What inspired you to make "The Crumbles"?
"The Crumbles" was inspired by the real-life experience of playing in a garage band—and the ego battles, minor successes, unfulfilled dreams, and life lessons that went along with it. It seems like I spent much of my young adult life deeply involved in bands and other creative collaborations that never went very far. In retrospect, I know the experience of creating something with friends is what matters most, not necessarily what comes of it. This is what I wanted to explore and poke fun at in the film.
Tell us about the cast.
One of my major goals with this film was to get good performances out of an unknown cast. It took us about 6 months to find our primary players, and it was time well spent. We held several open casting calls and saw countless young, talented actors, which is how we found Teresa Michelle Lee (Elisa), Jeff Torres (Dante), and Ebony Perry (Francine). We also trolled the underground music clubs of LA, thinking that a real musician might fit one of the roles. Eventually, we found Katie Hipol (Darla) in Northern California, who is a self-taught musician and theater actress. Seth Millwood (Serge) and Adrian Torres (Giovanni) are actor friends who I already knew would be perfect for their parts.
I wanted the cast to be racially diverse, to reflect the multicultural population of Los Angeles. Yet, our casting for each role was color blind -- we saw all sorts of people for every role. It just turned out that these particular actors were right for their parts, and they all had the right chemistry together.
LA's Echo Park is the backdrop for the story. Tell us about your location choices?
I lived for many years in Echo Park, and I feel that it's one of the most interesting and ecclectic neighborhoods in LA. The population is currently generally made up of working class Latinos, hipsters, artists, and odd-ball characters of all stripes. The unique mixture of people makes the neighborhood funky and flavorful, which is why our characters fit right in.
Echo Park has also become a hub of musical activity, where several clubs have popped up. It's probably the cultural vibe that attracts musicians, DJs and music lovers to the area. Plus, it's one of the few neighborhoods in LA that's somewhat pedestrian friendly. You can walk from the bookstore to the club to the taco truck with no problem.
And finally, tell us about your inspiration(s) for the music used in the film?
The music for THE CRUMBLES was written entirely by Quetzal Flores, leader of the East Los Angeles Chicano roots-rock band QUETZAL. I've been friends with Quetzal for many years, and I knew from the beginning that I wanted him to be the film's musical architect. I didn't imagine him writing all of the songs for our on-screen band, but that's what happened. Quetzal is known for playing a highly unique blend of Afro-Latin Alternative/Chicano Roots-Rock (yes, it's hard to describe accurately), but I feel like he perfectly captured the indie/alt rock musical spirit that I wanted to go for. He also tied the music and lyrics beautifully to the narrative of the film.
Before he started writing the music, I gave him a lot of music to listen to, including mainly female-led groups like Cibo Matto and Buffalo Daughter. He also drew inspiration from the music he listened to during his teenage years, including bands like The Smiths, REM, Los Lobos and The Pretenders. The result is a set of amazing, catchy rock tunes that bring a sense of urgency and authenticity to the band and our film.
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