Once upon a time, an award-winning, ivy-educated newspaper reporter wrote a novel. It was her first novel, called The Dirty Girls Social Club. In spite of the ironic name, it was not smut. Rather, the book was empowering, the first to ever tell the story of a group of middle-class college-educated American women who just happened to be Latinas, women like the author herself.
"I wrote the book I wanted to read but couldn't find," explains the author. It was also the first book to explore the racial and socioeconomic diversity of Latinos in America that the mainstream completely ignores, with a black Colombian character, a blonde Cuban Jewish character, etc. -- and that, says the author, was the key to its success. "The book showed us as we truly are - multifaceted, complex, fully human - not as the dominant culture fantasizes us to be," she says.
With 60 million Latinos in the United States (now the nation's largest minority group, and a population that outnumbers the total population in most nations on earth) and practically no pop culture film or TV projects to feature them in a non-stereotypical light, there was a huge hunger for this kind of material. The book went to auction among 5 big publishers, and landed on the NY Times bestseller list it's first day on shelves. It spent 21 weeks there and was one of the top selling books of the year, with more than half a million copies now in print. Reviewers called the book insightful and hilarious. Legendary writer Tom Wolfe called the author one of the most important social critics of our time because of this novel.
Rights to the book sold in 11 different countries, and the universal themes helped make it a hit in places as disparate as The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, China, Romania, Iceland and South Korea.
This overnight success landed the author on the cover of Time magazine as one of the nation's 25 Most Influential Hispanics. It got her on the Today Show, and reviewed in the NY Times. Latina magazine named her a Woman of the Year, Entertainment Weekly hailed her as the Breakout LIterary Star of the year, Hispanic Business named her twice to its 100 Most Influential list, and CNN listed her among its 20 most important Latino voices.
Hollywood, ever vigilant for opportunities to get rich, noticed that astronomical sales, and Alisa was wooed into several development deals, one after another, to make her beloved novel into a movie and/or TV show with big studios, networks and stars. Really big. No, really. BIG BIG BIG. But over and over the folks in charge were confused by the material, because they'd never seen anything like it before, and in Hollywood, it seems that most people want to be the first to do something...second.
Alisa was "encouraged" to make the characters stereotypical, to conform to the very insults she poked fun of in the novel, in order to get the film made. The familiarity of the old downtrodden nonsense was comforting to the executives, because they'd seen it all before. For instance, she was told by one major network producer to get rid of all the Afro-Latino characters because "black Latin Americans will confuse America, a no one wants to watch black people on the screen." Another network executive suggested Alisa rewrite the plots so that the women were dating men in prison, "because that's what your people do." Alisa (somewhat) politely refused, because she believes, as all good news reporters and artists do, that truth is truth, no matter how confusing it might be to those poor ignorant creatures who live beneath the foggy frumpy delusions of imperialistic myth. Or something like that. In short, she said "buh-bye."
After nearly a decade of watching the establishment try to ruin her book, and learning (because she's muy slick like that) how to make a movie along the way, Alisa decided to produce the damn thing herself, with the help of incredibly talented and supportive actors and crew members. The success of visionaries like Tyler Perry inspired Alisa to write, produce and direct her own film. "I might not be the most seasoned filmmaker on the block, but I certainly can't be any worse than what's already being made," she deadpans. In truth, she's been studying the hell out of filmmaking, and will excel at it every bit as much as she has at everything else she's done.
The only catch? We need money. Not a lot of money, really. Not by Hollywood standards. We're cheap. We're okay with our Hyundai. For now.
We think we can get this movie in the can for $1.6 million, and we think that for that relatively small investment, we will see tenfold returns, at least. Possibly a lot, lot more. We don't need big budgets, or huge stars, because a film like this will MAKE stars. It's time for new Latino faces in film anyway. It's also time for clever new stories, new respect, and new perspective. Talent makes the movie. So does new technology. The film won't cost a lot, but it will look like it did. Because we're awesome like that. We are pretty sure, given the fan base for this material in the United States and around the world, that the film will do very well once it's made...but first, it has to get made. And you can help. Actually, you have to. It's the only way.
The only way we're going to do this is if you tell everyone you know about it. Have parties in your town. Bring a laptop. Show our fundraising video. Ask your guests to donate. We can do this as a community. We can battle the stereotypes. We can have fun doing it. Let's do this. Let's make history!
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