A middle-aged Hispanic woman has built a successful life and marriage, with her caring husband and step daughter both being a foundation of stability and unconditional love. Yet she's never come to terms with a previous life of addictions, reckless behavior and abandoning a young child. We had the pleasure of interviewing Margaret Sanchez.
How did you start making films and what was the first film project you worked on?
I began to spend time with friends on set, and watching the different processes involved in making a film. I am an actor here in Dallas Texas, and I have two agents. I have been fortunate to work on set as an actor, and observe all elements involved in the process. My first film project was independent film shot here in Dallas. I remember getting different directions from the director. He allowed me to view the different takes, which helped me see from his perspective what he was trying to achieve. I learned how much filming is truly a collaborative endeavor.
What was the inspiration behind the making of Pieces of life? I drew my inspiration from my oldest brother who suffered addictions for many years and then finally when he was about 50, sought professional help, and for a time it seemed he was on a path to recovery. However, it was a huge struggle for him, and ultimately could not triumph over the substance abuse. Eventually he passed away due health conditions exacerbated by his addictions. He was also a father to a son that went on to be adopted by another family. Later in life my brother attempted to reach to his son but the connection never occurred. So, my story tells a different perspective. A grown son that chooses to meet his biological mother, but she is reluctant.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an independent filmmaker in the film industry? In this era of social media, the industry is saturated with new filmmakers and so I think you have to find a way to demonstrate how different and unique you are. In my case, I am a first generation Mexican American female over 55, retired from the Federal Aviation Administration as air traffic controller in Dallas Texas. I worked in the aerospace industry for decades. And now my second chapter is about to take off.
How difficult is it to fund indie films? Filmmaking is costly. I was fortunate to have a great income and was able to afford the expenses in making this film. Having said that, for a feature film I would be looking at investors. I can’t imagine the sacrifices many young filmmakers make to fund their own projects.
Please name three of your most favorite directors. Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Chloe Zhao, and Kathryn Bigelow.
How have they been influential in your work?
They represent a minority that finally has arrived in the Hollywood film industry with enormous success. They have broken barriers, Inarritu, and Cuaron both raised in Mexico. I feel a connection to them because my mother was born in Mexico. The film Roma reminded me so much of the few times we would travel to Mexico City, and visit relatives. Roma brought so much back to me, everything, the setting, the era, and the socio economic differences, and the compassion within the Mexican culture.
And then Bigelow and Zhao, their work is gorgeous and inspiring. And even more important they represent women braking through barriers in Hollywood filmmaking.
How did your film go into production and how did you finalize the cast and the crew? It happened within a few of months after I completed the script. I had the actors cast before the script was complete. I interviewed two cinematographers, and shortly after made that selection. We shot the film over several weekends, between mid -July 2021, and August and used two locations. Post production was complete in late August and immediately began submitting to festivals, focusing on “Short Film” events. So far our film is doing well, our acceptance rate is over 55 percent. I am happy about that.
What is your plan for further distribution of the film in order to reach a wider audience? At this point my focus is strictly on achieving success at some of the international festivals.
What do you recommend to other filmmakers regarding the making and the distribution of independent feature films? Firstly, make peace with rejection it is inevitable, secondly know that this is not an easy process by any means. Don’t let that overwhelm you. Keep your passion, follow your instinct even when that means abandoning “logic”. Your best work will come from that. Surround yourself with those who share your dream and the enthusiasm that comes with the love of filmmaking. Someone once told me to “stay on course” that has worked for me. Without a doubt you will have rejection and disappointment, but keep moving forward.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on? I have thought about doing Pieces of Life in Spanish as my next project. But also thinking of a mafia type movie, or a dark comedy. Both completely different genres compared to Pieces of Life.
Why do you make films?
Filming and acting it’s a visceral experience. I love creating something that elicits an emotional response from the audience. I was about 5 years old when I knew I wanted to do something in film. My parents would take me and my brothers and sister to the movies. Sometimes Spanish speaking films, and I just remember the expressions and emotions the actors conveyed to me. I wasn’t capable of really understanding any of the dialogue at that age, but it didn’t matter. So much can be said with few words or none. Films have a global impact and can touch many people on different levels.