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Production Notes

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Director: U Roberto Romano
Director of Photography: U Roberto Romano
Executive Producers: Albie Hecht, Susan MacLaury, Rory O’Connor, Eva Longoria, Raul Padilla, Alonzo Cantu
Producers: U Roberto Romano, Rory O’Connor
Co-Producer: Charlie Sadoff
Associate Producers
: Ingrid Duran, David Damian Figueroa, Andrew Herwitz, Brendan Hermes, Rebecca Katz, Catherine Pino
Associate Director: Julia Perez
Editors: Charlie Sadoff and Nicholas Clark
Original Music: Wendy Blackstone
Release : 2011
Running time: 80 minutes

Much of U Roberto Romano’s career has been dedicated to covering child labor around the world. Like many Americans, he thought this was a problem that existed elsewhere. In 2003, while filming Stolen Childhoods, he was shocked to discover that it existed in our own backyard, American children laboring like they were in a third world country. He teamed together with Producer Rory O’Connor and answered the non-profit film production company Shine Global’s call for projects. Susan MacLaury and Albie Hecht, the co-founders of Shine Global, were also stunned to learn that this was happening right now and right here in America and were determined to make sure this story was told and these children’s voices heard. When the project was brought to actress and activist Eva Longoria’s attention, she wanted to jump on board as an Executive Producer.

Principal photography began in Minnesota and North Dakota in June 2007 and continued in California, North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana through the 2010 harvest. Romano spent more than 210 days on the road and traveled over 75,000 miles through 24 states. The crew was always small and often consisted of only Romano, allowing access to places that larger crews could never go and preserving the intimate atmosphere of the film. The addition of Associate Director Julia Perez midway through the first summer was a windfall. A former migrant worker, her knowledge and experience were invaluable and her presence made the families feel more comfortable. Said Romano, “Wherever we shot, we made sure filming wouldn’t jeopardize anyone’s comfort or security. We are thankful for the support of the farmers and the openness of the families who allowed us to film. “

Romano reached out to activists working with migrant farm workers, attended conferences, and began to make connections with passionate individuals who cared deeply about the condition of these children. Finding children to follow was a long and difficult process that continued throughout much of the filming. Romano and Perez interviewed over 50 children and eventually selected 5 children with compelling stories to follow.

Catastrophic weather, the worsening economy, illness, and even death all combined to hinder the production on numerous occasions over the 2 years of filming. Of the original 5 children selected for the film, only 3 are in the final version. Perez was able to locate the last character almost a year after we had begun principal photography.

The film was shot with a Sony Z1U and a Canon HV 30, cameras chosen for their durability and travel-friendly size. But even these cameras couldn’t always work in the extreme conditions of the fields and Romano had to use a system of repair and rotation. This raised the obvious question, if the weather can break down one of the most durable field cameras, what must it be doing to the children and their families? The film has an in memoriam in the credit sequence to Maria Mojica, who was interviewed in California in December of 2009. At that time, she was undergoing chemotherapy for lymphoma. In her interview she described her life as a migrant and then told us:
"I have cancer in my blood due to all the chemicals I’ve been exposed due to my job since I was a young girl. The doctor’s say it is one of the reasons why I have cancer. That is what I inherited from working in the fields, which is why I tell my children that the best inheritance is for them to study so they won’t be where I am now."

She died six months later. In his last interview, her youngest child, Chuy, shared with us that he feared he and his sisters would also have cancer someday. Maria Mojica shared with us her hope for her children: "I would like for them to focus on their studies and graduate. That is my dream." Maria Mojica’s dream should be our dream.

Please download the press kit for more information.

Visit IMDB for full cast and crew details.

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