By Anike Tourse
At the end of the last day of “America’s Family” reshoots, when the bottles of tequila and mezcal broke out, I buried myself in bags of wardrobe and props and lugged sandbags and boxes of antibacterial gel to my garage. Cinematographer, Christian Palma and Casting Director and Acting Coach Aurora Nemegyei, both from Mexico, were staying with me in lieu of a hotel in order to keep our budget down. As they toasted each other on a job well done, they pleaded with me to take a break from all the clean-up and join them in their celebration.
“Anike, you should be very proud,” said Christian, “You did it, you made a movie.”
I eyed them.
We had finally finished filming, yes (maybe). We even had a rough cut. But now we had new footage to edit, not to mention color correction, VFX, a sound mix and a soundtrack to develop on the horizon. I couldn’t help but think of all of the work that lay ahead while still bleary eyed from the exhaustion of the shoot. Perhaps we were now more done than not done and yet we were still so far from where we needed to be.
“You were persistent and you made it happen,” Aurora said.
"Persistent is not an appropriate word,” I responded flatly as I continued to organize and carry.
“Perseverancia,” chimed in my DP. “That doesn’t work either,” I answered.
Persistence; an obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of opposition or perseverance; the persistence in doing something despite delay in achieving success, were not strong enough terms to describe what we had gone through and would continue to go through towards completion. Neither factored in the colossal amount of time the project was taking, the slipperiness of resources, the struggle with personal limitations while maintaining a collective vision. There had been gains along the way for sure, but also significant losses and good reasons to change course and give up. Giving up was not an option that I had chosen, although there were times that perhaps I should have.
“If those words aren’t right then we should make up our own,” Aurora said cheerily. “I’ll start with the first part; Ova.”
“Me,” Chris added.
“Ovameo!” Aurora raised her glass.
We then went on to break the word down as if it had always been in the English/Spanish/ Spanglish lexicon.
“The word ova comes from ovaries, the source of where we come from,” Aurora explained.
“The middle is pronounced like the English “me,” Chris emphasized, “not the Spanish “meh.”
I looked it up.
Ova, the scientific word for the female egg cell, is the root of the word ovaries like Aurora said. While a Google search for the catch phrase “having balls,” connotated various notions of courage the search for “having ovaries,” directed only to diagrams of the female genitalia followed by detailed discussions of cancer and twisted tubes. Nowhere was it suggested that an ovary could metaphorically stand for longevity or fortitude or even creativity which is interesting considering that nothing can really happen, even start to happen without it.
When it came to exploring the second part of our word, we didn’t have to look much beyond ourselves. I don’t know any other artist as present and confident in his abilities and yet so free of egoism as our Director of Photography Christian. So it seemed both appropriate and understandable that “me” would be his second syllable contribution. If I have learned anything from Chris, it’s that its best to catapult yourself into the center of your vision rather than to balk from it. Certainly if you have done your job, community will come and help you carry the work across the finish line, but the project still lives and dies by your hand. If at any time you decide to pick up your ball and go home no one will blame you. No one will stop you either.
And then my addition to the close of the word, the letter/sound “O,” as in yodeling “yodele-o, yodele-o, yodele-o,” from the mountaintop. Imagine hearing the “O” echo bounce from the great canyon of your being, on through the wind to course energetically between you and others. Adding the stamp of “O” is akin to turning up the still small voice within on blast, to the tune of trust. O is what seals the commitment to continuance.
Aurora found beats on YouTube and started rapping about all of the ways you could use Ovameo. Chris drummed on the table and I finally sat down and added a chorus. To finish a movie, any movie, Ovameo. to raise a family, Ovameo, to do the unthinkable, the impossible? Ovameo, Ovameo, Ovameo. We laughed and drank into the night singing about birthing our creation and I suppose birthing ourselves. This was a word I could get behind and one that could take us through the next stretch. Ovameo meant that we would be able to create what it is we would really need.