Friday, February 16, 2018

The Visit - Romina Schwedler Interview

Photo Content from Romina Schwedler

Romina was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At the early age of 15, she moved to NYC by herself to study at the School of American Ballet and The Juilliard School

She followed with intensive acting training at the William Esper Studio, during which she began to be featured in films, TV series, music videos and commercials. 

Inspired by her mother -a successful Argentinean actress & director, and her father -an award-winning photographer, Romina developed a passion for visual storytelling at a very young age. 

In 2014 she directed How a Man Gets Ready (a spec commercial/ micro-short film she also wrote, produced, starred in and edited). Through this piece, she was selected as one of the top emerging directors of the year at SHOOT Magazine’s 12th Annual New Directors Showcase held at NYC’s Directors Guild of America Theater

She soon followed by writing, directing & producing Bad Connections (another spec commercial/ micro-short). 

Both works went on to screen at numerous festivals worldwide and received 34 awards and 7 nominations combined. Some of them are: 
  • Best Micro-Short Film Award Houston Comedy Film Festival (2014). 
  • Best Short Film by a Woman Nomination Burbank International Film Festival (2014). 
  • Gold Award for Best Concept International Independent Film Awards (2014). 
  • Best Commercial Award California International Shorts Festival (2014 & 2015). 
  • Women Filmmakers Award of Excellence Accolade Global Film Competition (2015). 
  • Best Micro-Short by a Woman Lionshead Film Festival (2015 & 2016). 
  • Best Micro-Short Film Award Austin Revolution Film Festival (2015 & 2016). 
  • Female Filmmaker of the Year Nomination Austin Revolution Film Festival (2016)

Throughout 2015 Romina wrote, directed and produced her first short film, The Visit: A 12 min psychological drama starring Academy Award Nominee June Squibb and Sean Maher. 

The Visit premiered at the Burbank International Film Festival where it was awarded Best Short Film by a Woman and is currently on the festival circuit, having screened at 29 festivals so far, including Oscar Qualifying Cinequest and St. Louis International Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Vail Film Festival, CineGlobe Film Festival (CERN, Switzerland), FICIE (Spain), Catalina Film Festival, Mammoth Film Festival and Big Apple Film Festival, having received 6 awards, 5 nominations and 5 special mentions to date. 

Besides accompanying The Visit throughout its festival circuit, Romina is currently in the process of writing the screenplay for her first feature film, as well as working on various film projects.


Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that directing was not just a hobby, but that it would be your life and your living?
I can’t remember a specific moment when that happened actually. I feel like that’s a decision I make every day.

I’m an actress as well so when I debuted as a director (with a 1 min spec ad), my goal was to use directing as another vehicle to get my acting work out there, have something fresh and different to include in my acting reel. But then I got the bug! I just couldn’t wait to do it again. And this continues to happen with every new project I work on so I suspect -and hope- that it will continue to happen for the rest of my life!

In your film; THE VISIT, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
The Visit is a psychological drama (12.5 min) about the unexpected ways our minds can sometimes handle extreme feelings and emotions like guilt, grief and loss.

It takes place at the visiting area of a hospital after Ben (played by Sean Maher) receives a sudden request to see his mother (played by Academy Award Nominee June Squibb).

We follow mother and son as the afternoon unfolds and witness their initial gentle encounter escalate into torment, although not exactly in the way we might have expected.

What was your unforgettable moment/s while filming THE VISIT?
So many come to mind! One was seeing June on set for the first time and spotting my script on her table, full of notes. After the unique way in which she became attached to the project, and after all the hard work that it had been to get to that set, it hit me at that moment that she was really doing this and she was giving it her undivided attention. That moment will stick with me forever.

I also remember the first take of Sean’s most emotional scene when Ben goes back to the empty house. For the first time throughout the course of the production, I became aware that my vision was coming to life. Such an indescribable feeling, I just couldn’t help but tear up.

And can’t move on without mentioning how incredibly awesome it was seeing my mom painting chairs on set! She came all the way from Argentina to help out and having her there was so special to me I will never forget it.

What were your inspirations for the character development?
I did a lot of research with the mental health office of NY and that helped me immerse myself into the world and life of these characters. But the seed for it all came from a conversation with my father about my now late great aunt, at the time 102 years old.

My father shared with me things that she would say or do which revealed an unusual -and to me captivating- way of dealing with the loss of everyone from her generation due to her advanced age.

My main characters -as well as the story itself- were born from an idea I had during that conversation.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m right now in pre-production for a short film I was hired to direct called Boom. it's about two mature women waiting to audition for a one line commercial and it deals with the idea that after a certain age, women can become “invisible”.
 I was so happy when writer/actress Barbara Miluski told me that she wanted me to direct this piece. I love the concept and I’m also super excited to be working with an all-female cast AND crew! We’ll be shooting Mar 4th. First time I won’t be watching the Oscars live!

After that’s completed I go back to working on my feature screenplay which I hope to be developing throughout the next several months.

When was the last time you wrote a letter to someone on paper?
A couple of days ago I wrote a card to my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. Does that count? The kind of letter you send in the mail, I can’t remember!

What keeps you awake at night?
Deadlines, ideas, chocolate. Definitely a night person!

At a movie theater which arm rest is yours?
Sometimes the left, sometimes the right, but never both!

What are you most passionate about today?
Learning as much as I can about film, its history and its everything so I can continue to expand myself as a director and as an artist.

The Last Book you’ve read?
(Reading!) The Visual Story by Bruce Block.


1) After daydreaming about getting June Squibb to play Mrs. Perkins, I saw her at the Burbank International Film Festival and gave her a flash drive with my script.

2) When she emailed me back, I thought it was my boyfriend playing a bad joke on me and did not believe it until she and I spoke on the phone 2 weeks later.

3) Sean Maher grew his hair and beard for almost two months to play the role of Ben.

4) A week before production I fell, got a brain concussion and was told I was going to have trouble concentrating and fully functioning for the next 2 to 3 months.

5) The film was shot on location in Yonkers and Staten Island, NY (at the same hospital where Gotham is filmed.) and Jersey City, NJ.

6) I was going to play the role of Anna but then decided to concentrate fully on directing this time. (I instead do a 15 sec cameo as a nursing aide.)

7) This decision was inspired by my boyfriend Alan J. Carmona who was also the cinematographer on the film!

8) The Visit was originally 21 minutes, then it was 14.5 and only recently did it dawn on me that one full scene needed to be cut, giving the film its final TRT of 12.5 min.

9) The snow/winter scenes were shot during the dead of summer and transformed in post by our amazing VFX artist Shaun Ryan Savard.

10) The close-up of Ben’s hand in the final scene is actually our co-producer Ruben Rodas’s hand, shot over a month later and with a different camera. Thanks to the magic of color correction, and Ruben’s talent of course! No one can tell!

11) It is my first film (other than two 1 min spec commercials).

Devastated by the loss of his wife and son, Ben responds to his mother's sudden request for a visit. But when she announces the alleged arrival of his departed family, what he strives to sustain as a gentle encounter soon spirals into torment, finally revealing a most unsettling truth.

The Visit was born in August of 2014 out of a telephone conversation with my father about my late great aunt, at the time 102 years old. 

With great sadness, my father shared with me the curious ways in which she expressed herself and the stories she elaborated in her mind in order to cope with the loss of pretty much all friends and family members from her generation. 

I was fascinated by the mechanisms the human mind has access to in order to handle loss and grief. My great aunt could not have been more enthusiastic about this alleged party she needed to prepare for where she was going to see her sister and parents later that day. 

As the conversation with my father continued, an intriguing thought came to my mind, right after which I started writing The Visit and worked non-stop until this very day in order to bring the story to life. 

I deeply hope that you have a memorable experience watching the film.

"The Visit" is a compelling entry of the short film variety, a deep rooted and thought provoking psychological drama filmed in a style that would make any fan of Hitchcock smile with approval.
With a running time of just over 12 minutes in length, director Romina Schwedler wastes no time grabbing the attention of her audience, building a melancholy tone with twisting visuals that transition effortlessly into a story about a family torn by instability and a sordid past. 

Most impressive were the two lead characters and how well they presented different ranges of emotion in such a short amount of time, building the plot and structure of the storyline. In "The Visit" we follow a family man in a seemingly normal afternoon arrangement with his estranged mother at a care home. During this meeting the audience is treated with scenes detailing the family drama, channeling the frailty of relationships between very human characters. Something to consider here is the sincerity of the film, from the clever conception of the scenes, their transitions and the desaturated tone of the visuals. Without giving away the core details, it is apparent from the very beginning that this is a story where not everything is as it seems. 

We get a sense of unease after key plot points are revealed towards the end that the destination of our characters might not follow the path set by the initial tone of our leads. Another mention should be made to the simple relevancy of the score used to coincide with the players adding to the emotional payoff. 
One can't help but wonder how the talents of miss Romina Schwedler could be used to great effect in a full length feature film, and with her short "The Visit" we get a taste of what she has to offer to the cinematic world.


June Squibb (Mrs. Perkins) was born and raised in Vandalia, Illinois. She's best known for the role of Kate Brant in Nebraska (2013) which earned her Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations among 38 other nominations and 5 wins. Her filmography includes About Schmidt, Scent of a Woman, I'll See You in My Dreams, Alice, Meet Joe Black, In & Out, The Perfect Family, Far from Heaven and The Age of Innocence.

She has also performed in numerous TV series like Getting On, Code Black, The Millers, Mike & Molly, Devious Maids, Girls and Glee to name a few. 

Mrs. Squibb got her big break in New York by landing the role of Dulcie in The Boyfriend Off-Broadway in 1958. In 1959, she performed in an Off-Broadway revival of Lend an Ear starring Elizabeth Allen. 

She made her Broadway debut in the original production of Gypsy starring Ethel Merman, taking over the role of stripper Electra in 1960. She next appeared in The Happy Time, which opened in 1968 and was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical. In-between these periods June also did modeling work for romance novels and TV commercials. 

She can currently be seen in films like Love The Coopers, 7 Days in Hell, Other People, Table 19 and TV series like The Big Bang Theory, Shameless and Modern Family.

Dominick Coniglio (Matty)
At the young age of 8, Dominick had his acting debut in 2015 playing the role of Matty in the short film The Visit, opposite Academy Award Nominee June Squibb and Sean Maher. 

From there he went on to play the role of Young Chris Garper in the TV Series Limitless as well as having several appearances in TV series and commercials nationwide. 

Dominick lives with his family in Long Island, NY where he currently attends intermediate school and continues his acting studies.

Sean Maher (Ben) is well known to television and film audiences for his role as Dr. Simon Tam in Joss Whedon's feature Serenity. The film was based on the critically acclaimed series Firefly. 

Maher was born and raised in New York where he attended the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He moved to Los Angeles after landing the coveted title role in the FOX drama Ryan Caufield: Year One. 

Upon cancellation of that series, Maher secured a holding deal with FOX and collaborated with the network on the well loved series Party of Five as well as Darren Star's The $treet. Additional TV credits include The Mentalist, Human Target, and Warehouse 13. 

With the birth of his daughter in 2007 Maher took a few years off from acting to be a stay at home dad. 

In 2011 while playing closeted gay man Sean Beasely in 1960s Chicago on NBC's provocative The Playboy Club, Maher used the role as a platform to come out publicly as a gay man himself. Entertainment Weekly graciously covered the story and Maher regards that decision as one of the highlights of his career. 

Sean appeared in the Season 2 finale of Looking for HBO, directed by Andrew Haigh. Additionally, he was seen recurring as Mark Scheffer (aka Shrapnel) on the hit series Arrow for The CW. 

Maher won praise for his portrayal of Don John in Joss Whedon's feature film adaptation of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and starred in the indie sci-fi feature Beyond The Edge as well as the feature People You May Know. 

A yoga enthusiast and LGBT advocate, he currently lives in Michigan with his partner and their two children.

Sadie Katz (Anna) is a Los Angeles based actress best known for her starring role in 20th Century Fox’s fan favorite horror franchise Wrong Turn 6 where she played the twisted and sexy Sally Killicker. 

She showed off her acting range when she played the sweet and sensitive leading lady in Chavez: Cage of Glory along Danny Trejo, Steven Bauer and Hector Echavarria. 

Katz also starred in the award winning thriller House of Bad among many other horror and dramatic films.

ALAIN J. CARMONA Alain is an independent, NYC based filmmaker and photographer. 

His film work has been screened at multiple film festivals worldwide. 

His photography and fashion video work has been featured in publications such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar,, W Magazine and WAG Magazine. 

Carmona’s cinematography experience includes narrative films, commercials and music videos. 

During the last two years, he has been working steadily directing and shooting commercial videos as well as feature films. 

He currently lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where he runs his own photo studio.



 DAN ZLOTNIK Dan was born in Genova, Italy. He spent most of his childhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina where he begun his musical studies as a saxophonist and clarinetist. 

At the age of 23, he moved to Mexico City where he quickly gained a presence in the jazz, pop and funk music circuit, eventually sharing the stage with international artists such as Armando Manzanero, Lupita D’Alessio and Gloria Gaynor. 

Dan has participated in nearly 200 music albums in Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Japan, USA and Europe either as guest saxophone player, producer or arranger. Six of those albums went on to win Latin American Grammy Awards while 3 others won American Grammy Awards. 

In wanting to spend more time with his family, during the last few years Dan began to focus more on his work as a composer. Since then he wrote the original score for several HBO and Netflix shows as well as many short and feature films. 

In May of 2016 he was nominated for an Ariel Award by the Mexican Film Academy for his Original Score in the feature film The Thin Yellow Line produced by Guillermo del Toro.



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1 comment:

  1. OMG! Thank you so much JeanBooknerd team for shining such a bright and beautiful light on The Visit. I really appreciate the great detail with which you put this writeup together as well as your kind words about the film. #thankyou #jeanbooknerd from #thevisitshortfilm