This past summer, I lensed a docudrama mini-series, 'Leyendas Del Exilio' for acclaimed director Lilo Villaplana about Cuban political prisoners; men and women who spent their lives fighting for a democratic Cuba. I worked on the second season, which will air shortly in AmericaTeVe.
Aside from capturing incredible testimonies, we also dramatized historical events that originally took place in Havana, the Sierra, Playa Giron, Madrid, Miami, and various Cuban prisons.
Lilo, who directed Fox's 'El Capo' TV series (among other accomplishments), is an efficient director who knows how to take advantage of Miami's varied landscape. He taught me a great deal about how to create footage with a vintage look by working with elements inside the frame, and carefully planned locations. Lilo had a great cast and local crew that made magic happen despite a tight budget and Miami's steamy summer weather.
Some of our stories were tales of prison abuse. Our sets were tight and we lit them to make them feel even more oppressive. By staying close to the action and by shooting hand-held, we made sure the audience could feel the intensity of the physical violence and the helplessness of the victims. The dirty lighting and the lack of sunlight were also expressions of the prisoner's feelings.
Some political prisoners were abused in the fields of prison camps; we show their struggles at different times of the day and under a variety of tough conditions.
In the following weeks, I will share how we chose to convey these true stories cinematically.