Juan Martinez Vera became a NALIP member four years ago. At first, he thought NALIP was just a conference that happened once a year, but once he joined he realized it was much more – it is about constant collaboration.
As a writer and director, Martinez Vera focuses on feature films, short films and commercials. His short “Spark” was part of NALIP’s Official Selection and was screened at last year’s Media Summit. The short is about a teen who uses social media to look for his father who disappeared during a student protest in Venezuela. His inspiration came out of frustration with what was happening in the world around him.
“For me, storytelling is all about understanding the world around us and understanding ourselves,” Martinez Vera says. “If you don’t have everyone’s voice represented, you don’t really see everything around you. The gift of diversity is you get to see and experience someone else’s story.”
“The hardest thing is always finding the right people to work with, and once you find the right people, everything else falls into place,” he says. “Once you have two creative energies collide, it just explodes. That’s what happened with Diego Najera.” His hopes for Latinos in the media landscape is for them not just to be a small part of the industry, but rather a part of the industry as a whole. Instead of hearing about “a Latino film,” he hopes people will see projects as “a film with Latinos.” He thinks people can fight for diversity, but if at the end of the day Latinos are stuck in a category, it does not feel complete. In the future, he would like the industry’s main focus to be on the story and goal of a project and not about where one comes from.