New York Film Academy alumnus Miguel Garzon Martinez has been hard at work on his latest project, “The Broken Legacy.” Now that the film has completed it’s festival run, it is available to stream on Amazon and Vimeo.
Martinez sat down with us to talk about his experience writing, directing, and editing the project.
NYFA: Tell us a little about your latest project?
Martinez: “The Broken Legacy” is a personal project for me. It came from a mixture of past experiences. This was an incredible opportunity to explore those experiences. I was able to share my own thoughts about how the world works. Before I came to study at NYFA, I was a teacher at a high school back home in Colombia. I had some crazy experiences that taught me many things about the nature of people, and about myself as well.
Originally the film was set in a high school. But then I realized that in order for me to make it happen within my budget I had to make some changes. I changed the setting to a research facility where the characters are forced to live together, which definitely amps up the stakes and the drama. But, at the end of the day, I wanted to portray the light and darkness that lives inside of all of us, which I show personified in the two leads: Steven and Tomás.
NYFA: Why is this story important to you?
Martinez: I needed to tell the story of “The Broken Legacy” because it’s heavily based on my own experiences. Sharing something so personal with the world is terrifying and difficult. I felt that as a filmmaker I had something to say, and that feeling continued to bug me until it became this film. However, my intention is not to preach or to tell people what to think or how to behave. For me, it was very important to portray characters who were honest. I tried to show every side of the conflict.
NYFA: What was the hardest part of making this film?
Martinez: When I think about my biggest challenge making this film, and maybe this answer is not as thrilling, but it was unexpected to me as well: it was editing. When you’re so close to something you stop seeing things. It becomes harder and harder to judge what is working and what isn’t working.
After several months of work in post-production and some test screenings, I had to make a very difficult decision. I stepped away from editing and hired an editor to do a new cut from scratch. I had to do what was in the best interest for the film.
I had a wonderful editor, Aashish Mayur Shah, who brought so many ideas to the table and a strong vision that enhanced my previous work. It was a great learning experience.
NYFA: What did what you learn at NYFA that helped you make this film?
Martinez: My experiences at NYFA were integral to making “The Broken Legacy.” It is incredible looking back at how much of what I learned in school helped me through this project. NYFA’s hands-on approach really prepared me to be in command of the set, because I have already done it before many times in smaller projects.
On top of that, I was very lucky to have two great directing teachers, Nick Sivakumaran and Adam Nimoy, who showed me how to visually tell a story without losing sight of the spine of each character. Most of my crew was wonderful people that I met at NYFA, including one of my actresses and co-producer Cynthia Bravo. I would never have been able to complete my film without the NYFA community.
NYFA: Would you do anything differently if you could?
Martinez: I think that if I could go back in time, I would have approached the screenwriting process differently. Writing a film is by far the most complex part. I wrote the script in eight months and I still feel like I could have used more time.
Looking back, there are little moments where I realize that I should have added this or that to make it perfect. It is kind of like that feeling you have after walking away from a conversation and suddenly know exactly what to say. It’s very annoying, but I have learned from it. Now, I try to focus 110 percent on those details during the writing process.
NYFA: What festivals did you take the film to?
Martinez: “The Broken Legacy” has screened at the Pasadena International Film Festival, where it won Best Feature Film, and at the Gwinnett Center International Film Festival, where Michael Stahler won Best Male Actor for his portrayal of Steven. We also screened at the Manhattan Film Festival, Culver City Film Festival, Speechless Film Festival and Hoboken International Film Festival.
NYFA: What was it like watching your film with an audience for the first time?
Martinez: Watching the film for the first time in front of an audience was incredibly uncomfortable. I felt as if I was naked in front of them and they were staring into my soul. However, and this is weird, it’s also a wonderful experience because it allowed me to connect with them. Every time I hear a little reaction, like a gasp, I know that people are invested in the story that I want to tell. It’s amazing because ultimately I want to make films so people can watch them and get involved with the characters. Eventually, you get used to people staring at you naked.
NYFA: What is the message you hope viewers walk away with?
Martinez: The main questions the film asks is, would you be able to sacrifice your happiness in this world to achieve a great work of art? Is it worth happiness, worth immortality? I don’t want people to walk away with an answer to that dilemma, but I want them to walk away asking themselves, is it possible to have both? And what would they be willing to sacrifice to achieve immortal fame?
NYFA: What’s up next for you? Are you working on any new films?
Martinez: Right now, my main focus is the distribution of the film. “The Broken Legacy” is finally available on Amazon and Vimeo.
I am also developing a couple of new projects. I am in the middle of the post-production on a short film that I did in Colombia. It was produced by another NYFA alumni, Juan Sebastián Sarmiento Bazzani. I really wanted to have the experience of doing a short film back home. Thanks to the people I met at NYFA I was able to do so.
Finally, I have also been collaborating with a wonderful group of actors in New York City, where I currently live, to develop a series of short films that will soon be on the festival circuit.
The New York Film Academy would like to congratulate Martinez and all those involved in the making of “The Broken Legacy” on their success. To learn more about the film click here.