Eric Iglesias discusses the successes and challenges of making The Chosen Path
The Chosen Path is the emotional journey of Diana as she discovers she is pregnant, and decides that the best course of action is to terminate the pregnancy. The film has been critically acclaimed and won multiple awards, including the Award of Achievement in Feature Filmmaking in the 2021 SoCal Film Awards.
Filmmaker Eric Iglesias took some time to speak with INFLUX Magazine about The Chosen Path, filmmaking, and a few other odds and ends.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: The Chosen Path is quite an achievement. How long was the process from start to finish — that is from the idea through a finished cut of the film?
Eric Iglesias: From idea to finish the process took four to five years. Research on the subject matter took quite some time, and the post production took a long time to finish. It’s easy to make a rough cut, but the distance between rough cut and finished and polished film is lengthy.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: You took on many roles with this film, including director, writer, and producer. Which aspect was the most challenging?
Iglesias: Wearing the “producer” hat was probably the most difficult. We had a solid first assistant director, two producers, one unit producer manager, and several production assistants throughout the shoot, and still, keeping tally of all the business side of things was a logistic challenge that was much bigger than the craft of filmmaking.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: As both the writer and director, how does the movie differ from your original vision?
Iglesias: The movie is very different from my original vision. In some ways, it is better than what I originally envisioned. When you go to the edit room, the screenplay goes out of the window and you work based on the story that you have in the hard drive, and not on the paper.
In the end we threw away a lot of the secondary plot and focused on the main character and her emotional journey, and I think it is a direction that really paid off.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: The movie deals with some pretty difficult topics. What were the difficulties in making a movie about the subject matter?
Iglesias: Research was difficult. You will understand that it is difficult to have women come forward and talk about something that may still hurt. Fortunately, we were able to go through forums like reddit and find women that were (through the power of anonymity) willing to open up and give some insights about their experiences.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: You have previously said that you would like to foster dialogue with this project – not a debate, not an attack, but a conversation. Can you expand on that?
Iglesias: When we embarked on the project, I always had this idea that we didn’t want to expose facts or statistics or to dive too deep into what the laws say, but rather, I wanted the story to be driven on an emotional level. I wanted to have this journey on which we walk in the shoes of the protagonist, so that rather than exposing facts like a documentary, and reducing people to numbers, we could see the story through the eyes of the main character.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: This movie feels very personal. Was there a particular inspiration for the movie that you can tell us about?
Iglesias: I would be lying if I said that the movie is based on personal experience. It is entirely the result of a fair amount of research, and of trying to be as respectful as possible to the characters, and to the audience.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: What type of research did you do before and/or during the script writing process?
Iglesias: Research meant conducting interviews, in person, and online through forums. Watching other films and trying to understand how other directors approached the subject matter. Listening to podcasts, to archival radio shows, reading books, old news articles on the subject. And I would be lying to you if I told you I’m an expert.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: What can you tell us about the casting process? Did you hold auditions? Use a casting director? Write for specific actors?
Iglesias: Yes, we held auditions. All our actors came from casting calls. We did not write the original screenplay with any specific actors in mind. The caveat here is that after we casted Camila, we found she was a very good singer, and decided to incorporate her in the process of making the soundtrack. In the end, she sang two of the songs for the movie, which gave the movie a special flavor that I didn’t originally anticipate.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: The original music from composter Sergei Stern stands out as well. Did he write the music specifically for the movie? What can you tell us about the development of the music for the film?
Iglesias: Yes. The music was written specifically for the movie. It was one of the goals that we established early on in the process. We understood that the film would operate on an emotional level, and that the music would allow us to expose emotion without unnecessary dialogue, which I wanted to avoid as much as possible.
It was Kseniya who suggested we work with Sergei, as she had already worked with him on prior projects.
I had a few very specific requirements I wanted for the direction of the soundtrack, and Sergei was very quick to understand what I had in mind, roll with it, and add his own secret ingredients to make the soundtrack better than what I originally anticipated.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: What was the production timeline? How many days did you shoot to complete the movie?
Iglesias: The production timeline was the fastest part of the process. Filming took around four weeks. We shot for around 25 days in the LA area. Apart of that we had a couple of days in Las Vegas, and an additional day for pick-ups in Utah.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: How large was the crew and how many people were typically on set?
Iglesias: The crew on set was around 25 people. Cast, crew, plus the post production team was around a hundred people altogether.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: The cinematography is compelling. What was the process between director (you) and cinematographer (Violetta D’Agata)?
Iglesias: Violetta was in the project from the beginning. We had worked on a few projects in the past and had a few ideas on how to tackle this one.
The process with Violetta was basically to go for tried and true techniques we had done prior projects. We went with RED cameras because we knew it would “just work” (not only during principal photography but also during post production). I suggested I wanted to use Zeiss vintage glass because it was fast and would allow us to shoot at night, while giving us that look that you can’t quite get when using modern, more clinical lenses.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: What are your continued hopes and aspirations for The Chosen Path?
Iglesias: Pandemic allowing, we hope to continue to show the film on the festival circuit for a few more months. We are also working on a limited theatrical release in the Los Angeles area as well as releasing the film into the digital platforms.
INFLUX MAGAZINE: Is there anything additional you would like to add for our readers about the movie?
Iglesias: Just a quick thank you to the staff at INFLUX for the space to talk about the film, and a quick reminder that more information about the film is available at www.thechosenpathfilm.com
INFLUX MAGAZINE: What’s next for Eric Iglesias?
Iglesias: Next up, we’re working on a project that is fairly more ambitious. We’re adapting a novel from the Jim Crow era that tackles segregation from a different perspective.