Electric Blue

I’ve been working on a few things, one of them being this short story about love lost, found and peace within….here is an excerpt of Electric Blue, the short story/essay I’m giving out for free

“As the years have gone by I still think of him. I wondered why I was given such an amazing love for such a short period of time…or if it was wonderful at all…I wondered why and how his heart became filled with so much hate…

Since then, I have felt myself falling in love with someone who declared admiration, desire to share a life with me, but that love was not as deep – it was a cautious feeling that I knew was going to leave me with nothing. As I said the words I felt this new person gearing up to disappear as well, and my feelings were not mistaken. While he said he wanted to ‘explore his feelings’ for me he left my life in such a speed that it would rival The Flash.

Still, until this day I haven’t felt the same way I felt those two weeks I spent with him. For years I hadn’t felt electric nor had I seen blue, I haven’t fully recovered…but I have discovered that it is when I’m in the ocean that I feel free.”

You can download the short story here: Electric Blue

Advertisements

Questions for an Independent (woman) Filmmaker

I’ve had several people come up to me and ask me how I’ve managed to write, direct, produce and release two short documentaries, one feature length documentary and the pilot episode for a docu-series – all without funding.

Also, people wonder if I just pretend to not have any money and continue to work and magically produce funding for each film. So, with these wonders (or questions) and others I’ve yet to mention I’m making my first entry in a while to clarify a few things; both professionally and personally. So, here we go!

film-collage

Q: How do you make your films?  

For the past few years I’ve been making my films with a Canon DSLR Rebel T3i Camera, a Panasonic audio recorder and editing footage with Sony software. The camera I’ve used it since my days as a journalist and has never failed me – well, once, because it was under the sun for too long and it over heated. But after a few days to recover it went back to working just fine. I don’t have much money to spend on making films – so I turn to technology a lot as well as try to get in touch with people at the placed I can afford to travel to. While many people may find it a bit difficult to see past the low to “sugar-string budget” of my documentaries – I hope they can see the message and story I’m trying to tell with each one of my films.

In essence, to make one of my films it’s about $1,000 on average with the resources I currently have. I try to extend each and every dollar, so I do most of the work myself. I direct, I manage camera(s), I edit, I use a free online music database under a creative commons license – I distribute, send out press releases and submit to film festivals all on my own. This takes a lot of work, but the even a single positive comment on a film is more than enough compensation for all the hard work I’ve put into one particular project. Also, the internet is a wonderful platform to distribute films, and it’s free.

Q: If you don’t have any money to keep on making films, what keeps you motivated?

Let’s face it, not everyone is made for this. While I don’t have the finances right now, I have to say that my determination and my passion for making films is what drives me; it keeps me motivated to continue with being a story teller. Why? Because while, it is somewhat about me and attaining my dreams, it’s also NOT ABOUT ME, but about the stories I tell, the people in it and the characters that represent people who have gone through hard times. My passion for making film is way bigger than the whole in my pocket. Because of this, if I feel a topic needs to be discussed or addressed in film, I’ll find a way to make that happen. Also, knowing that this process is what would be considered a “marathon” and not a “sprint” it gives me the patience to continue working slowly and surely on achieving short and long-term goals.

Q: You seem to lead the perfect life, how do you stay so positive all the time?

I don’t lead a perfect life – my life is quite complicated, the thing is I like to keep things very private…and I’m not always positive. Truth is I struggle with depression and I’m under constant stress over taking care of my father. Yes, I get to go to the beach whenever I want, but I don’t always have the time. Yes I live in a tropical island, but that doesn’t mean eternal happiness. Yes I smile all the time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m always happy. The way I deal with it all is: meditation. I have to take at least 2 hours to myself to work out and meditate right after. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be struggling with depression, the depression would take over completely and I’d be paralyzed with pain and despair. Like I mentioned before, my determination to keep moving forward and accomplish my dreams is very big – bigger than my depression and my wallet.

Q: How do you balance all your responsibilities with work?

Simple: Scheduling – there is a time and place for everything and I heavily rely on scheduling and sticking to time frames. I also have to accept days as they come.  There are days that nothing can be done about anything….where stagnation is the theme of the day. Instead of fighting the fact that I can’t accomplish a particular daily goal or get something done that dayI just go with the flow and let things take their course. If I fight, that only adds to the stress and I have enough of that already. Meditation helps so much with keeping me mentally balanced and stable and throughout the day I meditate for a few minutes if I need to. Just take a moment to breathe, acknowledge thoughts and move along. Also, having pets and spending time with them and basking in their pure unconditional love helps plenty.

Q: Are you in a relationship? Aren’t you afraid of intimidating men with your independence, intelligence and self sufficiency?

I am currently single…and NO. While so many people have advised me to tone down my “strong” characteristics, but, I’ve found that the person who is right for me will not care about my sense of independence since I’ve had to do so much for myself for so long. They’d understand me, support me and encourage me, just like I’d do for them. The key is to find a person to care and show they care in the little ways – because it’s the little things that count. So, no, I’m not afraid of intimidating anyone with any bits of my personality. Just the same way they shouldn’t feel afraid to intimidate me with any bit of theirs. If that happens, then they’re not the right one for me – or I for them.

Q: How far do you plan to ride this “filmmaking train”?

For the rest of my life and into the Oscars, BAFTA’s, Cannes, Golden Globes…and all the awards before that…

Q: How does your own experience influence in your writing and film ideas?

It influences plenty. There are many things I’ve gone through that can be found in my writing and things I’ve seen firsthand that influence the topic of documentaries I make – I have a few screenplays that have tidbits of my life, but people won’t know what they are unless they know me personally – it’s fun!

If you have any questions for me, you can send it to me via email (see side bar) or just add them to the comment section!

To stay up to date with the films I make and upcoming series subscribe to my YouTube Channel and be sure to watch Forever Boogies and Salt Water!

10 shows that have inspired me (2nd Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of the television shows that have inspired me; be it story-wise, visually, or overall. While the first list featured a set a older shows that made a difference in my life, this new list focuses on the newer shows and how they have inspired me in any way.

  1. Vikings (History Channel; Starring: Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Gustaf Skarsgård, Katheryn Winnick) – I love Vikings, their whole myth and reality of exploration, import, export I think it’s absolutely fascinating and have been reading up on the things Vikings have done since I can remember. One of the reasons why I love them so much: they were the first society that treated women with equality. There were shield maidens who fought side by side with men, and made their own decisions when it came to marriage, divorce, children, etc. So when History Channel decided they were going to make a show based on the lives of Ragnar Lothbrok, Rollo (who ended up being King of Normandy) and Shield Maiden Lagertha, I was thrilled! While some pieces of the show are not entirely accurate, the fact that Lagertha (Winnick) is such a strong and independent character from both Ragnar (Fimmel) and Rollo (Standen) reflects the realities of how women in Viking society were treated – including being able to hold positions on their own.
  2. Bates Motel (A&E Network; Starring: Vera Farmiga, Freddie Highmore, Max Thieriot, Nestor Carbonell) – Let’s face it, for anyone who has seen Psycho the idea of Norman Bates being THAT obsessed with his mother is unnerving. However, I wanted to know, HOW, did he get to be that obsessed with his mother…Bates Motel gives a good look at the origin of Norman Bates, his relationship with his mother and brother and how he came to be, with a mixture of modern and retro looks this series is quite entertaining, unnerving and engaging, and Highmore is the perfect Norman!
  3. Fuller House (Netflix; Starring: Candice Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin, Andrea Barber) – I cannot make a list of shows without including the sequels to my childhood favorites. When the announcement came that they were going to revamp the series, I was worried, but after watching the first episode of the Netflix hit and laughing my face off, and crying during some episodes and laughing like crazy again – Fuller House is one of my new favorites. One thing that I would like is if they’d stop featuring the old characters (Danny Tanner, Uncle Jesse & Becky and Joey) so that the Fuller clan can shine on their own – because they’re more than capable of doing so.
  4. The Last Kingdom (BBC; Starring: Alexander Dreymon, Ian Hart, David Dawson) – Back to Viking land! This historical fiction drama that focuses on two characters that actually existed (it has been stated that they lived an estimated 200 years from one another in history) Uhtred of Bebbanburg and King Alfred of Wessex tells the story of how the ambition of man can lead to mixed loyalties and what men who have power ultimately want for their country. It’s greatly written, performed and engaging. Uhtred (Dreymon) is a young lord who saw his father killed in battle, was kidnapped by a gang of invading Vikings and raised as one of them, when he’s older he’s forced to flee from the land he grew to call his own and seek refuge in his former homeland where he is now considered and outsider. The story has multiple layers, lots of battle, some witchcraft and a Ragnar – although this one is called Ragnar the Young.
  5. The Get Down (Netflix; Starring: Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Herizen Guardiola) – What is better than Hip-Hop, 1977 Bronx, Disco and Baz Luhrman put together? Nothing, the answer is nothing. The Get Down is also a historical fiction take on the rise of hip-hop from the poverty stricken South Bronx a-la-Luhrman, the filmmaker who has a passion for music but makes incredible films. The performances are amazing, the young actors cast a spell on you when you see them on screen navigating the realistic sets that resemble that of a broken down Bronx in the mid to late 70’s that brought me back to when I was a baby and my mother would take me down the street to the little shop my Dad set up to sell tostones, pollo frito, bacalaitos and other Puerto Rican favorites. The only thing I can’t get over is the forced Puerto Rican phrases from the actors, but everything else is fantastic.
  6. Chelsea & Chelsea Does… (Netflix; Starring: Chelsea Handler) – I’m a big fan of Handler’s, she tells it to you straight and I think that moving to Netflix from the E! Network is the best thing she could have done to her career. Many thought it was a crazy gamble because not all of us understood how late night and streaming would fit in. Still, it worked. Her transition show Chelsea Does, had her exploring tons of topics: drugs, marriage, children, racism while showcasing a more human, vulnerable Handler that not all of us knew existed. In Chelsea – she continues with the tone set up by her docu-series and talks about things that matter: politics, education, medicine, science, history, money with a dash of celebrity guests and skits. It’s fun to watch as she educates herself through what she’s called the Netflix University. Stream it, you’ll love it too.
  7. Stranger Things (Netflix; Starring: Winona Rider, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Noah Schnapp) – Thank you Duffer Brothers for scaring the bejezuz out of me! I haven’t watched anything like this in a very long time. The mystery, the performances, the story, the reveal, it’s all amazing. I couldn’t stop watching it! Set in 1983, the time when kids could ride their bikes home at night after playing Dungeons and Dragons for hours in their BFF’s house and the parents were okay and not accused of child abuse for letting them be independent. When Will Byers (Schnapp) mysteriously disappears one night his friends set out to look for him and find an equally mysterious girl (Brown) close to where Will was last seen. What happens from there is a story of friendship that covers everything from bullying, homophobia, monsters, and a serious case of alternate reality that will make you think twice about your current universe.
  8. Tormenta de Passiones or Öyle Bir Geçer Zaman Ki (WAPA, Kanal D – Turkey; Starring: Ayca Bingol, Yildiz Cagri Aksoy, Aras Bulut Iynemli, Mete Horozoglu) – set from the 1960’s to the 1970’s – this series tells the true story of the Akarsu family, beginning with the events that were to change their family’s story in 1967: their father’s infidelity. The show is filled with riveting performances, two strong matriarchs and situations that are seems too unreal to be true – but isn’t that what life is filled with?
  9. Heartless (Netflix, Kanal 5 – Denmark; Starring: Sebastian Jessen, Julie Zangenberg, Nicolaj Kopernikus) I was intrigued by the description of this show “Two siblings with a deep dark and fatal secret. In order to survive they must suck the energy out of other people” – truth is, they are twins and they are a Succubae and Incubus set of twins who don’t know what they are, and go on a journey to find out why they need to feed off other people. The young actors portraying the (fraternal) twins have a great deal of chemistry and are amazing in each of their performances. The secrets are big and never obvious when they’re revealed, also – there’s tons of gruesome killings and cover ups. The interesting show is filled with magic, and how it can pragmatically work in the real world, tons of death, and tons of Danish sex – which I have to say has proven to be quite sexy from what I’ve seen on their shows…
  10. Queen of the South (USA Networks; Starring: Alice Braga, Veronica Falcón, Peter Gadiot) this much better version of La Reina del Sur follows the story of Teresa Mendoza (Braga) and her rise to power in the drug world. Reluctantly guided by the most badass, take no prisoners, no excuses, no-fucks-given-attitude-having Camila Vargas (Falcón) Teresa tries to do her best to stay alive, but her future self appears in the first episode and quickly guides her to doing much more. Camila is a character to be reckoned with – Falcón plays her with ease, poise and dangerous seduction that makes any person pee a little bit in their pants. She’s cunning and she likes to be underestimated because she will shut you down in two seconds flat. Each episode is full of moments that will make you tighten your grip, scream at the television and sometimes cover your eyes. Falcón, Braga and Justina Machado who plays the always hustling Brenda, shows women will do anything to not only come on top, but survive and protect their family and loved ones – even if it’s in the drug world.

25 Films that have inspired me (2nd Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of the films that have inspired me in some way or other to keep working, living, and strive to be myself – the list comprises of both new and old films and a brief explanation as to why they are so special to me.

  1. Eddie the Eagle (Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman) – Egerton does a fantastic job as the titular character, whose ambitions in becoming an Olympian since childhood are quite contagious and inspiring. Born with a disability, and poor eyesight, Eddie Edwards gets his ambition fueled by magazines, posters and television spots that showcase athletes competing – and from only one person in his life: his mum. Throughout the movie this Eddie has been stonewalled, ruled out, booted out and mocked for wanting to be the person he knows he should be – did all these negative situations stop him? No. He pushed forward and made history and broke records. More of us underdogs should be like Eddie the Eagle, soaring through the sky with our accomplishments even if everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is standing against us telling us we cannot become the person we know in our hearts we are meant to be.
  2. Hello, My name is Doris (Starring: Sally Field, Max Greenfield) – while the IMDb description of this film is “a self help seminar inspires sixty-something woman to romantically pursue her younger co-worker” Doris is much more than that. Field is the titular character and portrays her to perfection. After losing her mother (whom she spent all her life taking care of) Doris is struggling to find her footing in the world. While she becomes enamored by the younger, and very good looking new co-worker (Greenfield) she’s thrust into the dwellings of young people and how we manage to live our lives in “retro” and modernity, while trying to balance her old friendships and new ones. I smiled through the entire movie and laughed out loud through many other parts of it and cried at others. Anyone who is a caregiver of a parent, a young person who is trying to figure out who they are – or a human in general can relate to different aspects of this movie. It’s beautiful, it’s sweet, it’s daring and there’s an awesome sexy scene involving Field and Greenfield that everyone must see.
  3. Far from the Madding Crowd (Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen) – Mulligan stars in this period film as Bathsheba Everdene, the headstrong and very independent woman who inherits a huge piece of land that is home acres and acres of oak. The film is beautifully shot, the characters are well developed and engaging and there is an independent woman who has made a point of not marrying anyone for the sake of marriage or protection. At some point Everdene says “I have a house, I have land, I have no need for a husband” during the Victorian times that was a radical statement – something that many women feel today, and to see that in a period character (albeit a fictional one) is still inspiring. As the story goes on, we see who she really loves and who she ends up choosing as the perfect man for her and as a business partner.
  4. The Wave or Bølgen (Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro) – Set in the Norwegian Fjords, this movie is far from the Hollywood productions of what a natural disaster would look like if it came to happen. Still, the effects, the science and the people make it compelling and amazing to watch. Joner plays geologist Kristian Eikjord who figures out the mountain that houses hundreds of people is shifting and tries his best to warn others. Thinking it’s practically impossible for what he predicts will happen, will actually come to pass – they ignore him (typical) but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help them, and to save his family from the effects of the tsunami that will surely pass when the mountain collapses. The performances are great, the actors humanize these characters in a way that Hollywood could never do (i.e. San Andreas was flat with the character performances, 2012 fell short in that aspect as well) which is making strong and relatable characters that the audience can relate to in those circumstances. Not just the “OMG the world is going to end” and add tons of CGI to the film….
  5. Chasing Mavericks (Starring: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue) – as a person who cannot live too far from the ocean, this movie touched me in many ways. The story of Jay Moriarty and his ambition to ride the biggest waves – Mavericks – is moving, endearing, and inspiring. Weston’s portrayal of a young(er) Moriarty is clean, crisp and full of that naiveté that is needed in an actor that is playing a real life character that had that natural ambition and passion for life, for knowledge and especially surfing. Moriarty lived his life with a deep love of the ocean, for his family and for his girl. Although living in a one bedroom apartment off the coast of Santa Cruz, California – he went on to accomplish many things in his short life. A good example that nothing should stand in the way of you achieving your dreams.
  6. Brooklyn (Starring: Soairse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhall Gleeson) – Ronan stars in this period romantic drama as Eillis, a young Irish girl who reluctantly leaves her home town and family behind for a new life in Brooklyn, New York. Eillis’ experiences in New York reminded me of mine in great part. Only I didn’t have a boarding house, or a priest, or a job waiting for me when I moved to New York at 17, I related to her incredible homesickness and how hard it was to integrate into a place where there are so many people, and everything is so different. I have to make a note that Emory Cohen’s portrayal of Tony is absolutely adorable and made me fall in love with him.
  7. The Danish Girl (Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander) – What was it like for the first transgender woman? How did she know she was transgender? This film really shows the struggles of accomplished painter Einar Wegener into becoming Lili Elbe. The love he lost while becoming a she, the loved she gained by exploring her true herself. The love that endured between a marriage as time and one of them changed drastically. Eddie’s performance was so moving, I fell in love with both is Einar and Lili, the struggles in the eyes that only a great actor like he can convey and Alicia was amazing as well. As she interpreted the broken hearted, yet supportive Gerda it reminded me of many people I’ve known throughout my life. This film is about love, about self discovery and about friendship – all of the things that encompass what life is truly about.
  8. 200 Cartas (Starring: Lin Manuel Miranda, Jaime Camil, Dayanara Torres) – Miranda portrays Raul, a Young Newyorican who meets a Puerto Rican who is visiting NYC – he falls in love in that first and only meeting and sets off in an adventure to return to her a necklace she dropped in the club they met. Since he doesn’t have her number, he searches the phone book and ends up finding 200 women with her name (Maria Sanchez) so ends up sending each and every one of them a letter (hence the title of the film) what comes after is a crazy adventure and comedy that showcases the beauty and troubles in the island and the evolution of a man from being “smitten” by a beautiful girl he met once, to being actually in love with a woman who helps him in his journey.
  9. For Keeps? (Starring: Molly Ringwald, Randall Batinkoff) – let’s face it, if you’re over 25 years old, chances are that you’ve seen many a Molly Ringwald film while growing up. This film in particular was a departure of her previous work as the sweet girl next door. This was the first movie I saw that focused on a teenage mother and father. Both characters are struggling to make ends meet, struggling through post partum depression and struggling to evolve from young love to adult love. This was an incredible movie for me to see as a young person. The possibilities of unprotected sex, young parenting and everything that our sexual education (still) doesn’t cover.
  10. Sixteen Candles or 16 Candles (Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling) – John Hughes made some iconic films in the 1980’s, most of them staring Ringwald, and this has to be mentioned in my list. Why? Because for most of my life I felt like Ringwald’s Sam felt on her sixteenth birthday, forgotten for a larger event. Sixteen Candles is a crazy comedy that involves some crazy racists scenarios, but fun in many other aspects. It gives hope to the girls like me, who used to be mostly quiet and crushing on the popular guy. We can all get a guy like Jake to pick us up in his sports car with a birthday cake just for us.
  11. The Iron Giant (Animated – Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel) This animated film was different than anything I’d ever seen before. A war machine falls from the sky, suffers amnesia and befriends a local kid with a weird name (Hogarth). He’s entirely repurposed, basically saying “just because you were a bad person in your past, doesn’t mean you have to always be a bad person” Every time I watch this film I cry, and smile, and laugh out loud – it’s fun, it’s classic and inspiring.
  12. Wild (Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern) – Who doesn’t want to leave their current pain behind by going on a long ass hike? Or sailing across the ocean, or driving cross country? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to do any of these things at some point in their lives. I also, still haven’t met anyone who ACTUALLY has done it – so to see a film that is based on real events of a woman who hiked 1, 100 miles down the Pacific Coast Trail to get over losing her mother was inspiring. The cinematography is exquisite and the contrast of what she’s leaving behind to what she’s moving towards works perfectly. Made me want to start planning my own PCT hike (which I have, with an Amazon wish list and all).
  13. Pelo Malo (Samuel Lange Zambrano, Samantha Castillo, Beto Benites) – Zambrano plays Junior, a nine year old boy who is obsessed with straightening his thick curly hair, this obsession leads him conditioning his hair with mayonnaise and combing it excessively. His mother Marta (Castillo), thinks that all this obsession with his hair and dancing and singing might mean that he’s gay. As the film progresses, we see many inappropriate things happen, as well as painful things that many a young artist has experienced in their lives. This film has motivated me to not be as close minded as Marta, or imposing as Junior’s grandmother Carmen (brilliantly played by Nelly Ramos).
  14. Mermaids (Starring: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci) – As a child, I was very similar to Ricci’s character Kate Flax in this movie. Always wanting to be in the water, but never cleaning my rocks, or timing my ability to hold my breath in the bathtub (we never had a bathtub, I always left sea rocks where they belonged). Then there was the quirky Charlotte, who was obsessed with Catholicism (and later on Greek Mythology) and reminded me of the year of my life I wanted to be a nun. Then we had the sexy Mrs. Flax, single mother, secure in her own skin and a woman who gives no fucks. Like none…at all. After suffering a heartbreak she relocates herself and her girls to a small town in Massachusetts where so many things happen, when the family seems to break apart, it only gets stronger. I love this film because of all the elements I can relate to: family, obsession with swimming, religion, love (romantic and otherwise) and struggling family to find their own footing.
  15. Como agua para chocolate (Lumi Cavazos, Marco Leonardi, Regina Torné) – I didn’t know the connection of food and sexuality until I saw this film. I had read the book before I saw the film, and was pleased to see that many of the literary aspects were put, exactly as I imagined it, on film. The casting is great, and if anyone deserved a nomination or an award of their portrayal of an unwavering torturous bitch of a mother was Torné. Her Mamá Elena is like the worst mother ever. Denying her younger daughter love, marriage and children for the sake of tradition is unthinkable. The film itself is beautiful, the characters are lovely (Gertrude being my favorite) and the story itself, while tragic has its romanticism. Also, the dishes are really great looking and how the people react to them creates curiosity if it does actually happen in real life.
  16. One night with the King (Starring: Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, John Noble) – I’m not really crazy on biblical stories, but this movie has stayed with me since I first saw it. Hadassah (Dupont) has to hide her Jewish identity and customs in order to stay alive, changing her name to Esther (with the excuse that it doesn’t sound so Jewish – which is like very “lol” now) she becomes Esther Queen of Persia, and risks her life to save her people from genocide. Why do I like this film? When you look at the cinematography it would seem like a low budget film – but that never matters when there’s a strong story. A young girl thrust into a destiny she never imagined, she has to have faith to keep going – decide to be safe or to risk her own life for that of others. A King (Xerxes) historically known for his barbaric nature, to be seen in a vulnerable way, to be seen as a man, who is in love with a woman and doesn’t want to make her unhappy – changing his ways. The faith of something bigger than them, bigger than everything, most importantly bigger than the looming evil towards the Jewish people is nothing to be ignored.
  17. Austenland (Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge) – as a Jane Austen Fan I really wish this place actually existed! Austenland is filled with laughs, ridiculous performances and of course, romance. Jane Hayes (Russell) blows her savings to go on a trip to this fictitious theme park and live like Jane Austen’s character. Each travel package has a different character and romantic story to it so it’s great to see Austen’s entire characters take place in one setting, even if it’s absolutely ridiculous. My favorite scene is when Jane is prompted to play the piano – I snort-laughed at it and it’s such a great scene that there is an extended version of it in the final credits. Also Jane’s chemistry with Mr. Nobley (JJ Feild) is palpable. Just shows you that one can have a great time when you blow your savings on something deemed as insignificant to others.
  18. Maria full of Grace (Starring: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Orlando Tobón) – What are you willing to do for a better life? Many Central and Latin Americans resort to the actions of María Álvarez, smuggling drugs to the US and then staying in the mainland to better their lives and that of their children and families. This film was particularly moving, because it really showed the dark side of being a mule. The dehumanization of those who choose to swallow the drugs, and the troubles they have to deal with later on. Why did I like this film? María was head strong, determined to move forward with her life at any cost – even if she risked her own life while trying to make a better one.
  19. Contracorriente or Undertow (Starring: Cristian Mercado, Tatiana Astengo, Manolo Cardona) – This film is supposed to be about a gay man who is torn by his tradition. I truly believe it’s about a bisexual man who finds love in both sexes, but is pressured to be straight, when he loves a man deeper than what he loves his wife. Mercado plays Peruvian fisherman Miguel, a family man who meets outsider Santiago (Cardona) a photographer who settles in the beautiful coast and as their relationship progresses, their love blossoms. But then tragedy strikes and Santiago is ends up dead and haunting Miguel. What happens in this film is hauntingly beautiful. The love people have for one another should not be denied – for any reason, because it will haunt you some day.
  20. Goya’s Ghosts (Starring: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård) – while I would have preferred for the cast to be entirely Spaniard, I guess that’s never going to happen in a Hollywood production. Still, this film is good. Want to know about the Spanish Inquisition? This will give you a good idea. Want to see what happens when you’re devout to a religion that has imprisoned you, tortured you and kept you locked up for 15 years? Watch this movie. Want to know how a painter influenced the masses on what the Church was doing behind closed doors to the people? Watch this film.
  21. The Fundamentals of Caring (Starring: Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez) – Trevor (Roberts) is a paraplegic young man whose mother hires Ben (Rudd) to be his caregiver. Trevor likes to play mean jokes, he likes consistency and he’s incredibly sarcastic. A shell he’s been building ever since his father walked away from being responsible for him in his current state. What Trevor doesn’t expect is Ben, who picks up on his behavior and gives it back. The result is a great film where Rudd shines in his comedic and dramatic skills, and Roberts acting is pristine. I don’t comment so much of Gomez’ character since the film can do without her really, but I love this film. It’s heartwarming, and lets us know that friendship can be found in unexpected places.
  22. No se aceptan devoluciones or Instructions not included (Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Karla Souza, Jessica Lindsey) – I honestly didn’t think this film was going to be any good based on the trailer – which was really shoddy in my opinion. A womanizer has to turn his life around because he gets his daughter dumped on him. I mean, really? But one day I saw it on cable and fell in love with the deeper meaning of this film. A father who changes his life around to ensure his daughter has the best life she can, for as long as she can. It’s tragic, it’s sweet, it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming, and funny in some cases.
  23. Beasts of No Nation (Starring: Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Idris Elba) – I’ve always been against child soldiering. Every chance I get I watch a film that depicts the perils of young boys recruited and forced to be soldiers – losing their innocence, their childhood and subsequently the positivity of what life can be. This film was so jarring to see. Boys as young as eight years old carrying AK47’s and other high powered guns and rifles. Boys being forced to fight for a cause they can’t even comprehend entirely. Boys being violated in so many different ways. Boys not being able to be boys – innocent and free. Attah’s performance as Agu is memorable, he’s so good at depicting the pain and confusion, and Affadzi’s Dike is incredible at portraying pain, and anger. What impacted me most was Elba’s Commandant – his ruthlessness, his cruelty, and the ease as to which he does all the horrible things he does – still it didn’t kill Agu’s spirit and that to me was the most important thing of all.
  24. Superstar (Starring: Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell) – let’s face it; we all had that time during our childhood that we wanted to be superstars in some form. This endearing film about young Mary Katherine Gallagher (Shannon) and her desire to be a superstar dancer like her parents (who died while dancing to a crazy fast song) and her grandmother’s desire to protect her from the dangers of dancing hits home for creatives. While not as drastic, we have parents or parental figures who want to protect us from the possibility of the crippling failure and criticism. I mean, we don’t go around making out with trees, or smelling our fingers after they’ve been stuck in our sweaty armpits because that’s what we do when we’re really really nervous, but we all have our quirks, and this movie is just fun to watch and to see how Mary Katherine Gallager finds her perfect dance partner and becomes a S.U.P.E.R.S.T.A.R!
  25. Penelope (Starring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy) – I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for any movie that has either Ricci or McAvoy…but BOTH? It’s like movie heaven. This sweet movie is a romantic comedy about a family that is cursed – particularly the first born female child of that family after the curse, to have a pig snout for a nose and be so hideous and frightening not even her parents will love her – ironically, the way to break the spell is with the love of a person of noble blood. Penelope (Ricci) hides away from society by force, her parents, well, really it’s her mother – want to hide her from people until the spell is broken. Enter Johnny , who after a barrage of suitors presented is the only one who stays after Penelope reveals herself to them (most of them throwing themselves out windows and breaking down doors to escape her, which really I don’t know why, because Ricci, even with a pig snout is freaking adorable – also let’s make a note that he didn’t see her because he was busy doing something else) but they build a strong bond through conversations about music, books, and playing chess – which she does through a double sided mirror. In the end (spoiler alert) she breaks the spell herself because she finds herself loving who she is and what she looks like and McAvoy is just the most precious, sexy and passionate cherry on top of the cake.

Film Festivals and more!

After 5 years of production to finally be able to hit “render film” brought tears of joy and an incredible sense of accomplishment, completion and pride for my determination to complete Forced into Silence and have sent it off to festivals!

As of today, Forced into Silence has been submitted to 10 international film festivals!!!!  (festival locations are: UK, EU, US and Mexico as well as virtual/online screening) – Although it was “disqualified” for one of the fests, I’m still really excited about this and hope that it gets picked up for at least 2 festivals!!! Furthermore, I’ve written a 32 page screenplay that I’ve sent out to 2 screenplay/film fests! So that’s even more excitement! Even if the film gets picked up by just 1 of these festivals, I’m confident that it will help many people – men and women alike when it comes to victimization and learning how to deal with the aftermath. 

20160816_145727

With that said, I’m starting this another and even more ambitious project to further explore the topic, while setting up a platform for those who feel ready they can speak about their experiences with boys and young men. The project (a 13 episode docu-series) will feature interviews with men who have been victimized and have turned these traumatic events into a tool that can help others. Example of which, is the amazing James Landrith – rape survivor turned speaker, writer and overnight manager for RAINN.  Landrith was raped by a woman when he was a young 19 year old Marine – this event was traumatic and, as any traumatic event should, left a lasting impression on him (you can learn more about it in this Huffington Post video).  After 18 years of the event, he decided it was time to speak about his rape and let others know that this does and can happen to men – more importantly, that women are capable of rape as much as men are.

While this is a sensitive aspect of rape that many people still struggle with, and I fully understand why since women have been perceived for centuries as the “weaker sex”. Often portrayed as the victim, the defenseless person attacked by the mean man who wanted to violate her, take possession of her body and quite possibly kill her. Never, unless it’s in a Lifetime movie, is a woman seen in any other light. So speaking about men being abused, assaulted and/or raped by a woman has caused an incredible amount of backlash to me and my work. One thing I want to make clear is, I AM NOT BASHING MY OWN GENDER, I am being the feminist that is looking for equality – namely in the areas of the law that punishes perpetrators for their crimes and helps and protects victims.

With that said, my next project, Silent No More, has already begun filming!

The idea of this series is to further explore the issues presented in Forced into Silence and also serve as an outlet for victims, former victims, and their loved ones to seek help, solace and understand what’s happening.

Screenshot 2016-08-17 16.07.22Along with a great interview with James Landrith, the pilot episode will also feature a second interview with NYC tour-guide turned actor Bryant Mancebo, who appears in Forced into Silence. I wanted to bring him on the series to speak about his career, how being a survivor of partner abuse influences the choices he makes in roles and what he hopes he can do with his career as an actor to those men who are or have been abused by their partners and more. I believe this is a great choice for a pilot – once it’s completed it will be submitted to festivals for consideration and shopped around for producers, networks, financiers, etc.

For those of you who are wondering about it – I haven’t forgotten about my environmental projects! I’m working with a special group of people that are informing me on the best possible ways to film Beneath the Waves, location wise as well as another short documentary with some amazing people that are doing some incredible work. So, with all this, I have my work cut out for me.

I’ll keep you posted with the news about the festivals, and further project developments!

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!

20160712_190727.png
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.

Screenshot_20160713-125018
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

Screenshot_20160705-123029
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.

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.

d4e4ed1292cec016d782d27d83bb9418
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.

Screenshot 2016-02-09 12.43.06
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.

7c4d9a01e3f866a199ea2b1e0d533547
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.

Coral Swimming
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