Category: GEMA

Title:GEMA speaks with the alumni filmmakers behind the theatrically released feature film “Lost Soulz”

Lost Soulz is a feature film that debuted in theatres nationwide on May 3rd after screening to strong critical acclaim at a number of film festivals including Tribeca. Directed and written by Georgetown alumna Katherine Propper (C’15) and produced by brothers and fellow Hoyas Andres Figueredo Thomson (C’13) and Juan Carlos Figueredo Thomson (SFS’15), the film tells the story of an aspiring rapper who leaves everything behind and joins a group of touring musicians and embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery, music, and friendship in the heart of Texas.

GEMA spoke with Katherine and Andres about the journey in making Lost Soulz, their time at Georgetown, their early careers in film and their advice for budding Hoya filmmakers.

Katherine, talk about the genesis of LOST SOULZ – what inspired the story idea and how did the film get its start?

KP: Lost Soulz began as a movie concept I imagined for a friend of mine I met off of Craigslist in 2016, named Sauve Sidle. I had only lived in Austin for about a month to do the MFA program at UT Austin, and was in search of an actor for a school project. Sauve was the only person who responded to my ad and rode up to my student apartment on a skateboard with rainbow-colored hair. Immediately, I thought he was compelling and charismatic. More importantly, we both related to having pipe dreams — Sauve wanted to be a famous rapper and actor, and I wanted to be a working movie director. Beyond that, Sauve was living at a friend’s house while attending high school at the time. I deeply connected to his story, having also lived with friends in high school. Two years later in 2018, my 16-year old younger brother moved in with me while I was still in film school. That situation and my own life story made me reflect deeply on what home means and what a support system really looks like when you feel on your own in the world while having big dreams. Lost Soulz is a meditation on some of those questions.

Andres, how did you get involved with the film?

AFT: Katherine and I met while taking John Glavin’s scriptwriting class at Georgetown, and quickly became friends as we both had a long-term desire to make films. She helped me produce my capstone project (a short film called Muse) for the Film and Media Studies minor. We stayed in touch throughout the years and I would always be amazed by Katherine’s work and short films she kept on making after our years at Gtown. I knew one day we’d work together again. 

In 2021 she sent me a script she wrote called Bandkids, but it took me a while to get around to reading it. When and how I came to read the script is a movie of its own, I’ll just give you the synopsis. I was driving through an area in the Central United States known as “Tornado Alley” when a tornado diverted my path, I was quite scared in the middle of the storm and asked God for a sign of where I should go, and it popped into my head “Go to Austin”. While driving south in the middle of the night I remembered Katherine was living in Austin, and that I’d still not read her script. I got up the next morning and read it in one sitting, and it hit me like lightning, I knew this was my next project. It was a great story about pursuing one’s dreams and finding family through music, I knew a thing or two about this from previous projects. So I called her up, said I was in town, and we met for coffee. When I told her I wanted to help make Bandkids, she got teary eyed. She told me that she had been at church that morning and prayed God would give her a clear sign of what movie she should work on next. And there we were, on Pentecost Sunday, guided by forces of wind and prayer, making plans to make our next movie together. The power of that surreal mystical experience often fueled our faith when the going got tough and the skies darkened, through the many ups and downs we faced in the making of our first narrative feature together.

Were the three of you involved in the arts at Georgetown? How did your careers develop post-Georgetown?

KP: In college, I majored in Art History and knew I wanted to make films after graduation. Although I had made short films and minored in Film & Media Studies, it wasn’t until after Georgetown that I really learned the craft of filmmaking. I attribute that to making films in the MFA film program at UT Austin and by working for years as a creative in Austin. 

AFT: I was part of the first class of the Film and Media Studies program at Georgetown which was a wonderful experience and through which I met many friends I continue to work with today such as Brooks Birdsall, Katherine Propper and Andrew Morrison. By far my most influential class was Dr. Glavin’s scriptwriting class, though many in the program feared his discipline, high expectations and rigid structure, I found it extremely motivating and eye opening to the fundamentals of storytelling.  

Shortly after graduating Georgetown in 2013 I went on to produce and direct my first feature documentary “La Causa” a story of redemption within the most dangerous prisons in Venezuela. And created my production company Capitolio and music record label Habeatat. The combination of these two companies has allowed me to explore the world of music and film and served as the organizational structure for projects such as Lost Soulz and many more to come.

Raising funds for an independent film is not easy – how did you make that happen and what was that journey like?

AFT: Raising the funds was indeed very tough and nerve racking, but we believed in the story and team we were putting together and had faith that this was the project with which we would make our mark on independent filmmaking. We were able to reduce a great deal of costs on this project by hiring very talented artist friends and people who really believed in the final product and were willing to work at low budget levels. We promised a fun adventure making a movie and music, and more importantly promised we’d finish what we started. It took us a few months of preproduction work but eventually we found the perfect group of dreamers and newcomers hungry to prove that we could make a great film for 1/3 of the price line producers in Los Angeles and NYC said it would cost us to make. Juan Carlos and Andres also invested through a collateralized loan and maxed out their credit cards, as is often the story with independent filmmakers. We also won grants that helped alleviate the costs such as the Panavision New Filmmaker grant and an Austin Film Society grant.

The chemistry among the cast members is palpable — what were the key factors that led to that chemistry? How did you find the cast?

KP: I think some of the chemistry was just magical and lucky — it’s not something you know will happen until it does. It helped that all the actors are musicians in real life and could connect both with each other and their on-screen characters in that way. I knew Sauve (Sol) first from Craigslist, and we collaborated on a short film together in 2018. Sauve recommended his friend Aaron Melloul (Seven). I found Krystall Poppin (Nina) through a recommendation from a local filmmaker in El Paso. Tauran Ambroise (Big Loko) and Siyanda Stillwell (Wesley) were discoveries from perusing Instagram. Micro TDH (Froggy) came as a recommendation from Andres & JC (producers). Alex Brackney (Mao) and Malachi Mabson (Kai) were part of the songwriting team that created the film’s original music, gathered together by our music producer Zig (Executive Music Producer). 

Music is a central “character” in the film, so to speak.  The scenes of the characters creating beats and lyrics on the fly are electric and appear real and authentic — was that the case? How did you develop the music for the film?

KP: The actors in Lost Soulz are musicians in real life and brought their talents to the screen in more ways than one. The freestyles that occur in the film are a testament to their skills — many of the “freestyle” scenes were improvised in the moment. In some cases, the actors had the beats/songs beforehand and had time to think about their verses or the lyrics before filming. The energy they manifested came from an authentic place as experienced performers.

Much of the music in the film was originally produced by a group of musicians at a bandcamp that occurred a few months before filming. The incredibly talented artists present at the camp collaborated together to cook up these virtuosic songs that really epitomize the emotions at the heart of the story. Being in the room to witness the songwriting was a real blessing and a bit like a transcendent experience — which great art-making often is! Along with the cast members, the musicians/producers/writers/composers behind the music in the film are talented creatives who are hungry to get opportunities to express themselves and work as artists. I hope they get more opportunities to do so and am excited that their work will be released in a Lost Soulz soundtrack album that’s coming soon to all platforms by Sony Music’s Milan Records.

What are your hopes and dreams for this film? 

KP: I hope the film connects with audiences. 

AFT: I hope Lost Soulz serves as inspiration for artists everywhere, especially the younger generations, to pursue their dreams, to build teams that are passionate about creating together, and to always have faith in the visions you are given. I also hope this film can help platform many of the incredibly talented artists who worked on this project as songwriters, actors and creatives. Hopefully this is the beginning of many more collaborations in both movies and music from the creative team behind Lost Soulz.

What advice do you have for any budding filmmakers reading this interview?

AFT: I have two pieces of advice: number one is stay true to your word and your people! Your word is your bond. That is the most important lesson when you work with anyone, to be a trustworthy team member and leader, more than understanding spreadsheets, line item budgets, camera angles, equipment lists, contractual language, music split sheets, etc., understand how to build teams that will have trust in each other, this is how they will all give their best ideas and energy to the collective creation of the project.

Number two is Just Go out there and Do it! If you spend too much time perfecting the draft, raising funds, casting, finding the perfect match for each and every category, you will spend much energy and get little momentum. It’s never going to be perfect or absolutely ready, along the way you will find the pieces you need, the universe has a way of helping you on the journey, once you step out onto the road. 

KP: My main advice to Georgetown students would be to spend time in college and in life, thinking about what the meaning of life is and what it really means to live a good life. I often think about this quote by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn from a commencement speech he gave in the 70s, “truth eludes us if we do not concentrate our attention totally on its pursuit…” So basically, I’d tell any budding filmmaker to seek truth and find out what it is you want to say. Don’t add inessential work to an already oversaturated world of content. Do you absolutely have to be a filmmaker or is it just something that sounds fun? If what you want most is to have a comfortable life, then there are much easier paths than filmmaking to do so. 


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