NY Fashion Week

BéMai Productions took the opportunity to go to the 2014 Mercedes Benz Fall Fashion Week in New York City. We were working on the television show Fashion Gone Local (FGL) with Yoanna House, who is best known as the cycle 2 winner of America’s Next Top Model. FGL revealed the latest fashions and trends from the world of high fashion and it showed how they are integrated and inspired at the local level.

Once we landed in New York City, we got straight to work. The traffic was crazy, and it was backed up until we got to our hotel. Thank goodness for NYC taxi drivers, they are no joke! We got to our hotel in 20mins. Once we arrived, we got dressed, Yoanna was ready, and we went straight to our first location. There were so many showcases, displays of new products, and chances to interview the fantastic designers there. We saw products from Hard Candy to OPI nail polish; we saw clothes from Carmen Marc Valvo, and we even got a chance to interview Rebecca Taylor.

One person I’ll never forget is J. Alexander also known as Miss J. At first I didn’t recognize him, but once I realized that he was from America’s Next Top Model, I let Miss J get camera-ready. We interviewed him, and he gave us his opinion of all his likes and dislikes during Rebecca Taylor’s runway show. He chose his words very carefully, and this was when I learned to choose your words wisely and how it all comes into play.

I also learned that the Big Apple is also very small, I thought Time Square would be much bigger. This was where the ball drops every year on TV? I am too claustrophobic to ever want to visit during the New Year. I’m a southern baby, I like open spaces and a chance to move around as much as I please.

The experience in New York City was an eye-opener. We got a chance to experience the fast-paced world of television, fashion, paparazzi, celebrities, and the “fake it until you make it” type of people.  New Yorkers walk with confidence, they are who they are, and I love how no one cares about other people’s opinions. The streets are their runways, and it’s personalized to their own taste.

Lona del Amor

This production was a full destination trip to the islands of Puerto Rico. With a very small crew of the producer, director, and cinematographer we had to double up the responsibility to keep this production under budget. With help from our island friends, I believed that we could do just that. All of the cast members had to be Puerto Rican of course, and we shot in the Director’s hometown of Penuelas.

The entire production was a cultural experience, and not knowing how to speak Spanish was a great challenge for me, but I left all of the Spanish speaking to the director, Eddie Alicea Gonzalez. We took the trip to Puerto Rico in September 2013; Eddie and I visited the island just to see what we could get access too. San Juan was our original location, but with all the tourism and regulation stuff, Penuelas became the better choice.

As production was taking place, the town of Penuelas showed us so much support. The school’s theater was our meeting grounds and source for talent. We did our table reads there, conducted interviews, took headshots during auditions, and so much more. The government of Penuelas blocked the streets for us and allowed us to shoot there without interference from the local traffic- it was incredible.

 While on the trip, we filmed in the mountains, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, I fell and cut my right foot while I was up there. I didn’t want to go to the emergency room, so I settled for the local corner store- I took care of the cut like a champ. I lost the toenail from my big toe, but like I always say, “I’ll be fine.”

With my toe massively wrapped with bandages, we continued with the production. I became a little handicapped, but that wasn’t going to slow us down. Oh, no! The locals really helped us when they could. We had ten scenes to shoot, and it was a rough week of shooting for the three of us.

On the last day of the shooting, it happened to be the Festival del Flamboyan. It was kind of like fall during summer time. The trees leaves were turning yellow, orange, and mostly red, and it gave the town a very warm color. The sun was out and the wind was blowing cool fresh air.

While the locals celebrated the Festival, it felt like a scene from the Fast and the Furious, at the gas station plaza cars were everywhere. It was the definition of a true block party for about five blocks. The music would make your hips pop, and watching the people enjoy themselves was beautiful, but before we knew it, it was time for shots! Shots, and more shots! It was a great way to end production.

Everyone at the festival knew who we were, and we even found out people were late to work because of our shoot, but it was cool, they knew we were just filmmakers trying to show the people of Puerto Rico in their true light. The power of film.

Kingdom of Karza

The art department was a very big part of this production; the crew took hours to work on things from wardrobe to location.  It took a lot of hard work and dedication to bring the Kingdom of Karza to life. Creating a steampunk themed script took guts, and we had to use what was in our hand.

I worked very closely with every cast and crew member; getting the cast measurements for wardrobe, having them practice their British accents, making sure that we ran 3 cameras at all times, and helping with the 4K lighting- I made it my mission to be there for everything.

On production week, the rain took us by surprise; everything was going a little too perfect so I guess we needed an obstacle. We were just about to say action, and suddenly I felt a raindrop, I started to yell, “Everyone run for shelter!” The rain poured like we hadn’t had any in years, I thought to myself, “Wow, really?” The actors were running, the crew scrambled for the equipment- we had to think fast, and on that day I learned that I was a true leader.

I barked out all my orders, and most of my equipment went under a tent, but there was so much water on top of it. I was certain the tent would fall in, but luckily I had the second one. I grabbed a few crew members to carry the tent over. We moved everything and everyone under the stronger tent.

The rain continued to pour down on us like we were in hurricane season, but we got everything out of the rain. The cast and crew turned to me like, “What are we go to do now?” They wanted to finish this, and so did I. My heart just dropped, and I even cried a little on the inside.

I had to think fast, what was my plan B for this? I sent everyone home and started brainstorming. I drove around all night looking for the next location, the police pulled me over, and my gas tank was empty but I refused to give up. When I finally found my new location, all my hard work had paid off. I couldn’t be to upset, we live in Florida: home of bugs, shootings, and thunderstorms. I learned my lesson that day.

Besides the rain that caused so much damage, the team was able to see this production all the way through to the end. Their curiosity of what this production could be brought them closer to creating a world I had created in my mind. I often ask myself, what was I thinking? Trying to create a steampunk world in Jacksonville Florida, but honestly, thinking outside of the box is more fun than worrying about rain.