INTERVIEW WITH ALEX MALLIS

The New Che of Havana

a film by Alex Mallis

In the realm of nonfiction, do you prefer working solo, or does it just depend on the project?

I don’t really think there is a way to make good work totally solo. Filmmaking is inherently a collaborative form. From something as simple as helping to carry a bag to something as essential as brainstorming and critique, working with people I trust makes my work better.

How did you meet the subject of this short doc?

I met Che through a friend. I was introduced to him in his shop in Havana and was immediately taken by his predicament. I asked him if he would be cool with us coming back with a camera and he agree

How different is the film in its final form from earlier iterations?

Mostly just in pacing and arrangement. We went back and forth a few times with the “reveal” of his tattoo shop and it being illegal. We tried a version where that information was given a lot sooner and it worked fine..but in the end we landed on the way you see it now. And in general, editing is a process of revision and refinement. We start with a more bare bones structure, and/or a radio edit so that we can see how the whole piece will flow. From there we start to move sections around, cut things add (or add more) until we are happy with the way it feels.

Alex lives in Brooklyn, NY. His films have screened across the US and internationally. Alex wrote, directed, and acted in the short narrative, LA NOCHE BUENA, which was shot in Havana, Cuba, with the support of the Princess Grace Foundation. He is currently producing a tv doc series for VICE.

As director of photography, he shot Keith Miller’s WELCOME TO PINE HILL with Lily Henderson and BegoƱa Colomar (Grand Jury, Slamdance 2012) and FIVE STAR with Ed David (Best Editing, Tribeca 2014). He holds an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College (CUNY) and an active member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective and the Meerkat Media Collective.