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‘Moonlight’ co-producer discusses sense of place, community story in filmmaking

Miami has become a topic of conversation within the entertainment industry thanks to the Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” which was not only set in Miami but also filmed there. The film’s unique focus on setting and its distinctive narrative help to shine a light on the diverse, one-of-a-kind city that is Miami.

Andrew Hevia, a Miami native and the co-producer of “Moonlight,” offered some valuable takeaways regarding the making of the film during a presentation to students on April. The students at the University of Miami’s School of Communication were thrilled to receive such constructive advice from someone who has been so successful in the industry.

Hevia began his presentation by highlighting the hallmarks of “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins’ filmmaking and how the two men came together to create this film. Hevia emphasized the importance of texture, sound, music and, most importantly, sense of place. By deconstructing these key features, he could convey their importance the crowd’s potential future filmmakers. By adhering to their mission statement to “tell Miami stories,” Hevia and the rest of the “Moonlight” crew were able to create a community’s story.

Hevia also discussed some of the conflicts that can arise during the creation of this kind of a film, such as narrow financial resources and the fear of limited appeal as well as the film’s experimental nature. He and the “Moonlight” team “leaned into these obstacles” and turned them into opportunities.

“The reasons people don’t want to fund your movie are the reasons you should make it,” Hevia said. “It’s something that’s never been seen before.”

As much as “Moonlight” is a film about a community, it’s interesting to note that it was born from a community of friends.

“We’re actual friends that hang out on purpose who came together and made a film,” Hevia said.

This tight bond is reflected in the deep and emotive nature of the film. It is hard to imagine that something of this magnitude could’ve been created without those deep-rooted bonds.

After a rousing presentation, many students felt motivated.

“As someone not going the conventional route, it’s inspiring hearing from someone who didn’t do the conventional,” said Johnathan Kornerg, a junior marketing major and motion pictures minor.

“As an A24, hearing him speak was an unbelievable experience,” said senior media management major and motion pictures minor Francesca Schirripa. “With two weeks left, it made my future endeavors all the more worth pursuing.”

Professors were not left unaffected by the positive energy that flowed throughout the room.

“It was fabulous to have someone who learned so much and has been successful so quickly come and meet with our exceptional students,” said professor John Soliday, from the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media.

“My main take-away point is to be faithful to the place you came from because that is where your treasure lies,” said lecturer Ruth Reitan from the Deprtment of Cinema and Interactive Media.

Hevia’s goal to encourage filmmakers to focus on the stories of their communities was well-received by UM students, and the discussion was an all-around success.

April 28, 2017


Laura Quesada

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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.