“It Wasn’t Clear That They Would Even Qualify for the State Competition” | Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn, Going Varsity in Mariachi
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?
The varsity mariachi team that we had chosen to focus on had historically been one of the best in the state. We’d filmed with the team two years earlier and had immense respect for the coach and his program. And although he’d warned us that the team was heading into a “rebuilding year,” we weren’t prepared for the impact that the pandemic had on his varsity squad. Six months into production, the varsity band was struggling so much that it wasn’t clear that they would even qualify for the state competition. What we had sketched out as a film about the glory of winning a state championship was quickly becoming a movie about defeat. This forced us out of the genre framework of a competition film and we instead concentrated on telling a story about four high school musicians coming of age in this very culturally unique time and place. These teenagers would be graduating into the world of adulthood whether they won a state championship or not. The film really found its voice once we started thinking of the competition as structural scaffolding that supported the true narrative building blocks of the story, rather than the other way around.
See all responses to our annual Sundance Question here.