Although my office is in the UK,I have been working, recording and making videos in Cuba for the last thirty years. I love the country and the people – I have Cuban blood in my veins! Mambo Man is based on real life events experienced by a close friend. This story reveals the passion and ingenuity of ordinary Cubans necessary to survive under the strictures of the US embargo and the unyielding constraints of the Revolution.
To help me realise the project I co-directed the film with Edesio Alejandro, a close friend, composer and film producer. The real JC will be on hand as an advisor.
The film will have a classic, cinematic visual style that captures the beauty of the landscape and provides a refreshing, un-romanticised, alternative image of Cuba. Instead of the crumbling, Colonial grandeur of Havana we are introduced to a lush, tropical landscape of rural Cuba.
Music is essential to the film – there will be live performances from some of Cuba’s best musicians. Some of the scenes in the film unfold against the backdrop of big, live musical performances with huge crowds, including performances by the legendary Candido Fabre, Maria Ochoa and Alma Latina in the Casa De Trova, Santiago de Cuba, David Alvarez in the cafe ” Kuchipapa” in Bayamo and Arturo Jorge playing in the party at “Finca Santa Elena” organized by JC for the English tourists. The soundtrack will feature some of the best Cuban traditional music to create a celebratory mood and atmosphere. All music rights and clearance will be secured through Tumi Music and is supervised by me.
The script provides the structure and basic dialogue but I am keen to develop the dialogue through improvisation with the mixture of professional and non-professional actors prior to shooting to develop authenticity and naturalism.
Out of some two hundred actors and actresses only four protagonist artists are from Havana. The rest are chosen locally in Manzanillo, Bayamo and Santiago. All the extras at Finca Santa Elena are the same workers who live and work on the farm.
One of the main features of this film was trying to use as many local actors as we could. For this reason apart from the four protagonists, three of whom came from Havana and one from LA, we looked hard locally to find local talent. We used the existing farm workers who worked at the Finca Santa Elena as well as several hundred local actors and actresses.
It is a totally independent production with a limited budget and financed through borrowing.