. Unfortunately, the problem with hiring models is that they look like models, not fighters. I was actually worried until my friend told me about a director my character reminded him of. I met Maria and even though she had never acted before, I knew she was perfect for the role. She’s Mexican, has the same name as the character and used to box. How could I pass that up?
My crew was a combination of mine and my producer’s contacts. I believe you must have a strong relationship with everyone on set or else you're more likely to run into what I call “Gossip problems”.
Interesting conflict. My brothers and sisters of film, PLEASE have interesting conflict. Every independent filmmaker complains that people have smaller attentions spans nowadays. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. If it was, people wouldn’t binge watch their favorite shows. No, what makes a film worth watching is having someone go through conflict that we haven’t seen before or in a unique way. That means no suicide films. We all know how it ends.
Make the process move faster somehow. I know that’s a crazy and borderline stupid thing to say, but this is show business. The only business where people are comfortable with putting out one product every five years. As someone who used to own a company, that’s just not good business. Marvel and Disney put out at least one every year for a decade and basically invented a genre. THAT’s good business.
Don’t do it for money. Unless you decide that you only want to go the studio route, understand that about 95% of creatives in this industry are ones that you’ve never heard of and may NEVER hear. Remember that this business is about a century old. Meaning that some on has to decide to hire you over their own child who is most likely going to join the family business. And to those of you who already have connections, don’t listen to me. Go. Use your connection and get started.
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