Filmmaking is a family affair for the Schmidt Family, who live in Coronado. They describe their new film “The Island of Lost Girls” as a family thriller — think Swiss Family Robinson meets Alfred Hitchcock — which will be showing for the Coronado Island Film Festival (CIFF) on Friday, October 11, at 5 pm at the Ferry Landing.
They have already premiered “The Island of Lost Girls” at a variety of film festivals, including Montreal, Poland, Russia, and Ireland, and are looking forward to going to an International Film Festival in India soon. They excitedly shared that they may get to meet the President of India while there.
Without giving too much of the story away… picture three young girls striving to stay together as they get trapped in a cave, amidst crashing waves, surrounded by sea lions and elephant seals. It’s a compelling story of survival and sisterly love. The girls highlight that this is not “a jump scary movie,” but promise high tension, designed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. They started filming this movie in 2016, but the pandemic had a major impact on their schedule.
Both Dad Brian and Mom Ann-Marie helped direct and film the movie, and also have small roles. This adventure loving family, with six kids ages 15, 12, 10, 8, 5, and 3, love the beach and exploring sea caves, which is evident in the movie. They note that the film was half scripted by Brian and the other half naturally evolved, as they adjusted to the various environments, while filming on various locations. The kids also chimed in on story ideas. Avila, the eldest, recalls that she came up with the seashell eating scene.
Locals will recognize the ice cream sundae eating scene at Clayton’s Diner, as well as a brief Coronado beach bonfire during the ending credits. Other filming locations included the La Jolla caves and the lighthouse and surrounding area in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. The girls remember learning how to collect seagull eggs, noting the yolks were red and tasted like chicken. Making movies is enjoyable for this family, and the girls laugh as they say their dad is always joking and tricking them into doing things. Daughter Autumn recalls complaining about tuna crabs pinching her while shooting a scene in the sea, with her dad not believing her until he got in the ocean and was nipped himself.
Hours of filming, too numerous to count, were whittled down to a captivating one hour and 40 minute adventure. The girls said that they have received all positive reviews from their friends and other film festivals that they have attended. Brian laughs as he points out that sometimes, after people see the film, they are surprised the girls are still alive. The family shared that they are open to making a sequel, if they can get the funding.
This is the second film this imaginative family has made. Their first film “The Incredible Adventures of JoJo and His Annoying Sister Avila” was crafted over a ten-year period, debuting in 2014. Ann-Marie shares that they have been invited to more than 50 film festivals and says the family has shared incredible experiences. The girls unanimously agree that Ireland was their favorite country to visit and immensely enjoyed their time there.
Their inspiration for creating films has come from reading “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” They also love to watch retro Harold Lloyd movies, as well as “Walk About” directed by Nicholas Roeg. After making their own films, they now have a greater appreciation for older movies, without all the computer effects, and note that it’s impressive how they pull off scenes.
When asked if they want to be actors when they grow up, these creative girls shared that they have learned it’s a difficult industry. Avila loves to draw and has won numerous art competitions, while Autumn enjoys singing, dancing, and acting. Scarlet aims to be a stunt actor. The boys are too little to think that far ahead, but they did contribute to the film, by helping create sound effects during post production.
When asked if making their own films has changed the way they view movies now, Avila said she intently analyzes films, visualizes behind-the-scenes, and can spot mistakes. After the family watches a movie together, they dissect it to determine how it was put together. They point out the special effects, what parts were edited, and other key details.
When not filming movies, this family is always on the go. They love to go cliff jumping, and enjoy other outdoor activities like riding motorcycles, skateboarding, riding scooters, roller blading, surfing and horseback riding, to name just a few favorites. Personally, I can’t wait to see “The Island of Lost Girls”, this local family’s film which promises moments of sisterly love and thrilling adventures.
This is just one of the many deserving films showcased at this year’s Coronado Island Film Festival, which runs November 9 through November 13. The wide array of films and informative panels include foreign films, independent films, documentaries, animation, culinary cinema, and celebrity tributes, certainly something for everyone to enjoy. For schedule and ticket details, visit www.coronadofilmfest.com.