Graduate student filmmakers from the USC School of Cinematic Arts discussed the development of writer and director Kelley Kali Chatman’s SCA thesis film Lalo’s House at a panel held at the Interactive Media Building on Wednesday.
The event, titled “Our Voices: Kelley Kali Chatman, Garcelle Beauvais, Lisa Wilson and Victor Pourcel,” was sponsored by the USC Media Institute for Social Change and the SCA Council of Diversity and Inclusion.
“[Lalo’s House] is a story about two young Haitian girls that are abducted and placed in an orphanage that is an underground prostitution ring,” Chatman said.
The film was executive produced by actress Garcelle Beauvais and producer Lisa Wilson, and produced by USC MFA film and television graduate student Victor Pourcel. The film was written by Chatman and Yasemin Yilmaz, a graduate of SCA’s MFA in screenwriting program.
“The story is inspired by a series of true events from the work that I was doing in Haiti,” Chatman said.
Chatman first went to Haiti in 2009 to gain an understanding of restaveks, Haitian children who are sent by their parents to serve as domestic workers in households that could support them better.
“If there was a family that couldn’t take care of their kids, then someone in the community would agree to take the kid in and offer to take [them] to school,” Chatman said. “Over time, bad people took advantage of the situation.”
Pourcel said that he wanted to use the film to educate audiences because of the broader appeal of a fictional work.
“When documentary audiences come to the theater to see a documentary, they already know a little bit about the subject and are already in agreement,” Pourcel said. “But the idea is to reach out to a broader audience.”
Pourcel said that he and Chatman started the project in September 2016 and crowdfunded over $45,000 to make the film.
CORRECTION: An previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Victor Pourcel executive produced Lalo’s House. He actually produced the film. The Daily Trojan regrets the error.