“Season of the Witches,” a psychological thriller produced and directed by an all-women team of film industry professionals, will be rolled entirely in Puerto Rico this summer, this media outlet confirmed.
The project has a “micro budget” of less than $3 million, which will go toward hiring a local crew of producers and actors, and other investments, said Sherri Daye-Scott, founder of Everybody Eats Media, the production house heading the project.
In an exclusive interview with this media outlet, Daye-Scott said the film will portray “Puerto Rico as Puerto Rico, to help bolster the economy and reinvigorate the film community.”
The project calls for employing 50 production crew and extras from the island. That alone represents 80% of the film’s budget, she said.
She, along with her team of writers, directors and actors — which includes two Puerto Rican women — are on the island this week scouting locations and meeting with potential investors.
They are also looking for a local producing partner to handle and understands how to best work with the government, specifically, the Puerto Rico Film Commission, which is the agency in charge of allocating tax credits.
“When we originally started looking for investors for the film, and said we wanted to shoot in Puerto Rico, the absolute answer was, you can’t shoot in Puerto Rico, you gotta shoot in Savannah, you gotta shoot in Los Angeles. Financially, it makes no sense to shoot in Puerto Rico,” Daye-Scott said she was told.
“But we couldn’t shoot in Savannah, because Savannah doesn’t look like Puerto Rico. So, finding the right producing partner here will allow us to take advantage of what’s here. We have some meetings this week with people who are interested in the project,” she said.
“Season of the Witches” is inspired by a girl’s trip that Daye-Scott took to the island four years ago with her best friends and stayed at the Dream Catcher hotel in Condado. Essentially, she wrote a script depicting the opposite of the “amazing trip” they had.
“We have these four women who are volunteering in Puerto Rico after the hurricane and they make a mistake. It’s about what to do in a stressful situation,” she said, without giving away too much of the plot.
Ilene Liff-Mier, who is from Puerto Rico, was brought on to the project after the script was written, “to make sure the Spanish was Puerto Rican Spanish, and that the things these women were experiencing is because they are in Puerto Rico.”
“This will be a love letter to the island because the idea is to capture the essence of the island and the people of the island and what they’re really like,” she said.
The other women on the film-making team are: Director Deborah Riley-Draper (“Coffee Will Make You Black,” “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”); Associate Producer Mikki Taylor (Editor-at-Large Essence magazine); and Puerto Rican-born Betsy Landin, associate producer and actress.
“Season of the Witches” is expected to take 20 days to film in June or July and be finished before year’s end. The production team is currently working on the distribution. Ideally, the film would be shown in movie theaters or via streaming with a partner like Netflix, Lifetime or HBO, for example. Introducing it in film festivals is also on the table, Daye-Scott said.
“In any case, the film will be premiered in Puerto Rico,” Liff-Mier said, adding a portion of the box office sales will be donated to nonprofits on the island.