New Orleans Film Fest is in full swing! With premieres and parties going on all over town, the festival is the fruition of months of hard work from organizers and filmmakers alike.
Twenty-nine-year-old Blayre Pichon has family with New Orleans roots. Her film “The Beach” is in the Louisiana Shorts sections of the fest, and she talked to us about the work behind the scenes.
When did you start getting into film?
“I didn’t start getting into film, really until college. Like, in high school I was into photography, and I loved doing it because it was like in a dark room. And it was still on film so that was fun. I only started getting into the video side of it in college.”
How’d you start making “The Beach”?
“So I have a company called Waasi films, it’s a film production company and I co-manage it with Toroes Thomas, a fellow filmmaker. I came down here about two years ago to do a documentary and during that time Toroes’ father passed away. So we kind of just put all of these events, things he was writing down about his life and his own story, and we wanted to do a film. I think for him it was a labor of love, but also like healing and going through grief. So, I co-wrote it with him and we were chopping it down. Like, ‘Okay, let’s go through these memories and this whole feature film that you have that we wrote and chop it down to a short.’ That’s kind how it goes with film, even when you’re indie, you try to shoot the short and kind of get eyes on it, see how it flows and get that funding for the feature. So we ended up putting together a short called ‘The Beach.’ It’s a story about a father who is struggling to keep a promise to his children that he tells them but he can’t keep it. It’s based on Toroes’ actual life and an instant that happened while he was growing up.”
What other roles did you play in the making of the film?
“I was a producer on this. So basically that’s like keeping everything together. Organizing, wrangling, connecting with the cast and crew, and just keeping the ship sailing. We had a team of 20 people, and that would include our cast and crew, which is actually the largest crew we’ve had. That was awesome to be able to work with a lot of talented people.”
How did it get into the film festival here?
“Once we finished the short, we said let’s submit it to festivals, get some eyes on it and get some feedback. So, we submitted it to the New Orleans Film Fest. We actually attended the festival last year but we weren’t in it. We just wanted to network and meet people. The film festival here has a lot of opportunities, globally as well. Having different workshops and the talks that they have are great for filmmakers. We applied and we got in, so that was awesome. ”
What’s next for you as a filmmaker?
“Right now we’re just trying to finish our documentary called “Take Me Back To New Orleans.” It’s about the changing demographics in the city and the struggle for people trying to find affordable housing. So we’re talking with families who are still here and trying to maintain their residency here and families who have left and we’re trying to figure out why they haven’t come back, and what can be done to get people back in their homes.”
Pichon’s film “The Beach” will be shown at 1:30 p.m. Thursday (Oct. 25) at the Contemporary Arts Center in the Warehouse event space as part of the Louisiana Shorts – Terra series of the New Orleans Film Festival.
(Editor’s Note/Disclosure: Blayre Pichon is an employee with Hearst Television – the parent company of Very Local New Orleans.)