Chilean-born director Francisco Campos-Lopez moved to the DMV area to direct music videos in 2011. This September, Campos-Lopez debuted his first feature film, I Did Her Wrong, at the Västerås Film Festival in Sweden and won big. The film tells the story of an estranged father trying to reconnect with his daughter by casting her as Cordelia in his own production of King Lear. I caught up with Campos-Lopez on the success of I Did Her Wrong in Sweden.
Campos-Lopez referred to the DC area as a “goldmine” of untapped talent, and he showed that to be the case with respect to music videos. But surprisingly, in 2017, he showed that that talent extends no less to independent dramas. Using local crews and actors, Campos-Lopez shot I Did Her Wrong in Luray, Virginia, as well as in the suburbs of DC.
For the film’s debut at the Västerås Film Festival, it was nominated in four categories including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Actress, which DMV native Catalina Lavalle in fact won for her performance in the film. On why he debuted the film at the Västerås Film Festival, Campos-Lopez concedes that the festival process is a crap shoot.
“You can’t expect anything from film festivals,” he says. “Sometimes they will hate it, sometimes they will ignore it. And you can be ignored in all the film festivals in the world, and then someone will come pick it up. It’s just that weird.”
So, Campos-Lopez and the producers of the film just decided to take a chance on the Västerås Film Festival, which was founded in 2015 and has since become a showcase for quality independent films. Few involved expected these results from the film initially. Campos-Lopez describes signing lead actor Alexander Barnett, an NYC-born actor who has established himself on the DC scene the past several years, as a case of half-begrudging concession.
“He said to me, ‘I’m not in love with the idea, but what the hell?’”
Producer David Schiff describes his early expectations as “very low,” and like Barnett, signed on more for the sake of Campos-Lopez, rather than the film per se. But as the project grew, and especially as Campos-Lopez worked through the footage post-production (with help from Schiff himself), Schiff began to see the film as one that had a “legitimate shot of being a film watched and enjoyed by many.”
On where the film goes from here, Schiff concedes that they “don’t really know.” For the next couple of months, it’s a process of sending the film out to various festivals and hopefully hearing back. The local premiere will be at the Alexandria Film Festival in November. After that, the film will hopefully move to a streaming service such as Amazon or Hulu, says Campos-Lopez. I can’t help but ask him about the lengthy process.
“It’s true,” he says, “a movie takes a chunk of your life.”
For more information on the film, visit the website here.