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October 2015

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WOMEN BEHIND THE LENS 16 POST OCTOBER 2015 hen Nadine Mundo and Rena Mundo Croshere moved with their folks to LA in the 1980s, they experi- enced extreme culture shock. The siblings (born to a Jewish mother from Beverly Hills and a Puerto Rican father from the Bronx) spent most of their childhood on a commune named "The Farm" in rural Tennessee. Not much by way of me- dia and entertainment, Rena says, "We definitely were encouraged to use our imaginations." In LA, the two were ex- posed to a whole new world of music, TV, movies and art, and were eventually both drawn to filmmaking. Now, professionally known as the Mundo Sisters, they are the directing duo behind last year's short film for ESPN, Rowdy Ronda Rousey, about the UFC's first female bantamweight champion. The film, which premiered at the 2014 LA Film Festival, became the second most viewed film in ESPN history within 24 hours of its release on ESPNW. Before that, the sisters made their first foray into filmmaking with American Commune, which allowed them to draw on their own experiences. Most recent- ly, the two created a five-part series for ESPN that profiles five different female athletes at the top of their sport. What Makes Us, which aired on ESPNW over the summer, profiles pro-soccer players Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux, and Vero Boquete; pro-surfer Carissa Moore; and pro-hockey player Hilary Knighter. Here, Nadine and Rena speak exclusively with Post from their homes in Los Angeles. Do you think your childhood influenced you as filmmakers? NADINE: "We both have been really creative growing up, involved in lots of different arts — theater, bands, photogra- phy — and we each came to it on our own separate paths. I did a short documen- tary — the EP was Benjamin Bratt — and Rena was at NYU getting her masters in journalism and documentary film." RENA: "We were kids on this commune that was basically in the backwoods of rural Tennesee. It was a whole different world. Essentially it was in the woods, with dirt roads. We spent a lot of time as kids playing on our own. We were very deprived of media. Our parents were hip- pies well into the '80s when people forgot about that, so when we moved to LA, we had all these things we couldn't identify, because we didn't grow up in this world. But I think there's something to that, that once we did get access to film and tele- vison, we were really fascinated by it and really loved it. I think for us, fillmmaking and storytelling is an extension of that." What brought you to this documetary series about female athletes? RENA: "We did our feature documenta- ry, American Commune, and we did the festival circuit and Nadine met someone on the festival circuit who told her that he was doing something for ESPN. They were doing a series and looking for directors to pitch them ideas. We sat in a café for two weeks and got a bunch of ideas together and pitched ESPN. [What Makes Us] was all the way at the bottom of the list be- cause we thought, 'They're never gonna go for this.' Low and behold, they were really excited about it. We directed the short film Rowdy Ronda Rousey last summer and within 24 hours of its release it became the [second most watched] film in ESPN histo- ry. So that was really exciting and obvious- ly gave us a boost at ESPN. After research- ing all the stories in Ronda's film, we felt like there were a lot of these stories that were untold — amazing, incredible stories. It was interesting, because there were a lot of similar stories to Ronda's with the same kind of arc and issues, but diferent athletes and different sports. So, we came up with the idea, What Makes Us. ESPN was really excited and got behind it and they bought the series from us and we directed the five short films." What was your approach to shooting, editing and the overall look? What did you want to convey to viewers? NADINE: "We definitely took a lot of time in our pre-production and really planned the look of it. We wrote treat- ments for each film. We really wanted to paint these women as heroes, because they are and they've done some incred- ible work. Rarely are women in sports painted in that way, the same way that men are. We wanted to treat the film as more epic. So that really infused our en- tire process — everything from pre-pro- duction, picking out the locations, the time of day we were shooting, the type of camera, the lenses, even post." Were there any challenges? NADINE: "We shot on the Red Epic camera with these cool anamorphic lenses. In a way, it was a lot more like shooting with film, and it took longer and everything had to be more deliberate and set up. It took more time — we had to switch out a whole lens set. There was a certain amount of patience involved during the shoot, but it was worth it. "Also, the time of day was important — we wanted everything to be natural and organic. We shot everything at either dawn or dusk, for the most part. It was a good thing we're working with world- class athletes because we were like, 'Okay, we have a shoot tomorrow morn- ing at 5:30am," and they were on time and ready — very disciplined. But we had to be aware of light and plan everything around the light and time of day to get the best footage; that was really crucial. BY LINDA ROMANELLO THE MUNDO SISTERS FROM THE COMMUNE TO HOLLYWOOD W Directors Nadine Mundo (left) and Rena Mundo Croshere.

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