[dropcap]G[/dropcap]ood things come in little packages, and “Hollygrove” is one of those pleasant offerings. The new documentary by the filmmaker and writer, Carlos Hurtado, is based on the true-life story of Monserrat, a young woman at the famed orphanage where Marilyn Monroe once lived. Only Hollygrove is no longer an orphanage, but a thriving support center for youth.
It was there that Monserrat received much needed help for her drug and alcohol abuse, and got a fresh start at life. Ruby Stewart (famous rocker Rod Stewart’s daughter) reached out to Hurtado about Holloway. “She had seen one of my documentaries and asked that I make a film to help them raise funds,” he told EXTRA in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
“If it’s to help kids, I will do it. We should never take our good fortune for granted,” he said. Hurtado expressed how close he is to his family. “My mom and dad and my two sisters are the biggest supporters in my life and my biggest cheerleaders. My parents always told me to follow my dreams,” he said.
As a kid growing up in Los Angeles, Carlos dreamt about paying baseball. But when an injury got in the way, he moved on. Now, instead of a bat, he has his camera. “I was swimming against the current, but I just swam harder,” he said. “I had to have a positive attitude through it all. A little at a time, as you keep working, you get where you want,” said Hurtado. “It’s important to keep that dream in the back of your head all the time.” His favorite movie growing up was “Goonies” and the spirit of togetherness it gave him. “It didn’t matter what mood you were in, a movie can take you on an adventure. I liked how those kids were going to find a treasure to help their family,” he added.
To make the film about the good work at Holloway, Carlos spent some quality time there. For the first six months, he attended the programs, played basketball and really internalized what he was going to film.
“The filming was during the last month there,” he said.
He asked Monserrat to share something “that could change someone’s life, that would contribute to other people, something with heart,” he said.
It was then that she had a breakthrough, and for the first time revealed the horrible thing that had happened to her as a child. “She had never revealed her story before,” shared Hurtado.
A surprising detail is the use of animation to tell a tragic story. Hurtado explained the rhyme and reason for this. “She was going through a dark time and wanted to show how she would see it as a child. The use of animation helped portray her life as if in a surreal nightmare, through her young eyes. This is something that live action could not do. You see it a lot more purely, even with what happened to her, there is that innocence of a child. A 7 or 9-year-old mentality is still working and looking at it differently than we would. Using an actor for this would not have done it justice.”
“It’s a huge responsibility taking someone’s life in your hands and portraying it on the screen. When I’m editing, I think to myself, ‘how is she going to feel?’ I started to feel it more and more. And the first time I showed it to her and the organization, I was terrified,” Hurtado said.
He understands that staying connected to people as the project becomes bigger is difficult, and he told EXTRA how he stays grounded. “You would hope it can reach people. There is a tricky balance of being able to do more, but it really depends on you. The ultimate goal is to tell a story that comes from the heart. Some people may want a happier ending, but you must be true to yourself, and have a conscience. This is a medium that costs a lot of money to make. That’s the unfortunate part, but at the same time when you get into this, you have to understand that,” he intimated.
Carlos Hurtado won at both the Cannes and St. Tropez Film Festivals in the category of “Best Short Documentary” for “Hollygrove” and officially qualified for consideration for a nomination at the 87th Academy Awards/Oscars. His future goals include making a feature debut film in Mexico. See more at www.carloshurtadofilms.com.
This post is also available in: Spanish