Vote for Forced into Silence!

As a finalist for the IndustryBOOST Competition Forced into Silence needs all the votes and comments it can get in order to win! please go to: https://getindiewise.com/5jwqmwARBQK to watch this, and many other amazing films from great up and coming filmmakers – but watch this one first, and vote for it 😛 

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November Update

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Salt Water will be undergoing more edits

With all of what’s happened during the past few weeks it’s been difficult to keep myself together with my work, but here are a few things that’s happening or that are scheduled to happen this month.

  1. I moved to a new location – we’ve known that I’ve been looking for a new place to settle down and I’ve finally found one that I’m incredibly happy with.
  2. While I haven’t had much time to sit down and work, the few moments, hours I’ve had to do so I’ve realized that I’m not happy with the final cut of Salt Water and will be working on the edits once more. Once I’m incredibly happy and super satisfied with it, I’ll release it (thank God I didn’t release it already!) and submit it to film festivals, and later on upload it to my YouTube Channel.
  3. I’ve started to think of the perfect way to edit the pilot for the Silent no More docu-series. I do need a bit more footage, and do some additional recording myself – then it’s going to be perfect.
  4. There’s an upcoming surfing event (the Saturday after thanksgiving) and I’ll be covering that for the No Boundaries X Magazine – a publication that focuses on extreme sports and healthy lifestyle here in Puerto Rico.

What’s going on with the Film Festivals?

forced-into-silence-official-poster
Forced into Silence is still competing at Film Festivals! 

So, I’ve been waiting to hear from the 11 festivals I’ve submitted Forced into Silence to and while I’ve been accepted to one – and voted to win the Best Documentary award for that festival, there are other festivals that the film is still “in consideration” and others that have already rejected it. Why? Well, I don’t know, since they don’t give explanation for their decisions. I’m thinking it could be anywhere from the fact that I used Google Hangouts (because of budget restrictions) to make most of the film happen or the topic of choice of the film – again, I don’t know. However, I’m still hopeful that it makes the cut for those other festivals it’s still in consideration for. I also keep on getting invitations to submit to festivals. It’s all confusing and exciting, so I’ll keep you guys posted on that as I am informed of decisions, invites and more.

Political postings and rants

It’s been a tough couple of few weeks for me and my fellow liberals – and although I’ve never made a posting about politics, the results of an election, but I felt that this was more personal than any other election. I’ve been accused to be part of the snowflakes that are too delicate to deal with a real Presidential candidate by those in the alt-right – to which I say: “I’m too progressive to regress to segregation, religious registration and prevent a possible genocide of any kind” therefore I made a post about how I felt the political outcomes of both countries I’m directly involved with affected me personally.

Moving forward…

20160802_163946I’m putting together a group of amazing people in order to launch a podcast for those who need to hear about how to take on challenges in this world. So many people come up to me and confess to me their admiration for how I deal with issues in my life and ask for advice and that has inspired me to make a podcast to give people a new perspective as to how to see and deal with issues in their lives. I’m often told that I put things in a viewpoint that perhaps they would have never thought of – and maybe the podcast will enable me to help people that aren’t just my friends. Right now it’s an idea, so it’s going to be a while before I get that off the ground and running – still, stay tuned!

And since it’s November, happy holidays to everyone out there!

FiS’ First Film Festival!

forced-into-silence-official-posterI am extremely excited to announce that my passion project, Forced into Silence, is part of the Official 2016 Selection of the IndieWise Virtual Film Festival!

This is a unique sort of festival, it’s virtual, so that enables anyone can see the films from wherever they are in the world! With that said, I need your help to bring my film up to a popular status, and therefore further build an audience for it.

 

Please go to: https://getindiewise.com/xjJK36Y5ra and vote for my film – it’s easy to sign up, it’s also free and not only will you get to see the sneak peek of my film (I only included the first 1:30minute because it’s still being considered for other film festivals, and I didn’t want to get rejected for streaming on a digital platform) but, you’ll be able to see other amazing films from all these great emerging filmmakers!

Please help my film and its story make it! I thank you all for your support

Documentary Q & A

Forced into Silence (Poster 1)How did Forced into Silence come about?

I have to say, that much like the general population, at one point I thought that men could not be assaulted, abused, or victimized in any way unless the perpetrator was another man. It never dawned on me that it could happen. Then, while I was doing some investigations for a series of articles on gender-based violence I stumbled on an article where a man relates his experiences with being raped during conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). His experiences were very similar to that of women who experienced the same attacks. Several years later I saw a surge of organizations and articles detailing the signs of abuse and what men could do in order to seek help. Not many at the time were taken seriously. And some were extreme about their views – and that was damaging. However, there were events that were happening closer to home that made me want to really dive into this topic and bring to light the long lasting effects of abuse towards boys and men that we, as a society, continue to dismiss.

What were the challenges while making the film?

I’d say that besides finding the proper funding – the biggest challenge was getting people involved.  As a filmmaker you think that because you believe in a project, that it will translate to others and that you’ll miraculously get some sort of funding for your film. But that’s not always the case. This documentary is a good example of that. After researching for several years and making a few videos for The Good Men Project and for fundraising purposes – I still failed to get people interested enough in the film for them to make an investment. Although I did get some donors via GoFundMe and KickStarter (a total of $200.00 from both sites combined) it still wasn’t enough to make the film happen like I wanted it to. And even as KickStarter didn’t release the funds that were pledged to the campaign because it missed the mark by the due date – I still credited these people for their donation, why? Because they believed in it and did whatever they could to see it happen. When it came to getting people involved, it was another monster in itself. I’d reach out to people – both specialists and ordinary and they’d agree to be a part of the film. But when the day to record came they couldn’t be found or they’d cancel the day before. It was quite frustrating. All of this let me know that people didn’t want to speak about the abuse of men. The victimization of what society deems as the stronger gender – instead of deterring me from getting the film done, what this did was further motivate me. To me, there was this huge demographic of victims that were being ignored and forced into silence (redundancy intended) that it enraged me. So, I made this film with what I had – footage I had from a visit to New York and put it together with some interviews recorded via Google Hangouts and hoped for the best. It’s raw, it’s harsh, but that’s the nature of the subject matter and it fits perfectly.

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Google Hangout w/Christopher Anderson of Male Survivor

What is the basis of the film?

The film features interviews with medical professionals (e.g. physiologist, counselors) and speakers who have specialized in the area of healthy development of young boys and men when it comes to their sexuality and relationships. They also specialize in counseling those young boys and men who have experienced some type of abuse during their life. It also features an interview with speaker and abuse survivor Christopher Anderson, CEO of Male Survivor, along with other abuse survivors with the purpose of providing a platform for those men who have or continue to experience abuse to seek help by realizing that they are not alone, they do not have to conform to the antiquated (and very damaging) views of what a man should be.

But, doesn’t this go against feminism?

No. I believe that, much of the accomplishments done by the empowerment of women around the globe, we have to create a movement where we defy what ‘real men’ are supposed to be and create a conscious platform that includes emotional, physical and spiritual wellbeing for men and women around the world. As a feminist, I believe that we should be equal in all aspects and have the right to be emotional in our own way. Just as we should have equal pay, we should have equal protection under the law and not be shamed or have our claims doubted when we accuse someone of rape because of our genitalia. Furthermore, Misandry should not be confused with Feminism.

What can we expect of this documentary?

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BTS: Bryant Mancebo in Harlem, NYC sharing his experiences

Plenty of things. Those who participated in the making of the film share so much information about treatment as well as their personal experiences that it would be a disservice to summarize it in a few words. I’m eager to have people see the interviews with both Levi [Louis] and Bryant [Mancebo] who experienced different levels abuse by their former partners. Both men had the courage to open up about their experiences to me that I can’t wait the audience to hear what they have to say.

When will the film be released?

Right now, the documentary is making the festival rounds – having been submitted to the Warsaw Film Festival already, with a few more to come during the next few months. I’m hoping that it gets selected for at least one. But, the film will be available to the public by next year. I’m also trying to organize a private screening party for it – so right after that happens it will be available for streaming.  

What’s next for you as a writer, director?

At the moment I’m working on the next documentary while simultaneously working on the promotion of Forced into Silence – principal photography for Beneath the Waves will be happening sometime this week, as well as working some grant proposals for submittal (for financing). At some point I’ll start working on another short documentary that will also be focused on the environmental theme. In the near future I hope to start filming a docu-series further exploring the theme presented in Forced into Silence, as well as a scripted short film that can be tied to it all to put some more perspective as to why this particular theme is so universal and important for us to continue discussing.

That’s a full plate if I’ve ever seen one! You mentioned a scripted short film, are you working with writers? Is that something you’re interested in doing in the future, directing scripted films?

Hahaha! I guess it is! Right now I’m working on developing my own screenplays. The short film is an intense film based on real events and I think would make a good addition to what I’m doing right now. When it comes to doing scripted work, I mean if the goal is to be a visual storyteller, you cannot limit yourself to any one genre – as a director you’d have to be able to not only successfully tell stories that are scripted, but also non-scripted work like documentaries. My point is to tell compelling stories that people can identify with. Stories that will make people think, and want to do something about it. To tell stories that will change at least one persons mind.

The preview for Forced into Silence can be seen on YouTube here: Forced into Silence Official Preview

 

 

 

Never Falter

Forced into Silence (Poster 1)

As most of you have read up on, I’ve been heavily working on my passion project Forced into Silence for the past month and am happy to announce that, after three years of film production, and a total of five years of planning, researching, pre and post production the documentary is finally completed and ready to make its festival rounds – which has already officially begun, since on Monday, April 4 – I sent the first submission kit out for consideration!

I have to admit, there were many days in the past that I wondered if this film was ever going to see the light of day. I wondered why I wasn’t being awarded either a filming grant or journalism grants to finance the film. I wondered if I was doing the right thing, or if I was even taking the right steps to get my film made. But one thing I never once second guessed was that the message of the film had to be heard.

I remember when I first began production on the film, when I began reaching out to therapists and former victims of sexual assault and domestic violence; I was invited to give a talk at a college in New York. During the talk I was asked by one of the students if I would ever give up on making this film. My short and quick answer was “no”. The student, a young female who seemed surprised by my rapid response followed up her inquiry with “no matter how long it takes?” again, I said “no matter how long it takes” and I explained that I’ve known of filmmakers having to wait seven years to complete films and release them. A most famous and perfect example would be that of Richard Linklater’s Boyhood – granted it is not a documentary, but to dedicate oneself entirely to a film and it’s message that it took about 12 years to make – I could think of no better example of dedication to the making of a film. This was something I was ready to do with Silence.

During a prolonged moment of frustration at what seemed to be the end of my project, I decided I wasn’t going to let it die. There was no way that I was going to give up on something that I was so determined in making since 2012. Most importantly, I didn’t want to leave male victims without a voice – something, that while there have been more reports about men being victimized in current mainstream media – is still a challenge for many people to admit, believe and even face. Their voices need to be heard. The crippling social stigmas need to be challenged, so does the extreme factions of both a patriarchal way of thinking and feminism.

Bryant Mancebo - FiS

The way we’re living is changing. We need to change with it.

This documentary means a lot to me. Not because of the responsibility that I’ve placed on myself without anyone asking me to, but because I’ve seen many men who are close to me struggle with their victimization, and struggle even more when trying to speak out about them.  I couldn’t go on without doing something. I couldn’t continue living in a world where women were taken seriously about the violations towards their minds, bodies and emotions, but men were being laughed at, dismissed and shamed because they were violated in the same ways. That to me has never been acceptable.

For now, I’ll leave you with this update and continue to work on my other projects and developing stories for the future – I just want you to remember: Don’t ever falter in the pursuit of your dreams. Don’t ever give up. If you do, you’ll never experience the incredible feeling of happiness and satisfaction that comes with making your dreams come true.

25 things I’ve learned from being screened at a film festival

RIFF program and tags For the past seven months I’ve been working really hard to really make an entrance into the filmmaking world.

For years I’ve been looking to produce a film that made a difference in my life as a person and a story teller. Never did I imagine that a short film about surfers was going to do that.

I knew I had something good in my hands, but I didn’t know how good it was. Surfer dudes looking to help the environment and community by organizing beach clean ups and promote surfing, body boarding and long board skating to the next generation – this was a topic that I knew people would want to see. That the surfing community would want to share with others to challenge the negative stereotypes they’ve been labeled with for far too long.

In that process I didn’t know how this small film was going to impact, not only me as a person, but my drive to continue exploring this topic and bringing the message of conservation to the masses.

full audience at the Rincon International Film Festival - Documentary Night
full audience at the Rincon International Film Festival – Documentary Night

However, through the process of submitting and being officially selected from the 1,500 submissions, to be among the 87 Puerto Rican filmmakers to be able to showcase their films in such a huge platform like The Rincón International Film Festival, has been an incredibly learning experience. Here are the top 25 things I learned from it

  1. I’m way too hard on myself – it wasn’t until I saw the title of my film on the big screen in a jam packed room of people eager to watch the documentaries for the evening schedule, that I was convinced that it was all really happening. Still, I managed to see the mistakes I made and think “I need to make that better” and “God that’s an awful cut”. A lady from the audience came up to me and gave me a hug for a job well done. I was surprised.
  2. Being a solo filmmaker doesn’t make you less of a filmmaker – As the single writer, director, editor, producer and location scout I had my hands more than full during the process. It also made me more confident to compete with the teams of filmmakers that were present during the event. Not once did I think I didn’t belong there. No. Instead I found myself full with certainty that I belonged. There was a deep sense of gratification and satisfaction knowing that what a team of five or 10 people accomplished I did all alone.
  3. Having a huge production team doesn’t guarantee you a win – while watching the judges award their selections, I noticed that among them was a team of two – so it’s about craft, storytelling and dedication to the piece.
  4. Being informative doesn’t mean you have to be boring – There were some really awesome films that made an impact and were fun to watch.
  5. Being artsy doesn’t mean you are being informative – while there were films that were fun to watch, the message was a little lost. There has to be a mixture of both informative and artsy.
  6. My car hates me – seriously, she hated me for driving her two hours to the west. She got so mad she fumed and didn’t want to start. It was only after I stopped for gas, let her cool down, gave her some water, coolant and some special liquid treat that she turned back on. She also does not like traffic (she rattles in it), but when coming back home, she was so excited that the smooth commute took a little less than 2 hours…wtf?
  7. Fun music in a road trip makes all the difference – I mean, seriously, I kept on thinking how horrible it would be to be those guys in the Volkswagen Passat commercial with the Spanish DVD…So I want to thank: Adele, DJ Marvl, Calvin Harris, George Ezra, Calle 13, Cultura Profetica, Sia, Matisyahu, and Ellie Goulding for making/mixing some awesome music that people can drive to.
  8. My fear of public speaking > anything – really, the most dreaded part was speaking in front of the audience about my film. I mean, everyone became a blur, and I noticed I was having a hard time standing….
  9. I should worry less – there are many things that I do, and one of them I shouldn’t be doing is worry. I worry if the work is good enough, if the message is good enough, if the audio, if the music is perfect…I should trust my instincts more.
  10. Puerto Rico has an incredible amount of talent – it’s really exceptional. I knew there were some pretty talented people here, and I was lucky enough to be recognized among them, but there are so many more talented people, so many artists, so many great filmmakers here, it’s amazing.
  11. The Expresso (Freeway) turns into local PR-2 around Arecibo – really jarring for me. Usually, when going to a place I have to navigate the dozens of un-marked streets. This trip made it extremely easy to drive those hours because it was straight driving, only two turns; one right towards Rincón, and left to go into the hotel.
  12. I’m really attached to my dogs – all the while I wished I could have at least one of them with me…
  13. There are moments I want to cherish without a photo – not everything should be photographed, or shared in social media.
  14. Experiences like these give me motivation for new projects – even when crowd-funding hasn’t been successful and I’ve resorted to starting my line of handmade beach and tote and shopping bags in order to raise funds. I’m even more motivated to start on the next project now than ever before. There is no amount of obstacles that can make me say “I’m not going to make this piece”. I can’t wait to get behind the camera again!
  15. Never give up (even when others insist you do) – Your dreams are yours, and you should reach for them no matter what. Doesn’t matter if others understand them, support them, or not, never give up on the things you want to do. The rewards are countless once you reach that goal. Trust me.
  16. Don’t worry about the people who aren’t there – When I was checking in at the Filmmakers table, I told the girl “I have three people coming in” and she asked surprised “Only 3?!” I smiled and nodded. If I would have said that three years ago, and heard that reaction I would have cried. But last night I didn’t care. Three people I knew, one of which came with his small family came to support me, support the film and say “we’re here”. And while my father was home bound (his health has been incredibly poor lately), I knew in his heart he was incredibly proud. Every photo I posted of the event he shared within minutes. He called me twice to see how things were going. I got text messages from friends and some family in New York City congratulating me. That was way more important to me than having an entourage of people coming say “we’re here for you”.
  17. I’m not the only one who has a “producer parent” – nor will I be the last.
  18. Even professional filmmakers make transition mistakes – I saw it, with my own two eyes and I felt better about mine….hehehehe.
  19. You’ll find support in the most unexpected places – truly. After the second time I had to go up and speak in front of the audience, as I was walking back to my seat, a lady hugged me. She loved my film so much, she hugged me. She wanted to see more of it and that was priceless. That is what I’m looking for with my films, to make that sort of impact. It was incredible.
  20. I should be upset with my equipment – although I’ve been dying to get new filmmaking equipment, I shouldn’t knock the one I have. It’s worked well for me so far, and I should be grateful that I have it. Because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to make the film, nor would I have been able to get a warm hug from my first fan. Awesome – I love you Cannon Rebel T3i!
  21. Rincón is beautiful, and it’s also called “Stella” in Google maps – Which caused me to want to enjoy a Stella, in one of their amazing water for developing countries chalices. I also wanted to scream “STELLAAAAAAAA!”
  22. People will try to help you if they see you have car troubles – no matter where you are, there are genuine nice people that will offer a helping hand for car troubles. In turn, that restores my faith in humanity.
  23. I am a filmmaker – despite the fact that I still can’t believe it. I am a filmmaker.
  24. Being obnoxious is not pretty – nope…not at all.
  25. Humility, tenacity, and willingness to continue to learn will take you a long way – it will also ensure your career is a long lasting one and your success is consistent.