New Material released! (and coming soon)

I’ve been working on a few projects the last few weeks (almost a month now) and I’m happy to announce that they’re all ready for viewing!

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subscribe to the PR Surf and Skate Club’s YouTube Channel to stay up to date on their awesome work! (and also mine…lol)

Partnering up with the Puerto Rico Surf and Skate Club has been a great deal for me. I’ve seen how they work in the past, but I didn’t quite realize the impact they had on children in the neighborhood, until working with them in creating videos for their newly created YouTube Channel. The non-profit works with children who are interested in learning the sport and with parents whose children have been diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities – so they can gain the focus and social skills they need to lead productive and independent lives.

You can watch the 12 minute documentary about the club here. There are also a few interview videos you can watch if you know Spanish, you can see them here and here. They are fun and short videos about volunteer work, their motivation and the impact the children have from their clinics in the beach and the local park they learn how to skateboard.

Writing is an art best left to flourish

Besides working on these videos with the Club, I’ve written the script for a short film that I’m sure, will make a huge impact on the audience once I’m able to produce it.

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The Speaker, inspired by actual events (short film) written by me! 

Logline:

The story follows a girl who’s ready to give one of the most important talks of her life – She’s nervous and when she closes her eyes she’s reminded of all the events that brought her to where she’s standing. The gritty, the painful; the moment she realized she wasn’t alone and most importantly the moment she realized she wasn’t worthless because of these bad experiences.

It’s a powerful script, with very jarring scenes. The sort of jarring scenes you only see in real life, which is apt, because it is based on real events. I’m really happy with the script and will be soon submitting to screenplay festivals to gain some funding to be able to produce it.

Skype is seeking talent

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still shot from my proposal video to Skype

With all that’s been happening (submitting Forced into Silence to festivals along with the aforementioned work) I’ve submitted a grant application to Skype Shoot the Future with hopes they select my docu-series project proposal.  The proposal is to produce a series of short documentaries further exploring the issue I present in FiS in a pragmatic and inclusive way to be able to find a solution to a problem that only continues to increase as the years go by, a problem that affects us all as people, as partners, as a beloved to anyone.

So, plenty has been happening with my professional life! I’ve been working really hard to be able to continue to produce content – even without any funding. Because not all filmmakers get to have donors, or financiers; even if they have pages like Patreon up and running – which you can see with mine there’s not one donor signed up to it. Oh well. Still, I’ll continue to make my work happen the best that I can without the money – I won’t let that stop me.

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

 

 

 

What have you been doing for the past 5 years?

We’re often so focused on the goal that we forget to take a look and enjoy what we’ve already accomplished. It isn’t until we are asked, in earnest, what we’ve been up to – when we realize what we have already done in the process of trying to reach that end goal.

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try to tell me that Kris Holden-Reid doesn’t look like Chris Martin

I was recently having a conversation with a friend. Telling her that I had a new celebrity crush and how confused I was because the actor looked so much like Chris Martin from Coldplay – and since I’m not sure if Martin is a handsome man or not, he is in fact a funny guy and that could work for me. As the conversation progressed to me saying something like “I’ve been single for like five years, I’m ready to settle down with the right person” she asked me what I’ve been doing for those years; my answer:

 

  1. I’ve been taking care of my Dad;
  2. I’ve been taking care of myself;
  3. I’ve edited 5 manuscripts, 2 of which have been nominated for several Latino Literature Awards;
  4. Been featured in an investigative journalism collaborative book;
  5. Given talks at La Guardia Community College;
  6. Completed 3 films – one (unreleased) scripted short and two documentaries – while starting to work on a fourth film;
  7. I’ve written my own novel that’s yet to be published (because I haven’t pitched it out really);
  8. I’ve written two feature length screenplays, and most recently a short film screenplay;
  9. Gained an incredible amount of weight due to depression;
  10. Beat my depression and became active with Pilates, dance, and swimming;
  11. Became a part of the #EveryBodyInAds movement for the Irish Jewelry company Trinkets Jewellry

While listing all these accomplishments makes me feel mostly awkward – as if I were overtly bragging on the things I’ve done, it can serve as a reminder that I haven’t been wasting my time during the past five years. In fact, I’ve been setting up a strong foundation to my career as a filmmaker and positive role model/figure to encourage people to keep on working on their dreams despite their current challenges. As a full time caregiver of a parent, I have to say – it’s hard. Very hard to do anything else other than worry for them, stay on top of their medical appointments and other things that they need. Still, I manage to do so and ensure that I take time to myself while I’m making sure he’s well. Because if I’m not good, there is no way I can do anything for anyone else.

Still, while I’m mostly uncomfortable with bragging on myself – I do feel a bit of annoyance when people who haven’t met me personally, have gotten to know me as the “one who organizes stuff” or “keeps things super clean” or “the one who can go shopping for an entire outfit in 10 minutes flat” from what they’ve heard from people that do, in fact, know me.

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some of my acquired skills is interviewing, directing and editing footage

Although we’re not our jobs, I have worked hard in many different areas and have done other things than be super clean and organized, and fast at clothes shopping. Being fully aware that I’m far from being financially successful/independent – I have to stay that I’ve put a lot of effort at building the foundation to acquire such success/independence at a not-so-far-off date. Maybe that’s what most people classify as successful, and until that isn’t achieved – one can only be known as the one who is super organized, clean and fast at clothes shopping.

At a recent get together with an old friend – she introduced me to some of her new friends – one of which shook my hand and said “I know everything about you!” and then proceeded to tell me “you go shopping for clothes and don’t try them on, and they still look perfect on you”. I wasn’t shocked to hear that from her, since the person who introduced her is always commenting on those particular things about me. But, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t much else to talk about.

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you don’t think I can’t carry a conversation? EW! 

Nothing is worse than having a person not interested in starting a conversation with you because they don’t think you’re have anything worth talking about. Their knowledge of you does not dwell into anything further than the simple skills – and they care not to make conversation based on those facts that they’ve heard repeatedly about you. They don’t know about your hard work, your goals, and don’t know about the other set of skills you’ve honed for almost all your life and are putting into practice professionally.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you know what you’ve done and what you’re planning to do at a later date. For brief moments, it’s okay to just be that person who is super fast at picking out clothes and excellent at organizing – because there will come a time when you’re going to be that person who will be known for what you’ve been working towards.

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snorkeling over some awesome coral in Vega Baja in 2014

So, while many people I’ll most likely not interact with again continue to know me for my OCD’ness – I will go snorkeling and start working on my next film.

Hopefully I’ll find the right guy to settle down with as I’m making my life happen

What does it mean to be a part of the bigger picture? (an essay)

Before I built up the courage to be a creative (journalist, writer, director, producer, etc.), I wondered what it meant to be a part of this life. What did it mean to be in the “spotlight” and if I would be willing to give so much of myself – parts that I wasn’t quite comfortable with yet.

As I’ve mention in previous posts, I’ve struggled with my own body image which led me to be so insecure that I was [self]crippled from pursuing my dreams. But, once I began to love myself – that meant peeling away the layers of insecurity that mounted from societal standards of what I was supposed to be – and began to see who I truly was, what were my real and honest passions and desires for my life and career, I began to see what it truly meant to be a part of the bigger picture.

But to tell you how I slowly became the person I am today, I have to tell you a few small moments that meant the world to me.

  • It was 2008 and I began blogging – I wasn’t writing anything remotely related to journalism, but I was writing short stories of what I’d experienced throughout the days during my commute, at home with my roommates and everything else in between. I wasn’t looking for stardom. No. What I was looking for was an audience, something to let me know that there were people out there that would read my writing and enjoy it. I kept on writing, tagging posts, and whatnot, when I suddenly got an email from a new website that was starting up and looking for good content to publish. They reached out to me and asked me if I would be a part of their website since they liked my content so much. It was surreal, I didn’t know what to think, I didn’t know if it was real or not. But in the end, I was part of the hand selected pioneers for this website that featured bloggers from around the world. I had gotten the right feedback to motivate me to keep going.
  • Back in 2011 I was working as a journalist for a Spanish language publication in Brooklyn. I was covering an event where I, as any journo would, stood up and asked a question. You see, when a journalist does that they have to say their names and what outlet their writing for. I had done this many times before, and many more times after…but this day was different. A local girl, college age came up to me after the event and introduced herself. She looked nervous as she introduced herself and added “I’m a fan of your work, I feel you really represent the Latino community with your articles”. That was the moment I knew that what I was doing meant something, and not just something to me, but to at least one other person. That girl – and I saw as her eyes lit up with empowerment from being properly represented in the newspaper.
  • It was 2012 and I heard the nonprofit publication that I was interning with at the United Nations had acquired a new editor. This editor had a reputation of being extremely hard on journalists – to the point that I read reports that she had made veteran journalists cry. So naturally I was frightened to work with her. Our first line editing sit down included me ready to write down anything she said and hoping I didn’t shed a tear if she said something horrible. I remember shaking in my pants next to her at the UN cafeteria early in the morning as I saw her sip on coffee while mine was getting cold. Then, Ms. Orla Healy told me she was impressed with my story on Child Soldiers in Colombia. The second time I sat down with Ms. Healy, I was still expecting to be dissected into a subatomic level, but again was left disappointed when she said she was impressed with the story and loved my work. I thought to myself “I can handle this time of disappointment” and realized that as a storyteller I was doing something right.
  • 2015 there I was, unsure if I made a good film or not. I wasn’t sure if I did a good editing job, if it was enough….but then it was selected for a film festival and I was told “you are enough, you are good, keep going”. At the festival, after I was asked to come up to talk about the film, as I was walking towards my seat – a complete stranger came up to me and hugged me and thanked me for making the film. “We need more content like this, thank you for it”.

These are just a few moments, small seconds when I was reassured of my passion, my dreams….of myself. See, it’s hard to believe you can do something when 98% of what you hear from others is “you’re not good enough” “you’re living in a fantasy world” along with “people who look like you never get to live that life.” It’s hard, it’s challenging, but it’s not impossible to learn to love yourself, believe in yourself regardless of what people tell you. I know, because I did it.

After all the hardships, nervous breakdowns, counseling and what seemed to be eternal self doubt – I found myself ready to be free of the burden that is self hatred and of the destruction that comes with it.That meant getting mentally ready to be part of something bigger than me. Part of what others see as motivational or inspirational in more than one way.

Today, as I’ve become more confident of being able to achieve my dreams than I’ve ever been, I share with you the news of my participation in a new and wonderful campaign that features “real women” as their models. But before I explain about the campaign, let me just say that all women are very real – and the term “real women” apply to those women you interact with every day, those women who are brilliant in their own right, have amazing smiles, sparkling eyes, wonderful posture. Women who are strong, smart, sassy and fearless – women who the media do not consider being the definition of “beautiful” because they lack some qualities (e.g. thigh gap, fair skin, fine nose, wispy hair, etc.) but I truly believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and everyone is deserving of love and being called beautiful.

Now, to the campaign – #EveryBodyInAds is a campaign that started with a question I trust many women of color, with curves, plus size, or “different” has asked themselves when they open a magazine, look at a catalog or even go shopping “where am I?” As a curvy woman of color, I didn’t see myself properly represented anywhere in magazines or television until America Ferrera and Gina Rodriguez showed up….

As the creator of the campaign and founder of Trinkets Jewelry puts it “the campaign started out as ‘where are the pictures of real women in advertising?’  I now prefer to say “EveryBody in ads” as the “Real Women” phrase can be troublesome to some folk. I think it implies that some women are not real and that is not the intention. This campaign is NOT against anyone identifying as a woman in any way. It is about learning to love yourself!” adding that “roles in movies for ladies over 40 are pretty few and far between. Young slim models are used in advertising and this unrealistic “norm” is almost always often photo-shopped to show something completely unattainable. This gives women and girls a completely unrealistic idea about what a normal body shape is and leaves them believing they are the only person in the world with cellulite. I can’t change the world but I can in my own small way do something about this hence the campaign to use a diversity of women in my advertising. 

To which she is entirely correct. Many of the reasons behind the progressive or body positive models like Tess Holliday, Nadia Aboulhosn and Denise Bidot is to change the narrative of beauty, fashion standards while showing that women who are not a size 0 are worth being looked at as well. Still, the casting in Hollywood continues to be insanely off. Many young actresses are moving to the “leading lady” role while women who are in their 30’s and still quite capable of performing these amazing roles are pushed out. Meanwhile their male counterparts can be seen aging on screen without a problem. It has always been quite disturbing to me how a young woman in her early to mid 20’s was casted opposite a man who is in his late 40’s early 50’s as a romantic interest. I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way.

With campaigns with #EveryBodyInAds we can continue to push out this disparity in gender on television, movies and change how fashion magazines portray beauty to our impressionable girls who are starving themselves to become that model they see on the pages of the magazine. But, it’s not just the girls we should be protecting and promoting to be represented adequately in fashion. Our boys are suffering too – making manorexia a term that has been reported on as seen in this UK Daily Mail article.

According to statistics “males make up about 10 to 15 percent of those who suffer from anorexia. Teens and young adults between the ages of 12 and 26 make up 95 percent of those who have eating disorders,” with “anorexia is the most common cause of death (up to 12 times higher than any other condition) among young women ages 15 to 24.” With these numbers increasing, many regulators have decided to step in and do something about what we are exposed to in the media.

In France, a model with less than a Body Mass Index or BMI than what is suitable for their age, height and body structure – as indicated by a healthcare professional cannot walk the runway. Many have objected that this is regulating women’s bodies – but I argue that it’s helping us stay healthy and forcing those in fashion to not impose their standards of beauty on the rest of us. This, along with the change in size of mannequins in several stores in the US and Sweden, along with body positive campaigns like that of Dove, Lane Bryant and H&M the narrative of beauty is changing for many women like me. Still, I feel there’s a long way to go when it comes to recognizing each other as beautiful.

We’ve been saturated with images of what is acceptable as pretty, desirable, beautiful and sexy for centuries, that we still shame those who dare to bare it all in confidence.  Often women are told to cover up their bodies should they be heavier (even if they’re pregnant) – while being urged to take it all off to sell a burger. Men are told they have to have six pack abs to be sexy and tall in order to be sexy. And while we all should be healthy in order to have full lives so we can have countless experiences in – we can achieve health at any size.

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here I am, modeling the long drop gold and diamante style trio set for Trinkets Jewellry

So, I say that I cannot be more proud to be a part of a campaign that promotes body positivity in such a wonderful way.  To be able to be an inspiration to people, not just with my stories, but with the fact that I genuinely love who I am, how I look and encourage others to be confident within themselves, is one of the things I wished to accomplish with my life.  To me, that’s what it means to be a part of the bigger picture. To help people not only tell their stories, but to help them change their stories.

I no longer work for free

I’m sure that I’m not alone in this when I say “I no longer work for free.” Many of the problems in today’s job market is that people aren’t willing to pay for the services that they are in need of. For the past four years I’ve seen job listings like the one below (which is a complete satirical mock up of what one sees, but not so different from the actual truth).

Job Posting

We’re searching for creatives in the fields of graphic arts, redaction, PR, marketing, and social media, production, etc. for our [event, project, etc]

Requirements

Associates, Bachelors degree or equivalent experience in the aforementioned fields;
in order to be considered for the position please provide:
Demo;
Published clips;
proof of work;
Two 2x4photos;
birth certificate;
skin graph;
and other DNA sample

Benefits

You’ll get to have a once in a lifetime experience by being a part of our event (film, indie art project, etc). You’ll have the opportunity to meet people in your same field, possibly ‘get hired’ by producers who will attend the event – we’re joking those people will most likely ignore you because you’ll be too busy with the workload we’ll give you so they won’t even see you really. You’ll also be blessed by bringing the bosses tons of coffee, donuts, sandwiches, dry cleaning, etc. If you perform well, we’ll provide you with a recommendation letter which will be subject to how effective you were at bringing us our food, hot beverages or our verbal abuse. You’ll also have the benefit of working a ridiculous amount of hours for our project (event, etc) without any sort of monetary compensation or the security that you’ll be chosen as part of our team in a future event because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity event! so apply now, because this won’t ever happen again – until next year.

**THIS IS A NON-PAID POSITION**

 That’s right – you will not be paid, and will not have a guarantee of being selected as part of the next event/project that has secured a countless amount of private donors and sponsors.

I know that being in the film industry is tricky. I know that I chose to be a part of a field that you either paddle for your life or you sink like a rock. But, I’ve realized that one can only paddle so far without help. And while I have no troubles with providing free or low cost work to those fellow struggling filmmakers, who have incredibly special projects that they’re trying to get off the ground with no financial backing whatsoever – I do have a problem when others try to sell mediocre or horrible opportunities as “once in a lifetime” opportunities.

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this does not help anyone, nor is it a once in a lifetime opportunity

To me it’s very much like handing a person a broken oar that will make them go in circles in the water and telling them “hey – you’ll get places with what I gave you – that’s a great opportunity you’ve just been handed there sweetie. No. IT’S NOT.

Knowing the quality of your work is something incredibly valuable – knowing your value as a professional is priceless. Not giving it away for free to just anyone is very important.

Why am I making a fuss about this? Why am I not jumping at every opportunity that’s presented to me? Because if I continue working for free, for everyone that wants me to be a part of their team I will never be valued for my abilities. Also, I’m not sure as to why this is, but many people are surprised to know that I’ve accomplished quite a few things in my career. After seven years as a journalist/photojournalist for some awesome media outlets, and now as a filmmaker, I’ve begun making progress and starting conversations with my work. I’m determined to keep on making strides, keep on starting conversations, and determined to no longer work for free for those people who just want to take advantage of those, like me, who are starting out.

Unless I think the project or event is really special and the organizers are doing everything they can to make an impact with the little they have. Those people, I will help with everything I can. I will support the people that are struggling to make ends meet while chasing their dreams, for them I will work for free without a problem. I won’t however, provide those who have tons of sponsors or private donors with my services for a non-paid internship, or volunteer position because they think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s completely unacceptable.

Leading by example

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a struggling up and coming filmmaker. I never, not once expect anyone to work without compensation of some kind. Everyone I approach I say “I cannot provide you with monetary payment for this, but I will provide you with [gas money/transportation, free lunch, etc]” as a way to keep them part of my team for future projects that I hope are financed by either myself or producers or both.

Right now I’m working on saving up money for a private screening event in February 2017. It’s difficult because as a person who has not yet found a (paid) job in Puerto Rico, and hasn’t found financeers for her projects – there is only a limited source of income that doesn’t provide me with much. However, not only am I expecting to pay for the venue, but I’m hoping that with the money I save I can give some sort of monetary compensation to the two people I’m asking for help with the organizing of the event – because that, to me, is the best way to cultivate professional relationships.

Furthermore, since I’m extremely organized and have most of the event planned out they are to do very minimal on that day – still, I do not expect them to do it for free. Nor would I ask them to, out of respect for their time, efforts and dedication to me, the event, and my film.

So, I say again “I will no longer work for free” because if I don’t put value in my work, my abilities, my accomplishments – who will?

Filmmaking is tough, but make that shit work

When I used to ‘dream’ about being a filmmaker I knew that it had to be a huge difficult process to make a film with so many actors, crew members pre and post production phases. But I really had no idea how challenging it would be until actually becoming one.

After getting over the fear that was crippling me from going into ‘the industry’, I’ve quickly learned that producing, directing and writing for film is an incredibly difficult. It’s also very rewarding, incredibly so. Through the difficulties one faces as a filmmaker, the fact that you get to have a film completed and are able to showcase it on a platform (e.g. film festivals, internet, etc.) or that you can share it privately with a group of selected investors is indescribably satisfying. So much so, that one almost forgets the troubles faced during the production process.

The operative word being: Almost. As a new filmmaker I have a lot to learn, but also, I think I know a little about storytelling, you know, by being a journalist and all. I’ve always known what exactly I wanted to communicate – mostly being a visual thinker, the journey into documentary filmmaking was only a natural step towards furthering my journalism experience.

Still, with all the experience I had as a print journo, that didn’t guarantee me to have great connections or a set platform as a documentarian. As the world of news is going an extensive and arduous process of remolding. Some even thinking that print and digital news will be dead in a few years. Paired with the agencies like the Chicago Sun, who fired their entire photography team and pushed for iPhones to be used as cameras for their stories, while others advertise for unpaid internships available, because they cannot afford to pay anyone due to dwindling hard copy sales and little subscriptions to paid e-memberships – journalism has taken a hard blow to the gut and face the past decade or so. My challenges as a journalist didn’t prepare me for challenges as a director.

As a one-woman-production-team I am in charge of everything. EVERYTHING. From pre-production, to casting, to writing, planning, legal preparations, site scouting, recording, editing, music rights acquisition, to funding….everything. I do it, alone. While it’s very educational, it’s also very exhausting and sometimes frustrating. But in the end, when everything is done and I click that “render” button on the SONY Vegas Software® I feel all of that wash away. I look back and laugh at some things, while others I look to see how I can make things better.

For the first short film I wrote, directed and produced, I cast three people. I should have known then, that I should have held off making the film when I was having problems casting one of the roles. While that role wasn’t a lead, making me ready to step in front of the camera, I finally got someone to fill it. A few minimal script adjustments and we were ready to go. But, I was missing one of the most important aspects of filmmaking: RELEASES.

This is what can happen if you don’t have your releases signed, an actor who changes his mind from being in your film and states so, and without his consent you cannot present it without running serious legal risks

Facebook Communicae
translation: “I regret working on the short film, my girlfriend didn’t like it much and my relationship ended, partially because of me”
Facebook Communicae
Translation: “I would feel more comfortable if the short didn’t get screened”

To have an actor, or a person you’re going to interview sign a release means that you can showcase the film even if they change their mind of being in it. You have the right to show your work, without worrying about them not liking it, because, they signed a ‘waver’ of sorts for you to use their performance, their words, their images in front of the camera. This is very important. However, as an amateur and one person team, and with all the troubles I had encountered during the pre-production process, I wanted to get things done so badly I forgot to have these three actors sign releases. Post-production was a nightmare.

I managed, however to move on to other projects and re-think this one, probably make it longer, rework the script to add more characters, make it a different setting. Film it in NYC perhaps…or leave it in the original Puerto Rico setting (because I like it more). Who knows, the point is you live and you learn.

While this piece was a fiasco, filmmaking was still my calling. So, I moved on to Forever Boogies, and for a virtually non-existent social media presence my film has been viewed some 450 times on YouTube, inspiring me to push forward with my next project Save the Coral Reefs, another short documentary about conservation.

My long time and close friend, and mentor in the indie film industry Kevin Tudor, award winning and critically acclaimed short film writer/director of Truths and Fairytales advised me today to keep going. His exact words were “at the moment when you feel it’s not going to happen, that’s when you push. Whether it takes a moment to stop and rethink or just push harder, make that shit work.”

And that’s what I’ll do…I’ll make that shit work.