Filmmaker Nicholas Ozeki lives in Echo Park. His first feature film Mamitas opens Friday, April 27 in a limited rollout at five theaters in Los Angeles and Orange counties including the Laemmle Pasadena.
According to IMDB Mamitas is the story of a "misguided youth" who forms "an unlikely bond with an unpopular girl." It is based on Ozeki's 2007 short of the same name.
"The movie is not solely for or about Latinos,” Ozeki says in a press release.
"Coming from a multiracial background (half white and half Japanese), I thought it would be positive to explore some universal themes."
Mamitas features several locations near Ozeki's Echo Park home.
Here are his reflections on two of those locations, in his own words, with some images he captured from the shooting.
HOLLYWOOD SUNSET CLINIC
The [Hollywood] Sunset Clinic is one of the area's most recognizable landmarks because of its bright and beautiful murals that wrap along its walls. Shooting at this location was a homecoming for me as I had also shot a scene from my graduate school thesis film at this very spot a few years back. With the hustle and bustle of the Latino dominated east side of Sunset Boulevard in the backdrop, actors E.J. Bonilla and Veronica Diaz were able to draw inspiration from the authenticity of their surroundings.
Like any densely populated city, Los Angeles’ Silver Lake is filled to the brim with pedestrians. Shooting on location proved to be difficult as enthusiastic onlookers often found their way into our shots. With a little diplomacy and careful timing we were able to get the shots we needed. The result was a beautiful scene shot in the heart of one of the area's busiest intersections.
LOS ANGELES COUNTY NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
The Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, located at 900 Exposition Blvd right next to the USC campus in downtown Los Angles, was one of the most breath taking locations we shot for Mamitas. The production team and I were thrilled to have full access to the entire ground floor of the museum! The one catch was a very tight shooting schedule, so we had to pick our shots carefully. We opted to shoot in the main atrium with a really cool dinosaur exhibit as our backdrop as well as the African Mammal Hall and the North American Mammal Hall.
In this scene Jordan, the main character in Mamitas, is searching for his friend Felipa during her class trip with the magnet program from their high school. When I was writing the script I chose the Natural History Museum as homage to one of my favorite coming of age books, Catcher in the Rye. The main character of J.D. Salinger’s classic spends a lot of time in the Natural history Museum because of the connection it has to his school fieldtrips from his childhood.
During the shoot at the museum, I distinctly recall from both the actors and the film crew, an air of nostalgia that flooded over everyone. The echo of children’s laughter off the marble floors, looming dinosaur skeletons, giant mammoths perched above excited onlookers, all off these things we associate with the bittersweet impermanence of childhood. Everyone on the production enjoyed the privilege of shooting at one of Los Angeles’ most exciting locations. I hope the scene does the Museum justice!
Want to review Mamitas for Echo Park-Silver Lake Patch? Contact editor Anthea.Raymond@patch.com.