‘LL: You held a contest for the artwork to the film’s poster. Can you tell us a bit more about that?
AR: I’ve been trying to do as much as I can. When I came to Puerto Rico to shoot both times, I felt it was my moral responsibility to give these people a hand. When the time came to do the poster, my friend, Laura Rentas had this idea, and she was like, “Why don’t we continue this thing about giving Puerto Ricans a hand, and make a contest, particularly for students, where they draw something up, and we pick the poster from their submissions?” We did that, and there was a prize—I think it was a $500 prize—and we ended up picking two posters. They were done by two amazing, female, Puerto Rican artists—Nivea Ortiz (instagram.com/nivea_ortiz) and Marili Pizarro (instagram.com/mim_pizarro). The submissions were crazy, man!
‘LL: What was some other charitable work you and the film crew did while out in Puerto Rico?
AR: There’s a character in the movie that’s played by Tony Plana, and the character is based on the guy who in Puerto Rico made me feel that acting was a possibility for a career. [Fr. Francis Golden] sort of pushed me off into that direction. At the same time that I wrote the movie, and the hurricane hit, I decided if I’m going to create a character for him, I also want to do something in his name that goes beyond just telling a story—something that concretely does something good for the community. And so, I started a scholarship in his name. So far, we’ve raised $58,000, and we still have an amount to go because we’re putting a kid from the seventh grade all the way through to the twelfth grade at a school in Puerto Rico, El Colegio San Ignacio, which is one of the best schools in Puerto Rico.
‘LL: What’s some advice that you can offer aspiring filmmakers?
AR: Save your money [laughs]. You have to find a way to weather the ups and downs. In any type of artistic career, those ups and downs are inevitable. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter if you start hot. If you’re there for awhile, it’s going to go up and down. You have to be kind of like Seneca—the Roman philosopher Seneca, not the character in my movie. That’s actually what the initial story is based on, that Roman Stoic, Seneca. His whole M.O. was that you shouldn’t get attached to things. When you get rid of things, you can actually find a deeper meaning, and actually find yourself scratching at what is actually itching you deep inside. I think that’s important for artists in general.Photo by Nivea Ortiz & Marili Pizarro