Anything Goes : Arizona Auteur - Marcelo Dietrich by Marcelo Dietrich

Marcelo Dietrich

Arizona Auteur - Marcelo Dietrich

Written for SW Film, Media & Broadcast Magazine. Arizona Auteur. Independent filmmaking is work! If one wants to be successful - whatever that term means - in indie film, one has to be constantly on the move. If one wants to be screenwriter, producer and director, the work is a 24/7/365 job. That’s why we had to catch Marcelo Dietrich at a local coffee shop for our sit-down chat. One of the many projects he is working on is Arizona 10 Short Films. He is on the move! We were able to talk with Marcelo Dietrich about a number of topics. Filmmaker. Dietrich is not an actor-turned director. “One time, when I was 13 years old, I was playing with my G. I. Joe action figures. The Joe’s were about to stage an attack in the early morning hours on the Cobra Base, where they were holding Scarlet captive. I had to pause. I realized that I was coming up on the third act in this imaginary world, this imaginary story that I had created.” Dietrich shares a crucial, life-altering epiphany. “I realized that my imagination was too big to limit myself to just being an actor – not to discredit acting. I realized at that instant that my purpose in life is to be a writer and director… an auteur.” Auteur au·teur ōˈtər/ noun noun: auteur; plural noun: auteurs A filmmaker whose personal influence and artistic control over a movie are so great that the filmmaker is regarded as the author of the movie. While watching Dietrich’s films, it is very evident that he is a true auteur. His style is expressed subtly, yet somehow, obviously. “I’m influenced by filmmakers that I look up to; Michael Mann, John Sayles, Christopher Nolan, John Cassavetes, Quentin Tarantino.” Each of these filmmakers are writers, producers & directors as well. “Frank Lloyd Wright the architect, Claude Monet the painter, James Ellroy the author, Raul Malo (of The Mavericks) the songwriter/musician/singer. Even Sigmund Freud the neurologist! These people also influence my writing and my filmmaking style.” Knowing this makes Dietrich’s style obvious, yet subtly. Arizona 10 Short Films. According to Dietrich, Arizona 10 Short Films is a "collection of 10 short films that take place in Arizona and I’ve written, am producing and will direct. This is a very ambitious project that I am very excited for.” Dietrich has written each of the 10 screenplays – 15 in fact. He chose the ten that meant the most to him. “Last December, I was looking at producing and directing one of my feature length screenplays. I then started giving thought to writing a short screenplay for an idea I had and I really like the script! I started to wonder if I could do that 9 more times and a total of 15 screenplays were born!” “The idea of working with a number of actors of various demographics started to appeal to me. I’m a ‘people person’ and I love talking with and getting to know people” Being that Dietrich is “an actor first”, this makes sense. “I’m especially excited to collaborate with Joseph Becker, my cinematographer. He and I have collaborated on 3 other projects thus far – all 3 being short films – and it has been an amazing experience. We are always on the same page, sharing the same vision. He understands the importance of cinematography.” Joseph Becker is an award-winning cinematographer and actor. He’s also a multi-hyphenate with experience in several aspects of film and television production. “I am truly fortunate to work with him on Arizona 10.” “Our Hair and Make up artist, Dania Blanco Cosmiix Artistry, is amazing! I’ve collaborated with her on 2 other projects. She goes above and beyond my expectations. One of the many things I truly appreciate about her approach to a gig is that she likes to read the script to not only find out the hair & make up needs, but to get a full understanding of the script.” Why Arizona? Although Dietrich was born in California and takes great pride in that, Arizona is a very special place for him. “I was born in California and my family moved to Tempe, Arizona when I was 3. We actually almost moved to Flagstaff and Sedona. I’ve also lived in Mesa, Payson and Chandler. There’s something very special about this state. That’s evident in the sunsets alone!” Each of the Arizona 10 short films takes place in a different town or city in Arizona. “I really want to showcase our state to not only other Arizonians, but to as many people as possible – and as many filmmakers as possible! Every state in the United States can be replicated right here in Arizona. That bodes well for bringing more production to our state.” Which towns and cities? “We’ve locked Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, Tucson, Sierra Vista and Payson. We’re looking at Flagstaff, Jerome and Sedona.” Why those towns and cities? “I want the setting of each of the films to enhance the feeling, the mood, themes of each film.” Here’s some of that Michael Mann influence. “Mann has a way of making the city in which his films take place, become a character of their own. Los Angles for Heat, Miami for Miami Vice.” Genre. “Of his books, Stephen King has said that they are about ‘ordinary people, in extraordinary situations’, and that’s brilliant!” Dietrich has a different angle. “Each of the Arizona 10 short films is about ordinary people, in ordinary situations. One film is about a retired veteran dealing with PTSD, one film looks into organ transplants, another film is about why people come to America… Ordinary people in ordinary situations that we’re all familiar with and have possibly experienced.” “I’ve always loved dramas. If you look at any film – regardless of the genre, it’s in the dramatic scenes that we feel; that impact us; that we learn. Drama’s have won more Academy Awards than any other genre of film.” There’s more to it than that. Here’s some of that Sigmund Freud influence. “In Arizona 10 Short Films, we are going to delve into the psyche of the characters. We are going to understand why they do and say the things they do.” Dietrich then admits “If I wasn’t a filmmaker, I’d be a counselor.” The Screenwriter. How did Dietrich get into writing? “Even prior to realizing my life’s purpose, I loved writing. When I was in second grade, instead of writing each of my (weekly assigned) spelling words into sentence, I would write entire stories. Fortunately for me, Mrs. Gustafson allowed and encouraged that instead of suppressing it.” Is their potential for any of those stories to become a film? “Possibly! I remember a story about a lion that was in the circus. He loved performing for the kids. He didn’t know that lions were supposed to be the king of the jungle. He loved what he did because it made people happy.” Do writers write from their subconscious? “Absolutely we do. We must. We have to connect with readers. It’s all about empathy.” Is there a little of Marcelo Dietrich in any of the characters. “Yes.” Where did the stories for Arizona 10 come from? “Life. The story about a family finding solace in another family member’s poetry was influenced by Brittany Maynard.” (Brittany Maynard utilized aid-in-dying laws in Oregon to take a life-ending drug after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.) “Another film is a biography cloaked in another story.” Dietrich would not tell me which film it is. The Producer. What is a producer and what do they do? “There are different kinds of producers. A producer basically handles logistics - from finding a script to securing distribution. Logistics in legalities, finances and everything else you could imagine.” It sounds very involving. “It is! I relish every second of it. That’s really where the 24/7/365 comes into play. I think every filmmaker should be producer of their projects. It’s part of being an auteur.” The Director. Dietrich states “while I am a screenwriter, producer and director, I was and am an actor first.” He stresses this to all of the actors he works with. “I want them to know that I know that it’s like to be an actor; to do what they have to do and what is expected from them.” According to the actors he’s worked with, this makes a difference. Does being an actor help in connecting with actors? “‘Connecting’ is a great way to put it. When you mentally and emotionally connect with an actor, it makes for a more meaningful & powerful performance and film. It also makes for a beautiful personal relationship.” That has to help an actor’s confidence. “It does. And as a director that is just one very crucial part of our job. On a films set, in all its business and people, it all comes down to my actor and I. The director must provide whatever the actor needs to give their best performance.” Are you speaking from experience as an actor? “Yes! I once had a director ask me ‘are you a monkey see or are you a monkey do?’ When I replied with a strong ‘What!?’, he replied ‘you’re doing a good job’. I’ve yet to see that short film. The way actors are sometimes treated is very disgusting. That’s a whole other story!” The Actor. “I love being a part of an entity whose purpose is to convey messages/themes that elicit emotion & stimulate thought & dialogue.” Marcelo Dietrich Dietrich has been acting since kindergarten. “From a young age, I was in choir at church and chorus in school, performing in musicals and plays.” What was the draw in performing? “I loved being a part of a story. I loved watching audience members react to the music or the action. Regardless of your role in production, that should be your goal – ‘to convey messages/themes that elicit emotion & stimulate thought & dialogue’.” Dietrich is currently cast in a Spanish television series that is to air on DirectTV & CineMexicana in all of North, Central and South America. (Unfortunately, through the fault of "the producers", this series never came to fruition.) “My true love, is theater acting. There are no ‘takes’, there is no ‘fix it post’. You’re there. It’s live. It’s raw. It’s nerve-racking, nauseating. It’s fun and addictive! What was it Terrence Mann said about acting? “Movies will make you famous; Television will make you rich, But theatre will make you good.” Is there a noticeable difference between theater actors and films actors? “Yes. But, I’m going to keep that a secret amongst us “theater geeks’.” As a director, do you notice a difference? (Marcelo takes a few seconds to respond.) “I know that theater actors are willing to sacrifice a lot of their time for a story. That’s time away from their loved ones; often times for four hours a day on weekdays and 8 hours on Saturdays and Sundays for months or years at a time. That’s the epitome of dedication to a story.” Personal influence. “My Pop is my biggest supporter. He’s no longer with us in his physical form, but I sense his presence. He has always encouraged and believed in me. My little brother, James, has had a strong influence as well. He and I have a philosophy that we call ‘the number 26 factor. You give 100%, 100% of the time. When he played Pop Warner and High School Football he wore the number 26. His favorite football player, Rod Woodson from the Pittsburgh Steelers wore number 26. At one of James’ practices, I noticed that he was giving 100%, 100% of the time. What’s next? “I have a few feature length screenplays I’m going to produce and direct. A good friend of mine and I are looking into a TV series. My teaser “The Horologist.” is getting some great attention.” What’s the plan for Arizona 10 Short Films? “We have big plans for Arizona 10. We're going to submit each of the 10 short films to as many short film Oscar-qualifying short film festivals as possible. We are seeking distribution on the premiere American view on demand platform for indie filmmakers. We’re also looking into international distribution.” “It’s the “number 26 factor”, 24/7/365. You have to just keep moving!” Written for SW Film, Media & Broadcast Magazine.

Raymond Scott

It is true, as I have collaborated with Marcelo on many occasions. He is a true filmmaker, his work Arizona 10 is a fabulous collection of emotional mind opening thoughts as one could get, truely an genuine man.

Marcelo Dietrich

Thank you, Mr. Scott. I truly appreciate your sentiment. It has been amazing to collaborate with you & I look forward to many more future collaborations!

Joe Becker

Very glad to be a part of this project. Excited to see it coming together. Marcelo writes touching, emotion filled stories, so they're already good. Adding the scenery of different locations in Arizona is a bonus.

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