I met Jose Villiamonte in the late 1990's while he performed at the Hollywood Farmers Market. I sat and watched him for a few years before it ever occurred to me that I should make a project with him.
After Josh and I finished making Only In America, I bought a Panasonic DVX100 videocam and decided I needed a quick project to break me in to my new camera. I was thinking this as I walked past Jose one Saturday morning, and hastily approached him about the idea. This was a colossal mistake that I would learn a very hard lesson from.
Jose was blind from the age of 11 in central Mexico. He learned to make money performing on the streets as a child, and he relocated to Los Angeles in search of a career in the music industry. For decades he played the street fair circuit.
One of the hardest lessons I have ever learned in my life was the idea of being right sized. My intention when I approached Jose was to help him get his life and talent documented so that he might be able to capitalize on it with dvd/cd sales. My intentions were in the right place, but my ego didn't fully understand where my abilities truly were. I was not a production studio. I was just a guy with a camera and a big vision. And I promised the world to Jose.
We shot 8+ hours of interviews, and another 4-5 hours of him performing. I shot the whole piece with him speaking in his native Spanish, and I had an interpretor working with us. I also booked a recording session in which we recorded 5 of his original songs. My vision was to make a feature length documentary film with an album of mixed live tracks along studio tracks.
I did get most of the material. What I didn't have was the where-with-all to finish what I started. To this date, this project is still not finished.
The result of this is that I really hurt Jose's feelings and hurt our friendship, not to mention how bad it feels to not finish my work. I hope someday to really finish this piece and be able to finally present it to Jose.