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“A Rare Series of Earthquakes Shook the Island” | Glorimar Marrero Sánchez, La Pecera

Isel Rodríguez in La PeceraIsel Rodríguez in La Pecera

Every production faces unexpected obstructions that require creative solutions and conceptual rethinking. What was an unforeseen obstacle, crisis, or simply unpredictable event you had to respond to, and how did this event impact or cause you to rethink your film?

Unpredictable events and obstacles were constant factors during the development of La Pecera (The Fishbowl). In 2017, Puerto Rico was embattled by a category 4 hurricane that caused catastrophic damage across the island and impacted the priorities of many people involved in our production. Then in 2020, a rare series of earthquakes shook the island. These two events led to delays in the development process and the situation was aggravated by what would come next.  Like the rest of the world, we were faced with the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which further delayed our production plans and then put an unexpected pressure on our timeline. We were going to lose part of the financing of the film if we did not shoot before the end 2021. This was very challenging because we needed to develop and implement a health protocol for COVID-19. Initially, I intended to work in a hybrid form that allowed for the inclusion of more documentary elements, but we needed to follow a protocol that required a more controlled set. This changed my initial approach and turned it into a much more intimate and measured one. In some ways, I felt unprepared for this change, but I think it is a common feeling for a first time feature film director in any situation. This scenario created opportunities to become very close with the cast and with our locations due to the need to create a “pod/bubble”. Our limitations allowed us to go deeper in many ways and discover new catalysts. We also had limitations with locations that turned out to be unique opportunities. A great example of that is at the end of the film, the location did not have a bath inside of the house and a tree outside provided the ideal set, revealing deeper development of the main character. Every obstacle through rewriting on set, that flexibility was a tool used daily during filming. This unpredictability was essential to the film’s growth.

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