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  • Q&A with ‘El Freeman’ Filmmakers and New York Film Academy (NYFA) Alumni Elhas Rahim and Antonio Chavez

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    On Friday, February 15, New York Film Academy (NYFA) hosted a screening of El Freeman, followed by a Q&A with NYFA alumni Elhas Rahim and Antonio Chavez, co-directors of the film. The event was moderated by their former instructor, James Rowe. Rahim, who also acted in the film, is from Kazakhstan and Chavez is from Mexico—their film, El Freeman, explores the immigrant experience in America.

    El Freeman

    Rowe opened up the Q&A by asking Rahim and Chavez how they personally related to the story in the film. Rahim discussed how there was a time when, in America, he lived in his car and had to navigate being homeless and an immigrant in Los Angeles. This really helped him relate to the film’s themes of desperation and feeling like an outsider. 

    Another experience that really shaped Rahim’s life—and ultimately the script for El Freemanwas when Rahim tried to save a young woman in Kazakhstan who was attempting to commit suicide by jumping into a river. Rahim almost drowned attempting to save her: “I felt like I [could] die,” he said. That experience pushed Rahim to do whatever necessary to get the script for El Freeman finished, as well as inspired the backstory for the romantic relationship in the film.

    El Freeman

    Rowe noted that in El Freeman Los Angeles is represented in a grittier, less glamorous fashion than it is in most Hollywood films. Chavez shared that the production team watched a number of films with an unrefined aesthetic to get inspiration: “You start caring more about the characters because you want to pull a bit away [from the fantasy of an idealistic Los Angeles].

    One of the members of the audience asked Rahim about why he pushed for a lot of rehearsal before shooting the film. “I knew this film would be more on the acting side of [things],” he replied. Rahim wanted to work through the emotional moments of the script before arriving on set. The other benefit of this was that the actors were more likely to get good takes faster, which helped with an extremely limited shooting schedule.

    The New York Film Academy would like to thank NYFA alumni Elhas Rahim and Antonio Chavez for sharing their experiences as immigrants in the American entertainment industry and their advice for our students and independent filmmakers.

     

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    March 6, 2019 • Film School, Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 507

  • MFA Filmmaking Grad Produces Feature ‘El Freeman’

    Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailSince graduating from his MFA in Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles in 2012, Antonio Chavez Trejo has established himself as the Director of Production and Creative Services for a 360 production and social media marketing company based in LA, called Supersonix Media Inc. Having come from a film school background and being well versed in the many facets of filmmaking, Antonio served his hand as producer, co-director and camera-op on his feature film entitled, El Freeman. Antonio and his team are now handling distribution, marketing, and crowd funding.

    el freeman

    The film is about El, an immigrant from Kazakhstan who is trying to raise money to hire a lawyer to get his papers in order. He ends up meeting the wrong set of people, and works at a moving company with a few low life criminals who steal from the owners of the homes. During one of his jobs, El meets a man who will become his mentor and help him correct his path. In addition to his eventual brotherhood with his fellow criminals, there’s also a love story that pushes the interior motives of El and his connection with his values and his family.

    “Working on El Freeman taught me something very important,” said Trejo. “Im up for the challenge, and I have acquired the leadership I need to run any film I want to make.”

    el freemanTrejo had been assembling the team for about two years, which includes former classmates of his, director Yelhas Rakhimbekov, director of photography Erik Kjonaas, and 1st AD Carolina Sandoval. This tight group of filmmakers worked arduous schedules to complete production of the film.

    “We had days when we had to shoot 6, 7, 8 or 9 pages a day,” recalls Trejo. “With their eyes and ears and my directing keeping the vision of Yelhas, we shot something that looks as beautiful as the script is.”

    Trejo and his team finished principal photography, and are currently in post-production.

    Aside from this project, Trejo has been showcasing a few of his short films and has a feature script which he hopes will see a green light soon.

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    May 26, 2015 • Filmmaking, Student & Alumni Spotlights • Views: 4499