Manny Perez, right, as Jesus in Greencard Warriors.
Greencard Warriors is now playing in theaters, and it’s a must-see movie.
It’s currently playing in New York, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
Directed and written by Miriam Kruishoop, the film stars Manny Perez (Bella), Vivica A. Fox (Kill Bill Vol. 2) and Angel Amaral (Short Term 12) and delves into the plight of immigration.
Both Kruishoop and Perez spoke to Living Out Loud about the film, their roles, and much more.
Living Out Loud: What are some of the challenges you faced in balancing both roles as a writer and director?
Miriam Kruishoop: Writing and directing is something that’s great. The producing part makes it much harder because you are dealing the business side of things and you just want to focus on the creative. That was the most challenging. I write all my movies so that feels very natural to me. Being on set and working on set with an actor like Manny makes it so enjoyable to see your words come alive. It’s the greatest process I enjoy the most.
LOL: Manny, how was it being part of this film? Were you more emotional with this film given the concept and idea behind it?
Manny Perez: The thing about this project is that there’s a great story. The story takes you on a ride. As an actor I just loved being on set. Working with Miriam was a blessing for me. I felt very at ease and she nurtures you as an actor. I’ve worked with a lot of directors that don’t nurture you and that don’t give you that attention that you want as an actor. But in this case it was beautiful to live in the moment. I was touched by the story when I first read the script and when I was on set I would just live in the moment and letting the emptions take me to whatever…emotions were happening to me on set.
LOL: Miriam, how was the process of filming the movie? How was your experience working with Vivica A. Fox?
MK: We shot for free weeks…60 hour days. We had an amazing crew. This is something I want to emphasize: You can only do a low budget film when you have really good actors. We had an average of two takes…and you can only do that when you have super professional actors that know what they are doing. Manny and I had a very creative connection. He’s professional and supportive. Manny and Vivica, they just nail it…great collaboration from everyone.
LOL: Manny, do you consider this movie to specifically be for the Latino market? Or pretty much for everyone in the general market?
MP: I do feel that it’s a general market film. The beauty of this film is the theme that Latino’s are going through right now, which is the immigration. This film opens a conversation of what is happening. I feel pleased with my work. I like to make movies that have a point. It’s a political film [and] a family film. A film about family with a heart. It’s not just a Latino film everyone should see it. [Everyone] should what people are going through in the United States. And what kills me about the United States is that immigrants created this country.
MK: I just spend my entire morning at East LA College and the majority of students there are from Latino backgrounds and what I find is that it’s a community that is craving to have more content out there in the mainstream market. Almost 50% of Americans are from the Latino background…it’ really funny when executives are really careful with programming, political movies that are not just entertainment but also Latino content. It’s an incredible feeling when you see the desire from the community…when two people like [your work] and they’re happy, you really want it to go out there for everyone to think about because the message is that if we understand we all want the same thing it makes us feel more equal as people.
LOL: The movie was originally going to be balled Crosstown but changed to Greencard Warriors. Why the change?
MK: I wasn’t convinced that we used the word Crosstown, but when distributors got involved they felt that Greencard Warriors was a more specific title and very powerful. Some of my producers were really against it and felt that cross-town was generic but I’m happy that we decided on Greencard Warriors.
LOL: How helpful was it that the Kick Starter campaign became a reality?
MK: Every piece of financing is helpful. The majority of financing did not come from kick-starters; we just needed some money to finish it off. It’s hard to finance movies like this and it’s really great that things like kick starters exist.
LOL: Manny, how close did you identify with the character (Jesus) that you play in this film?
MP: Before I met Miriam I read the script. I connected emotionally with that script. The story about a father who losses his son. His guilt that goes on with that. I’m not a father yet, but hopefully I will be a father soon, but I have nieces and nephews. I know how it feels, I raised them all. I feel like I’ll now what it feels to send out your son to fight. [When filming] I was just living in the moment and living with the fact that my son never came back and it’s my fault and that guilt builds up until it explodes. I felt for this character and I had to live this situation and let this situation affect me and that’s how I prepared for this [role].
LOL: Why should people see this film?
MK: The message in this film because it addressed immigration and life in Los Angeles. It shows certain tensions that are in America and also the great performances of the actors. The authenticity of the film but also the way we shot the film; in the real area, on location. The support we had from everyone to the Pico district. We have to [put this film] word to mouth and feel that people want to go behind it. [It’s important] to create a bigger market for people and create a message in a political angle and something to think about.
MP: Latinos are always complaining that there are never any films made about them, by [Miriam] who is not Latina makes an amazing film and an amazing story about Latino family. I do hope that Latinos go and watch films like this, because if the go supports films like this there will be more films about us. Latinos always complain but we don’t unite. This film has its political touches but its theme is about family.