In late 2016, I heard through a friend, that David Blue Garcia an Emmy awarded cinematographer based in Austin, was about to finish editing his directorial debut feature film. I contacted David expressing my interest in his movie and he asked to see some of my work.
After a few emails back and forth, David invited me and a few other local film people to a screening to watch the cut and have a round table about the film and share our thoughts. We had a brief conversation about his vision of how the sound should be, what he expected, and my input of how could I improve the film and the storytelling in general through Sound Design. I remember being really impressed by the beautiful cinematography and how well executed and accomplished the action sequences were.
What is more interesting to me about this movie is how he was able to pull all this together with a small crew and budget. The key element in this equation is he decided to go to his hometown in South Texas to produce and shot there. He knows a lot of people in The Valley and because of that it was easy to ask help from friends, people he went to school with, secure some awesome looking film locations, crash at his parents for 6 weeks, and even use the school he attended back in the day as a location.
I know by experience that communication is key to successfully go through a big project like this and since day one we had a really clear channel of communication about what he expected, project timeline, and the actual progress of every step.
The basic approach of the sound design was to create really different ambiances between the scenes shot in Mexico and in Texas, adding some sort of character and personality to the locations and even to unanimated objects and places. Also, the wind and windmills play a huge part in the sound design, he wanted these elements to basically play a character in the film. I used a combination of synthesizers generated filtered noise with tree branches and vegetation Foley recorded and automated through all the movie.
For the gunshots in the action scenes, I layered several things, including the whizzing sounds of the bullets passing by, and the empty bullet casing clicking sound. I used a lot of different elements, from shooting washers with a slingshot, to a fidget spinner, and real empty bullet shells of different calibers I picked up from a shooting range nearby. Automating the panning of all these elements in the 5.1 surround mix created an extremely realistic sound experience.
After a little more than a year of Tejano official release, I got to say I’m really proud of being a part of the talented group of people that put this awesome movie together. The film did great on the film festival circuit playing in more than 30 festivals all over the US, Canada, Brasil, Mexico, and the UK, and is the recipient of multiple awards including Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor, and an Audience Award. Tejano was honored in the Texas State Capitol on March 2019 as the subject of a Texas House Resolution authored by Rep. Celia Israel.
Don’t miss the opportunity to watch this action-packed thriller, portraying current issues in the Mexico/Texas border, like gang violence, racism, drug cartels, immigration, and healthcare. Now available on HBO, iTunes Store, and Amazon Prime.