Interveiw With Dr.Pete Britos

Me: So first questions the easy one just finished up principal filming on “Mango Dreams” so what film about that and what is its background.

Britos: Yeah so we just finish principal photography on feature film “Mango Dreams” that we’ve been shooting for a number of years, actually we started in like 1995 or 96. We shot a short call “Mango Dreams” with my babysitter who was fourteen at the time her name is Tiare Thomas and my uncle John Victorino. So we shot that in the shot on Super eight and high eight (film) and, then I went back to the mainland, I was in Hawaii that time, went back to the mainland and was working for Quincy Jones and Davids Salzman producing a TV show. So put that aside and then in 2012 I was teaching a course called multimedia cinematic or actually it was creative narrative production and I decided to show good faith with my students and do a short film as well. So I got a crew together got some equipment and we shot a short called “Mango Dreams”. My 14 year old babysitter, was now a 29 year old and so she looks a lot like to be the same family as my son Kamahele so we casted Tiare Thomas and Kamahele as a mother son and the story was about a single mom who lost her husband in like a boating accident who is starting to date again and an 8 year old doesn’t like it all. We shot that in the spring of 2012, it was a nice good project and then started to edit it for HIFF (Hawaii International Film Festival) but then I have kind of a loss in my family had a brother that passed away and he have 5 kids so decided to turn the short term “Mango Dreams” into a feature film so instead of wrapping and exhibiting at Hawaii International Film Festival a short film like we planned we started shooting the feature, so we kept all of our same cast. We kept pretty much our main crew and then started bringing in more characters and developed it out. I wrote it that summer and then we’re shooting that summer and yeah a couple of weeks ago end of August we shot out at Kalama Valley a psychologist scene with the young kid and the Mom and wrapped up our production.

Me: So is Mango Dream your first kind of large-scale independent like movie production that you kinda worked on. I know you worked a lot within the industry itself is like the first time?

Britos: I’ve been writing for the last 25 years or so if I went to USC film school to the study screenwriting in the early 90’s. I did that and then I did some other things in the film school but I’ve written a lot I’ve won awards for a screenwriter from Walt Disney, Hollywood Pictures, and USC film school. I’ve been doing that kind of writing but you know I can never get anything funded or produced in part because the characters I write, or at least for these films, are Hawaiian or part Hawaiian, and historically there’s never been any traction for any movie like that. So in 2012 I finally decided I’d oh okay well I just do it. It was absolutely underbelly of filmmaking, no budget I just my wife and I pretty much funding it mostly food drinks but you know we shot all over the island with all kinds of crews, casts, and equipment. So pretty prodigious, but you know absolutely no budget just a really good screenplay and some actors that were fully committed and some crew fully committed. It took us a few years.

Me: So you said that you had been writing for a while, what kind of sparked your interest not just in writing but in Cinematic Arts itself?

Britios: The first TV job that I ever had was on “Magnum P.I” as an extra late teens or early twenties and I really like that creative envorment, I’ve been painting on my life so I was in the visual arts you know I wanted to tell stories. So being on “Magnum P.I” was pretty eye opening because of all these jobs. These really cool jobs that I realized that I would never get one of those jobs. (Interrupted lost train of thought) I saw these cool jobs even the people that were right around my age they were bring them over here and set them up in hotel and transportation nice paint job and I’m sitting here going damn I want one of these jobs. So eventually I decided to get into the TV and movie industry like I said I went to USC film school and did screenwriting cuz I figured ahh I’m gonna be able to create my own projects and you know that is kind of what’s happened I have been able to the write my own stuff and produce it.

Me: You mentioned you went to the USC Film School and it was for both your graduate and your doctor’s degree right

Britos: yeah masters and doctorate

Me: and also when I did my research I saw that you did some teaching over there what was that like I mean cuz USC is by most defined the top film school in the United States and probably one of the top places to go in the world so what was the environment like how do you think that shaped you as a writer and a director and whatnot.

Britos: well it’s a very competitive environment but it’s also invigorating, everybody ambitious everybody wants to work. Even people in industry (the film industry) want to work with people going to USC film school. So you have professionals working on student projects all the time. I really enjoyed that kind of environment where everybody was anxious to work interested in working interested in experimenting. So I’ll give you an example I had this scholarship at USC in the Graduate screenwriting program and the person that had that scholarship before me was a guy by the name of Andrew Marlowe who wrote “Air Force One” and a bunch of other stuff and the person I had it after me was won by name is Shonda Rhimes and she’s the writer/producer of “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal” and I think she has a new show comin out. These are storytellers these are writers and you’re surrounded by people like that that are doing work and so even the people that end up teaching there are they tend to be pretty talented. I learned from some really good instructors. I taught a bunch of course there. I taught film history, television history, Oceanic culture and media, global media, and stuff like that. I try to bring that to the environment that I work and you know I’m pretty enthusiastic and passionate about stuff. I know that amazing things can happen as long as you do the work and if you don’t do work well then things just don’t happen. Well it kind of takes that kind of commitment and I’ve been kind of lucky cuz I seen around me. You know you help develop some pathways but, time after time, year after year, you never know what’s going to happen because it’s brand new all the time but folks kind of commit themselves to producing, writing, and magic happens. That’s an amazing thing to kind of look back and see the fruits of your labor.

Me: I’m gonna jump back a bit,you talked about how a lot you your writing involves Hawaiians and that is not really big In the film world. The film “Aloha” recently was under a lot of criticism for not having a real big Hawaiian cast. What kind stuff would you like to see be Hawaii kind of be portrayed with in the film/ cinematic world and how can you help contribute to that.

Britos: I think that cinema is an incredibly powerful media television is and incredibly powerful media, and there powerful in part because they allow us to think tank the future. They allow us to deal with contemporary issues to visualize how you live how we how we lived in the pass and to get better at the stuff that we do. So if you don’t have or if you take out of that equation the people that live in an area it has adverse effect, it’s not benign. So project like that are great in that they locals work, they local training, but again you know it’s problematic if all you see is colonial romance and you don’t see any representation on screen of the communities in the individual that live in that community. So I’m interested in those stories you know if I grew up watching “Five-O” and “Magnum P.I” and you know being pretty cognizant that the local and especially the Hawaiian community are totally under represented or represented in a way that doesn’t ring culturally true, and so interested in that truth I think that there’s a lot of material to be plumbed, to be investigated to you know be worked through and that work hasn’t been done. You know the mainland it’s difficult to see those politics at work sometimes because you know we do on the mainland folks live in segregated communities and there is a Beverly Hills 90210 there is you know south central so we see black and white. Hawaii though is incredibly diverse and disperse you have all kinds of people living right next to each other so the only see for example in “Aloha” you only see really Caucasians being active in the community having issues that need to be resolved you know but that’s part of the reason they got criticized, that’s part of the reason the most shows get criticized. The rationale for producers that well you know we’re dealing with the mass audience and Hawaiian are such a small part or that locals are such a small part of that. There’s some validity but I think people are realizing that you know I’m tired kind of rational for being under or not represented at all. I think I can bring some of those stories that it does take the level of investment and technical skill to be able to do that the hard part is that it’s tough to make a living doing that you know very few people can sustain that kind of effort I’ve been kind of lucky to be able to teach and do those kinds of things because then I can as well pursue my creative interests and not have sell out just out make a living. Now I’m like right at that point where I think that I’m kind of the publishing in multiple media for example I’m serializing a novel online that’s very local Hawaiian story “Spiral Jungle”. I have a graphic novel “Black Sands Chronicles” and “Mango Dreams” but you know those have taken a long time to develop so it’s not easy to do and make a living.

Me: So to wrap it all up what’s after editing after you get the finish finished product what’s next for “Mango Dreams”? Is the plan to hit the film festival market?

Britos: Yeah so it’s destined for the film festival circuit. It’s a small independent feature film there are not a lot of markets for those kind of projects, but we think that “Mango Dreams” will be unique and interesting enough to the track something in an international audience they will see a part of Hawaii that they never seen before that’s for sure. Pretty much all of our main actors are local, most of them are Hawaiian because it is around a family it is kind of family oriented but you know there’s also other parts of the community that are represented the both in front of the camera and behind the camera. We have a large percentage of our crew are women, the director of photography, a couple of producers and executive producers there all women that’s important. It has a huge impact on what we see on screen and you know eventually it’ll probably find this way on television. You know the “Mango Dreams” it’s just one chapter in this novel that I’ve written. so the goal the idea would be that it does get a little bit of traction on the film festival circuit but even above and beyond that is that we get to make another feature film this time some kind of funding.

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