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SXSW '05 Interview: 'Cowboy Del Amor' Director Michele Ohayon

by Scott Weinberg

The 'Cowboy Del Amor' Pitch: "Cowboy Del Amor" follows former cowboy, now professional Cupid, Ivan Thompson, as he finds Mexican wives for disillusioned American men searching for true love. Taking hopeful $3000 clients on a 600-mile bus ride into the heart of Mexico, this colorful Texan attempts to lasso hungry hearts into successful marriage matches, claiming love has no borders.

"A documentary about a cowboy turned matchmaker."

Will this be your first time at SXSW? Any other film festival experience?
First time at SXSW. I've traveled around the world with my previous films, including It Was a Wonderful Life, about the hidden homeless women (narrated by Jodie Foster, music composed by Melissa Etheridge), and the Oscar-nominated ('97) documentary Colors Straight Up, about inner-city youth turning their lives around in South Central L.A.

When you were 14 years old, if someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would your answer have been?
Theater director.

How did you get started in filmmaking?
After serving in the Israeli Army, I enrolled in Tel Aviv University to study film and TV. I was interested in directing since I was seven.

How have things changed for you since your film was accepted into the festival?
SXSW is a perfect festival for a Texan/Mexican story that Cowboy Del Amor tells. And it's exciting to be premiering a new film!

When you were shooting the film, did you have SXSW (or film festivals in general) in mind?
Sure, and SXSW was definitely one of them.

How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
My matchmaking cowboy was going on a trip to Mexico to match an American guy who had agreed to be filmed. I decided to join them with a camera, even before I had any funding. My gut instinct told me to go for it and invest in order to capture this matchmaking adventure. It turned out to be a perfect match unfolding in front of my camera. These moments are the "magic" documentary moments that tell you that you're in the right track - and you should make this film no matter what. So I did.

What’s the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
Follow your instinct and put your money where your instinct is.

When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
Not really, since it's a documentary.

If a studio said ‘we love this, we love you, you can remake anything in our back catalogue for $40m’ – what film, if any, would you want to remake?
West Side Story, although I think it's perfect as it is.

Two parter – name an actor you'd KILL to work with, and then name an actor in your own film that you really think is destined for great things.
My film has no actors, since it's a doco. I will be working with an actor I'm dying to work with - Morgan Freeman. He is a partner on my feature Straight Up. I wouldn't mind pairing him with Robert De Niro...

The festival circuit: what could be improved? What's been your favorite part of the ride?
It's always fun to meet other filmmakers and I hope we will have a chance to do so at SXSW.

Have you ‘made it’ yet? If not, at what point will you be able to say ‘yes’?
It's relative. As filmmakers we are ambitious, so in a way we never "make" it. We want the possibility to make any movie we want and thus will be restless until it happens.

A film is made by many people, including the director (of course), but you'll often see movies that open with a credit that says “a film by…” – Did you use that credit in your film? If so, defend yourself! If not, what do you think of those who do?
I didn't use "a film by" and I put my credit at the end with everyone else because I think it's a team effort, driven by the director's vision and personality. If one feels comfortable with "a film by," it's OK with me. I believe in tolerance and as long as it doesn't hurt anyone - who cares?


Cowboy Del Amor, starring Ivan Thompson, will premiere at the 2005 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for more information, and be sure to check out the official Cowboy Del Amor website!.

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originally posted: 03/11/05 05:16:11
last updated: 09/24/05 07:01:59
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