Lucia Plaza’s short film “Sal & Vinny” centers around two mobsters engaged in a relationship who are forced to consider their identities and their priorities when they’re punished by their ruthless boss. A former FIU Film Studies student, Plaza was awarded the CinemaSlam Works-In-Progress Grant by the Miami Film Festival to fund her work. We caught up with Lucia to find out how she landed this opportunity and how the FIU Film Studies program helped.
1. You won a grant from CinemaSlam for shooting the film. What did you have to submit to win this grant? Did you need highly specialized technical skills to submit this?
For the grant, I submitted the completed screenplay for Sal + Vinny, as well as a description of how I would use the Wolfson Archive footage. You don’t need to have highly specialized technical skills and I definitely still do not.
2. Based on the award amount, how did you manage and budget the money for shooting and production?
I was awarded $2,500. The majority of that went into paying the three main actors, securing a hotel room for one of the scenes, and renting the camera equipment we used. I had to pay some money out of pocket to cover the cost of the special effects because I can’t do them myself.
3. What’s next for you?
I have submitted Sal + Vinny to a few festivals so I am waiting to hear more on that but I want to work on other projects. I am still writing and I have a few ideas for short films that I am chewing on. I’d like to work on other people’s films as well.
4. How do you keep yourself engaged with visual storytelling? Do you have a community in Miami or do you keep connected via social media and online communities?
I watch a lot of films– Guillermo del Toro, Spike Lee, Federico Fellini, Wes Anderson, and Hayao Miyazaki. My biggest inspiration, in terms of filmmaking, is Stanley Kubrick. I try to pay close attention and watch things more than once; I really want to soak up everything I can when there is an opportunity to learn. On that note, yes, I keep connected to the Miami filmmaking community mostly through the FIU Film Initiative. The Instagram page helps me keep track of when I can meet up with other filmmakers or come to screenings of films.
5. What role did the FIU film studies program play in your development as a filmmaker?
The FIU Film Studies program played a huge role in my development as a filmmaker and the production of Sal + Vinny. The program connected me with really smart, talented, and hardworking people, without whom the film would not have been completed. It gave me a community that I could turn to with my questions and where people who know more than I do could teach me.
You can keep up with Lucia and her photography on Instagram: @plazaproductions
Farah Yamini, the Slut Positive Film Hoe, is a resident queer film enthusiast and disruptor extraordinaire.