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  • Writer's pictureGabriel Rhenals

Blog Post #177: Remembering Mireya Kilmon (1956-2024)!

Updated: Apr 4

Mireya Kilmon's indelible screen presence preceded her in our first interactions back in 2018. film-maker, a PBS television program showcasing the work of South Florida filmmakers, made this possible. Prior to reaching out to Mireya, I'd also looked her up on IMDb and seen an abundance of credits spanning nearly a decade. With such a testament to an artistic devotion characterized by consistent practice rather than mere lip service, I eagerly pursued casting her in my 1st feature-length film. In an early phone conversation, I was also charmed by Mireya's awareness and appreciation of my own work which had also been featured on film-maker. A promising start to what would be a fruitful, three-film collaboration.


On my 1st feature film For My Sister, Mireya was only scheduled for a day or two of work in an office building in Coral Gables. Unsurprisingly, she was always on-time, towing several wardrobe options, with all her lines down and sporting an air of absolute confidence about her approach to her character. I recall how intrigued Mireya was by the filming apparatus I employed (i.e., my phone and a microphone attached to a stabilizing gimbal held with one hand). Despite the low-rent but capable nature of the technology involved, she approached her work with the utmost professionalism and an informed trust in what I was doing. As a result, we were very productive and, as far as I'm concerned, her work is flawless as the ultimately callous super-ordinate Sheryl.


Mireya Kilmon as Sheryl in For My Sister (2019).

With Mireya Kilmon at For My Sister (2019) premiere.

Less than a year after the completion of For My Sister, the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down and I ultimately made the decision to film my 2nd feature film State v. Unknown exclusively using webcams. On my short list of actors I'd want to work with again was, of course, Mireya. I recall not the slightest bit of hesitation or doubt on her part about my remote filming plans upon reaching out to her to play the secretary of a hard-to-reach corporate president. Her part took no longer than an hour or two to capture but I ended our Zoom session with a familiar feeling of having spun gold between us. 


Mireya Kilmon as President's Secretary in State v. Unknown (2022).

About a year after finishing production on State v. Unknown, I began drawing up plans to produce my 3rd (and non-webcam) feature film Death Cleaning. Collaborating once more with Mireya was a no-brainer and I wrote a part with her specifically in mind; a kind and facilitative group therapist. She assented without question and I was thrilled to feature her in the third installment of my little micro-budget feature film trilogy. Filming 17 scenes in a single day, this was my most involved team-up with Mireya. It also prompted the longest day of filming we ever shared but I was never concerned about wearing her out. Mireya's characteristically mighty work ethic allowed her to handle the commitment with absolute grace. Oh, and we took the film production's only on-set group selfie that day. Her idea!


On the set of Death Cleaning (2023).


Mireya Kilmon as Group Therapist in Death Cleaning (2023).

I'd written to Mireya on the occasion of her February 13th birthday, beckoning her to attend an upcoming screening of Death Cleaning, but she replied several days later that she'd been admitted to the hospital. Unfortunately, this would be our last interaction and I'm guilty of the optimism of believing that any health matter of hers would be favorably resolved. Therefore, I did not inquire further. I expected that we'd continue to stay in touch and collaborate for many more years to come.

Artists have a tendency to stake so much importance on the preservation of one's essence through their work, particularly in recordings of the performing arts, and I suppose there's a modicum of truth to that idea. But Mireya didn't need the magic of the screen or stage to be endearing. Her magic was, in addition to her talent, the kindness of heart and generosity of spirit she showed toward fledgling creatives in the ever-changing circumstances where our alchemical work is done. For that, I will always be grateful.

 

Thank you, Mireya. May you rest in peace.



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