MADDOGGIN’ Mural & Title Sequence

Posted on 07. Aug, 2011 by in Trailers

Maddoggin’ is a coming of age story about two boys living on the streets of East L.A.  Pedro is a charismatic, natural born salesman.  His best friend, Ernesto, is a gifted street artist.  When the local gang leader, A.K., asks them to join his “family”, the boys must choose between a life of violence inside the gang, or a life of poverty outside of it.  The choices they make over a single day will alter their lives forever.

We wanted a title sequence to establish the world of the film, the relationship between the two boys, and the artistic gifts of Ernesto.  Therefore, we decided to use Ernesto’s sketches to capture the boys’ life in the streets along with their dreams for the future.  To bring this idea to fruition, we were incredibly lucky to to have the prominent Mexican-American artist Fabian Debora, a native of Boyle Heights, whose work has been shown in major art galleries both nationally and internationally, collaborating with Smith+Lee Design, the successful duo behind the title sequences to “Thank You For Smoking”, “Juno”, and “Cinema Verite”, among many others.   The idea was for Fabian to make the sketches believable as the work of a talented teen sketching in his notebook and for Smith+Lee to assemble them into a story within the story.

The final sketch in the sequence would also be the basis of a huge mural that Ernesto paints in the second act of the film.  In order for Fabian to create the sketch and the mural, he needed to know what our actors looked like and the location at which we were shooting.

Photo the sketch was based onThree weeks before principal photography was to begin, we produced a still photo shoot on location with Pedro (David Castaneda) and the neighborhood kids (Producer Eddie Ruiz’s cousins).  Out of a few hundred images from the shoot, the photo above was chosen to be the basis of the sketch/mural by combining it with the background below.

IMG_0114Below is the sketch Fabian created combining the two pictures.

Soccer sketch

Pedro & Ernesto Tunnel WideAbove is the the 200 square foot mural Fabian painted based on the sketch.  Due to production time constraints, he painted it in six hours.

Picture 5The photograph on the left captures Fabian creating the actual test sketches of the mural and opening credits in his studio.  Once the sketches were finalized, he re-drew them in the spiral notebook.

Smith+Lee made the decision to shoot the sketchbook on a motion control rig to give it an analogue feel.  It makes the camera moves feel much more organic than if they had scanned the sketches into a computer and then added the moves digitally in post with software like Adobe After Effects.  We were very lucky that Smith+Lee were already renting an elaborate motion control rig for a feature film title sequence they were producing, so we were able to piggy-back on their rental.  The motion control rig functioned as a remote control “lazy susan” that traveled on a long rail.  We placed the sketchbook on the rotating disc of the “lazy susan” and shot.  Every once in a while Gareth of Smith+Lee would call for a page flip.

Fabian’s brother, Dario Debora, who works as a music producer in East L.A., supervised the music in our film and introduced us to a wide array of brilliant East L.A. hip-hop artists and their work.  Boyle Heights native Dario “King Darius” Lomeli’s beautiful hip-hop song ,”Parallel Lines”, underscores the imagery of the title sequence.

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