How to Make a Great Film for Only $9,000
Five Frames from Zach Weintraub’s The International Sign for Choking
Olympia-based filmmaker Zach Weintraub's second film was shot entirely in Argentina. Half of the $9,000 budget went to plane tickets, and the other half went to food and housing (the actors and crew were paid nothing). The mayor of the small town of Colón, Hugo Marso, gave Weintraub vouchers for the town's hotels and restaurants in exchange for the town getting a beautiful role in the film.
This scene, which has gorgeous curtains, owes its existence to the vouchers that the mayor gave to Weintraub. While using the vouchers for a free lunch at Akaroa, a restaurant in the heart of Colón, Weintraub decided to shoot a scene as he ate. Why not? The waitress got to play herself, and Weintraub added another beautiful moment to his film for nothing.
The wallpaper in the story is not wallpaper in reality. In reality, it's fabric Weintraub bought in Buenos Aires's fabric district, called Once, for $100 and hung on the walls. The illusion of wallpaper (the ability to replace one piece of fabric with another in no time) meant one room could play many rooms.
The film tells the story of two Americans who first meet in Buenos Aires, of a relationship that may or may not become something. The house Weintraub rented for his crew and actors, in the Belgrano district, is also the house that's rented by the characters in the movie. The fancy dress Anna is putting on is owned by the woman playing her, Sophia Takal, and was picked by the director before leaving the United States.
This room, piano, and window are owned by the man playing the piano, Roger Delahaye, a citizen of Buenos Aires. He, like the other actors in the film, received no payment for his performance.