What do you do when one of your best homies is going through a tough break up? Well, just about anything you can to help him take his mind off it. For filmmaker Andrew Cohen, that meant indulging his recently-dumped buddy Enrique’s fantasies of becoming a Food Network Star.
After his long-term girlfriend broke up with him, Enrique asked Cohen to help him film a foodie road trip through New Mexico’s Green Chili Cheeseburger Trail, an offer Cohen couldn’t refuse. So they set off, leaving New York for a ten day trip through New Mexico to make a film about cheeseburgers. But Cohen had a better idea: He’d turn the cameras on Enrique, rolling day and night, and make the movie about his friend getting over his ex. The resulting film is called Chile Road.
And how did Cohen do it? With one small camera and a few SD cards, and the balls to lovingly mess with one of his oldest friends. This type of work not only requires the ability to stay focused when your subject finds out he’s been the mark all along, but also rolling with the right equipment. Cohen used a Panasonic AVCCAM camcorder – one step down from the slightly larger, more expensive HVX.
“You can run sound straight into it and you can even attach a light to it. It’s ideal for documentary filmmakers,” says Cohen. “It’s small, light-weight and not expensive, so if you break it it’s not a problem.”
The pair of friends would film all day and log all their footage at night back in the hotel.
“I found that worked particularly well for me with this production because we were traveling, filming for ten days straight,” says Cohen. “It was like, put in a battery, throw in a card and go. ”
Cohen says that when ever he’s working on a documentary (this is his third as director), he wants to establish a relationship with the people he’s filming. “You can try and fake it but that will come across on film,” he says, “Enrique and I have been friends for ten years so that was kind of embedded.”
Combining his equipment selection with the level of comfort only old friends can have with each other allowed Cohen to film very intimate moments of Enrique’s life-after-break-up.
“He was serious about doing this cheeseburger documentary and I’m trying to take it someplace else” says Cohen. “That was a strange line to walk.”
Cohen has submitted Chile Road to next year’s Sundance film festival. You can find updates at the Chile Road website.