Back in June 2020 in the height of stay-at-home orders and quarantining around the world, Stage 32 member and actor Solana Paz put together a short film about Father's Day, 100% remotely, featuring 38 actors in over 16 different locations. Be sure to check out her amazing blog about how she did it here. We also chatted about her remote production process on live on Instagram, you can watch our chat here.
Now, in honor of International Women's Day earlier this month, Solana put together another amazing short film - this time, featuring 18 women sharing one powerful message carried out in 8 different languages. To close out women's history month, I asked Solana to write a blog about the production process from pre-production to post.
Take it away Solana!
18 women, 10 ethnicities, 8 languages, 1 message: Together we are more powerful and astonishing.
The goal for this video was to manifest the fact that: When many voices come together as one, with the same mindset and passion, all these voices that go beyond mother tongues and cultures, can speak the same language: That of unity, a tight bond, solidarity, strength, empowerment and love.
And it certainly has accomplished that!
It all started with the idea of making a tribute to women of all ages, sizes, ethnicities, sexual orientation, home country and philosophies, that would transcend generations. To celebrate us. To recognize us.
Women from all over the Bay Area were cast by my reaching out to them personally, or through Facebook posts.
With a clear vision and goal I approached Ezequiel Frelli, my forever writing partner, and asked him to put into words all these thoughts and feelings I had in my head. And that he did, plus some. The script was first written in Spanish, like all of the scripts I've co-written with Ezequiel. It was then translated and reworded as needed into English with the help of Christine Oneto.
After the project was cast with such a diverse group of women, we had a script that was technically ready to be performed in eight different languages -- not an easy task; but we made it happen! These languages were: English, Spanish, Mandarin, French, Bengali, Italian, Malayalam, and a splash of Tagalog.
At the early stages of the pandemic, and still unaware of what it would turn into, Leo Moring, one of my favorite cinematographers for many reasons, set up a studio in my garage in San Francisco, and that's where we shot it, in one day.
Each actor received the script in advance. However, it was important to me that they didn't arrive memorized. I longed for each line to be its own statement as opposed to flow like a narration, so that each line would carry the strength, impact and emotion it did.
Behind the Scenes "Happy International Women's Day"
It was so fascinating to experience this parade of fabulous women that day through my very own house! Each of them ready to take on the world and bring everyone else along with them.
They all read the full script in English. Then, those who felt strongly about certain lines, read those a few extra times. Later in editing, I made sure that they were shown on the video delivering those specific lines.
Women had been asked to dress however they felt the best and the most empowered. I had also encouraged them to bring props and creative ideas for the delivery of their individual lines. This added extra fun to the day!
Those who spoke a second language, such as Germaine Gaudet (French), WeiJen Liao (Mandarin), Keila Michelle (Italian), Roshni Datta (Bengali), Milly Thomas (Malayalam), Nina Martina (Tagalog), Carolina Fascetto, Jessica Marét and myself (Spanish) read the script in other languages as well. It really came together, as all the languages melded to make a contiguous yet diverse message.
This was my first real editing job I completed solo. I wanted to do it myself because I had an extremely clear vision and idea of how I wanted this piece to "feel." The film was very much a synergetic effort and I wanted it to represent that.
And I spent many, many hours staring at these women's faces, hearing their voices over and over, in different languages, seeing their feelings and passion in their eyes and bodies and realizing that, even if this video didn't make it anywhere, I had just been responsible for energizing and empowering 18 women. And I have to admit that I'm fighting tears of joy (again) as I type this.
So as you see, once the whole film came together, it was so much more than what I had originally dreamed it to be. Along the way, we had so many little moments that made it even that much more special. Some of these, I've captured for you below. Enjoy!
Behind the Scenes "Happy International Women's Day"
QUOTES from some of the astonishing women who participated in this video:
"Anything empowering women and celebrating women is very important to me. For me to say women are “astonishing” especially in my French language was amazing. Every woman from past generations, my great grandmother, grandmothers, mother, aunts and now sisters and nieces and dearest friends are astonishing women - strong, never ending working, fearless yet always afraid they aren’t doing enough. That’s the sad part! We carry so much burden. I am proud to have been a part of an early feminist movement. It’s an honor to participate in celebrating women, especially the ones who give, stand out for the right reasons, are intelligent, good mothers, mentors and caring community-driven individuals. The ones, who if they could lead countries would truly make the world a better, more collaborative peaceful place." -- Germaine Gaudet
"Collaborating with Solana on her International Women’s Day video was as much fun as it looked! She embraced my idea to be myself (a professional clown) in the video, and it’s been a delight to share our passion for acting together over the years. She brings such a professional, fun and kind energy to her work." -- Ceci Walken
"I was happy to be asked to be part of Sol’s video honoring women. Loved sharing the spotlight with friends and meeting new ones. When l saw the final cut, it touched me to see the expression of beauty, energy, love and joy in the culmination of international women coming together to celebrate womanhood." -- Nina Martina
“I have never been through the journey of being a mother yet but I am thrilled to play a character who is pregnant, I discovered how beautiful and moving it is to be a woman in each different life stage. The opportunity to be part of this group serves me to encourage myself and others to be proud of who and where we are today. I learned a lot from the experience of being a woman again” -- WeiJen Liao
"Being part of this project made me feel the strength we have, and see me reflected in each one of us. Thank you very much Solana, for the amazing work and the effort behind it, so that what we carry inside can be seen." -- Carolina Fascetto
Behind the Scenes "Happy International Women's Day"
"I loved being a part of this uplifting and people affirming piece of film. Huge respect for (our director and producer) Solana’s approach to business, friendship, family, creativity, and the opportunity to personally mark the day to be more significant than just simply a calendar date, prompted an enthusiastic agreement from me, when I was invited to film this ‘International Women’s Day,’ short.
The day of the shoot, I felt excited: strong, worthy, and grateful to my friends of all genders, and those who came before me, in the last 100 years, that my sense of self allowed for this. Yet, even that feeling paled in comparison to the exuberance we all felt, beautifully buoyed by several hours in each other’s company, once the day’s shoot was over. Solana gathered together a diverse group of young girls and strong minded, intelligent, talented, warm-hearted working women, and it was so much fun and...extraordinarily validating!
The flow of the shoot, the mix of personalities, the warm camaraderie between everyone participating, and the success of the camera in capturing some of the warmth, humor and drive present, all attest to the power of purpose...and it’s clear from viewers' positive responses that it struck a chord. Like many things, International Women's Day benefits from action and participation...it’s imperative we take time to applaud and acknowledge people and challenges, personally, otherwise, it is simply another day passing by, albeit one with a fancy title.
Participating in this beautiful and empowering visual compilation was particularly affirming. Watching the fluidity of the beautiful and poignant, final visuals was, and still is, ah-maz-ing! I adored how the finished clip seamlessly flowed, and reflected to the world at large the grace, intelligence, wit and good humor of women. Solana has a vibrant and focused spirit, and gathered such a great group together to showcase something important. Watching my friends, family and co-workers all respond to the beautifully edited final piece, and seeing the camaraderie it encouraged, was inspiring to the nth level!" -- Justin Ryan
Argentine blooded Solana (when you meet her you'll be able to tell immediately) is an award-winning actress and producer who has appeared in dozens of films and tv shows speaking in both English and Spanish. You can see her in feature films such as Go To Hell And Turn Left and Triggered and many short format films such as Sommer’s Vacation, where she plays the legendary character Cholita, chasing chupacabras. You may also recognize her educational and soothing voice in Highlights Magazine and Pure Edge, Inc. videos. She has most recently produced the International WOWen’s PSA, and the Happy Father’s Day PSA just released globally during the pandemic in June 2020, for both the English and Spanish speaking audiences.
With a particular passion for and extensive training in comedy, she works in both Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Don't let her wit, goofiness, and charming personality fool you! Her dark side has shown up in many characters she's played over the years and can make your hair stand on end!
Previous Stage 32 blogs by Solana:
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