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The Miami Herald: Filmmaker's First Project Gets Raves, Nov. 13, 2005

 

Kendall, FL, Nov. 13, 2005
Filmmaker's first project gets raves
East Kendall resident and first-time filmmaker Eric Gaunaurd wrote and directed a short movie being shown at film festivals around the country.
by Jonnelle Marte
www.miami.com

 

Eric Gaunaurd is returning to a passion he put on hold 15 years ago: filmmaking.

 

Despite the demands of helping run a family business while raising two young sons with his wife, the East Kendall resident found the time to write and direct a short film called Mentor that is being shown at film festivals nationwide.

 

''It got to the point that I said I need to make the time to do this,'' said Gaunaurd, 33, who studied drama as a teenager.

 

The film, which debuted at the Alameda International Film Festival in San Francisco and was shown at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival in October, will be shown Nov. 23, at the Tower Theater, 1508 SW Eighth St., for the Miami Short Film Festival. It also will be shown at the Delray Beach Film Festival in March.

 

The film, about a business man who betrays his longtime boss and mentor, was named Best Short Screenplay at the Woods Hole Film Festival in New England.

 

''So far, with what we've started we've had a really good response,'' said Gaunaurd, who named his filmmaking company Paradiso Pictures.

 

Gaunaurd stopped pursuing a career in filmmaking when he graduated from high school so that he could help his father and brother start a family business that distributes cookware to retail stores. Today the company, Gaunaurd Group, sells to retailers such as Sears, Wal-Mart and Bed Bath & Beyond.

 

Gaunaurd recalled working 50 hours a week while taking night business classes at Florida International University but doesn't regret making the family business a priority.

 

What hurt, he said, was knowing that he had given up something he loved.

 

''If you go through life and you really don't do what you love and what you're passionate about, then what are you living for?'' he asked.

 

He starting easing himself back into the filmmaking business two years ago when he took classes at an acting studio called Creative Workshops.

 

Then in March, he took a six-week screenwriting workshop at the Florida Film Institute, where he wrote Mentor as part of a class assignment.

 

He said his teacher, Alyn Darnay, talked him into bringing the script to life.

 

''He probably doesn't realize until this day the impact that he had on me,'' Gaunaurd said.

 

He found the time to write in the evenings, after he was done with work and his 2- and 4-year-old sons were in bed. His decision to get back into the movie industry surprised some of his family members, but they supported him through the process.

 

''I've known all along that this is something that interested him,'' said his wife, Mayelei Gaunaurd. ``I'm very proud of him.''

 

Gaunaurd did the casting for his film in May. He posted information about his film on the Internet and got a response from about 100 actors.

 

''It was surreal when we did the casting and I had all these actors sending me their head shots and their résumés,'' Gaunaurd said. ``I thought I was going to get three responses.''

 

He hired actor Reed Kalisher, who has experience doing short films, commercials and theater, on the spot and then worked with him to hire the rest of the cast.

 

They held auditions in the showroom of Gaunaurd's office and decided on Rey Dabalsa for the part of the blackmailing business man, and Jiannina Castro for the secretary.

 

Kalisher said Gaunaurd's script is what hooked him to being a part of the film.

 

''I thought it was one of the best short films I had ever read,'' Kalisher said.

 

The cast and crew faced their biggest challenges when they started filming in July. While shooting scenes at the Government Center, they twice were stopped by Homeland Security officials, who thought they looked suspicious after the recent subway bombings in London.

 

They also had no electricity for their first day of filming at the Colonnade Hotel in Coral Gables because of a blackout.

 

''We had to run extension cords three stories down to the first floor of the building,'' said Miguel Ferrer, 21, a friend of Gaunaurd's who produced the film and was the director of photography. ``When you're planning for a film you have to keep in mind that everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.''

 

The crew didn't let the setbacks get in their way and finished filming in August.

 

''We were able to pull it off,'' Ferrer said.

 

Since then, Gaunaurd has been keeping himself busy. He just finished writing his second screenplay and hopes to start casting for that film in December.

 

This time, he plans to stay in the film business for a very long time.

 

''This is what I'm going to do for the rest of my life,'' he said. "I'm more determined than you have any idea."

The Florida Film Institute (FFI) was established to provide students and adults with a nurturing and hands-on environment in the field of Media Arts. Since its inception in 1992, FFI has mentored over 6,320 middle and high school students from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. FFI strives to provide a nurturing environment to teach the art, business and science of filmmaking, so that the participants may have the confidence and experience necessary to consider it as a viable career path.
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