According to many news outlets, society is becoming more tribal. We rebuke those who have opinions and ideas that differ from ours, unless you’re director Rudy Lopez and editor Xiaoyao Shen aka Andy Shen. These two filmmakers rely upon their differences to complete outstanding work, as they did for the film One of These Days. This story of a young Latin musician stars Maynor Alvarado (Grey’s Anatomy, NCIS: Los Angeles, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) as Manny, a young man who is faced with deciding between his family and his own future as a result of immigration enforcement in America. Lopez had been so moved by Shen’s editing of the film The Living Room that he set up a meeting about a possible collaboration on One of These Days. The editor’s willingness to push back and suggest alternative endings from that of the director resulted in an offer for Andy to bring this approach to One of These Days. The result of artistic contention in the case of this film is a riveting story that moved audiences in a tremendous way. A timely tale true to the immigration tradition of the United States, One of These Days would not have reached its deep sincere tone without Andy Shen’s masterful talent.
There are many films about musicians but none so timely as the one depicted in One of These Days. The film follows Manny, a 21 year old Latino man living in the low-income Westlake district of Los Angeles with his uncle Oscar and Oscar’s teenage daughter, Marisol. Manny isn’t happy about where he is in life but music offers him respite. In his mind, being in a band is his ticket to a better life. He and his band are about to leave and spend months touring the US but on the day they are set to leave, Oscar disappears. Manny is frustrated and Marisol is nearly inconsolable. When they discover that Oscar has been arrested and is being deported by immigration officers, Manny is forced to decide if he will sacrifice his own future or the well being of Marisol. As a young boy from Mexico without parents to raise him, Oscar adopted Manny and gave him a home; will he now return the favor and find a solution that works for everyone?
Perspective is everything in life and in film. Where others see obstacles and difficulty, Andy Shen sees opportunity. When One of These Days lost its lead actor the night before principal photography, it almost seemed that the production was over before it started. While Maynor Alvarado’s performance throughout the film is exceptional, he was often forced to learn lines between takes. Proving that he’s always looking for a solution, Andy found a way to utilize this imperfection to the betterment of the film. The scenes in which Manny and Marisol are at the immigration office investigating Oscar’s dilemma show Manny mumbling and uneasy. Some of this footage is from early takes in which the actor was not yet familiar and comfortable with the lines. Though not the initial intent, this awkwardness strengthens the character’s uneasiness during the scene. Whether it’s resurrecting footage deemed unusable or manipulating the score, as in the mostly nonverbal emotional scene between Manny and Marisol near the end of the film, much of what makes Shen such an exceptional editor is his commitment to unearthing ways to maximize the intent of the story. He’s known for attending the set just to listen and request for atmospheric sounds and the like. He relates, “Editors often sit alone, away from the set…sometimes even thousands of miles away from location. Even so, they still need to work on clock to make sure that what he/she does helps the production. If I’m close enough to the shoot, I like to go there and experience what the other departments are doing. Filmmaking is team work.”