Monday, September 8, 2014

An Electric Night with Mexican and Latino Filmmakers

            Hello everyone, I hope you all had a great weekend and had some time to read my previous blogpost. I’m writing to share that I had the opportunity to attend the opening night gala of the Guadalajara International Film Festival in Los Angeles at the Egyptian Theatre on Friday. The festival showcases a compilation of the best films screened at the Guadalajara festival over the summer.

            The night kicked off with an introduction to the festival and the contributions it has made for cineastes in Mexico and Latin America. There were also awards presented in different categories to some of the top films showcased in Gudalajara this summer. Then, the “Arbol de la Vida” awards were presented to Emmy-winning reporters Ruben Luengas and Gabriela Teissier, and Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir (A Better Life, The Bridge). The award, which literally translates to “Tree of Life,” is presented to people in the industry who have made significant contributions in their fields.

            Following the awards, the film Las Horas Contigo (The Hours With You) was screened. This feel-good dramedy is about family, growing up, and forgiveness. Presented by La Banda Films, it is produced by Roberto Sneider (Frida, Arráncame La Vida) and serves as Catalina Aguilar Mastretta’s directorial debut. I was lucky enough to meet Sneider and interact with him briefly; unfortunately for us, there was an amazing live group performing some salsa and merengue with the volume a little too high, so it was a challenging to engage in conversation. Regardless, it was great meeting people with my friends Marco Molina from Veva Entertainment and Isabel Echeverry from Olmos Kontakto.

            It made me so happy to be part of such an electric night with Mexican and Latino filmmakers and fans. It’s comforting to know there’s such a great community of artists that are hungry to tell new and compelling stories. I feel lucky to have expanded my network and I look forward to keeping in touch and potentially collaborating with some of the people I met. In the meantime, make sure you check out Las Horas Contigo if it’s playing in your city, you’ll be in for a treat.

Demian Bichir accepts his "Arbol de la Vida"

Friday, September 5, 2014

Write About Things You Know

            Hello everyone, please forgive my hiatus from this blog! It was a busy summer shooting a new sitcom and I just started working in a new Reality show, both of which I’ll write about in the near future.
Last night was definitely one for the books. I got to attend “The Writer’s Room” at the DBA Hollywood. Moderated by Reza Aslan, the discussion panel featured one of my idols, Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black (Milk, J. Edgar), and Academy Award nominee Craig Borten (Dallas Buyers Club).

            The evening started off with a glass of wine and some house music, followed by a stand-up act by a funny man whose name I can’t remember. Anyway, the main event commenced with Mr. Aslan introducing the gentlemen.

            So many things were covered. From screenwriting methods, getting started in the industry, issues that ranged from lgbt rights to religion, and pressure to keep momentum after working on Academy Award winning films.

            “The most important thing about the story is not an event or a place, it’s a person,” said Dustin Lance Black. He stated that stories are compelling not because they revolve around events, but because they happen to a person. “The king of note cards,” as Mr. Aslan called him, said that even though his stories are based on true events, they are tweaked in a way to provoke the present and spark a bomb that will help change things for the future. For example, he thinks documentaries are interesting because they are informative, but his goal when writing a movie based on true events is to make it applicable to current events so that it can inspire action by people. Something else that Dustin said that really stuck with me was, "Write about things you know."

            It truly was an inspirational night. I’ve been a huge fan of Dustin Lance Black’s work since 2008 and getting to sit in the front row and listen to him speak was definitely a highlight of this year. I also had an opportunity to ask him a question during the Q&A at the end of the discussion panel. I asked, “What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in your career that you don’t regret because you learned from it?” He thought it was a difficult question and it took him a while to think about it, but he gave me good advice. Black thinks it’s important to place your projects in good hands and to be on top of everyone and everything. He recalled an earlier project that didn’t come to fruition the way he expected because he let others take too much control of it. Borten also added that it is much better to let producers make creative decisions instead of actors. Now, go write something that moves you!

Olympic Diver Tom Daley