Capturing the Valley: Fresh from LA, San Benito native creates short film true to home

SAN BENITO — The humming of Amazing Grace is heard as images of the Resaca Trail, a local raspa stand and the water tower accompany two sisters on their journey.

It’s all in a newly-released trailer.

The short film “The Girls We Know” features the relationship between two sisters on a journey to get a Plan B pill.

The bigger trip was getting this film made.

Los Angeles resident and San Benito native Kahea Kiwaha wanted to create a movie that told a story that was important to him in a city that would always be home.

The oldest of five siblings — he has four sisters — Kiwaha said the film was inspired by his experience with his eldest sister, who was pregnant at 17.

Kiwaha said he wanted to tell a story of that struggle and shed light on a topic that is relevant in today’s political climate.

Kiwaha said he has always admired sisterhood and womanhood.

In fact, the main characters in the film were written tailored to his two youngest sisters’ relationship.

“It’s the ideas of the girls we think we know,” Kiwaha said. “I kind of wanted to explore how developed and challenging that struggle is. In this particular story they have each other.”

Kiwaha said he also tailored the story to fit his resources.

“I needed to make this movie back home,” Kiwaha said.

The biggest surprise to Kiwaha was the support and number of people who became so passionate about the project.

“I didn’t have any idea how big it could’ve gotten,” Kiwaha said. “It made me really happy to have the support from my hometown.”

How He Did It

Before coming back to the Valley, Kiwaha utilized Facebook groups to look for crew members and people to help with his production on a voluntary basis.

He didn’t realize how much help people were willing to give.

“It kind of confirmed everything I knew about the Valley,” Kiwaha said. “In L.A. you don’t get that. You don’t have these people that don’t know you and will randomly support you.”

The majority of support came from three local film groups including El Valle Films, Leal Media and the RGV Film Society.

Max Rojas, owner of El Valle Films, a Spanish-action film production group, said the film became a passion project for the local crew.

“Hearing what the movie was about, it really hit a chord,” Rojas said.

What’s Next

Kiwaha is already working on other projects including his first feature-length film and an episodic, both based on ideas in the Valley.

In the meantime, Kiwaha is finishing up the nine-minute film and is hoping to have it ready for the festival circuit at the end of this year.

Kiwaha said because his movie is based in Texas he is targeting Texas festivals including CineSol, a Valley film festival.

After the circuit he said the short film will be released digitally.