Last week NALIP announced the short films that will be screened at this year’s Latino Lens Festival and Showcase on October 30th at the Avalon Hollywood. This week we bring you a closer look into the minds of directors, Lizette Barrera 'MOSCA', Esteban Arango 'BLAST BEAT' and Jorge “Jokes” Yanes 'TOYED', in an exclusive interview. We asked these content creators about their short films and the obstacles attached to being a short film director, the importance of organizations like NALIP and what the future holds.
NALIP: What did you hope to accomplish with this short? Why this movie? Why now?
Lizette Barrera (LB): “In MOSCA, I try to tell a complex and nonjudgmental story of Kari, who is a teenager trying to figure out her sexuality...What’s important about MOSCA is that is blends the usage of (mainly) English and Spanish. It depicts acculturated [email protected] in Texas. The film crew also consisted a majority of people of color and LGBT individuals. So why this movie? Not only is it personal for me, but as to everyone who worked on the film. MOSCA is a way for us to identify with others stuck in ‘The Borderlands’ and give ourselves a way to make our voices heard.”
Esteban Arango (EA): “With BLAST BEAT I wanted to capture the feelings of a generation that I haven’t seen on screen in an entertaining, hollywood-style narrative. The feelings of a generation of immigrants who stand on a blurry line of identity as Americans and Latinos.”
Jorge “Jokes” Yanes (JY): “It became my mission to bring it [TOYED] to the screen when one day, when I was moving from one home to another, I found the original story tucked in an old binder. From that point on my writing partner J.Bishop and I have been relentless to bring this story about a group of underdog kid artists fighting to be recognized, while being lumped in with the gang culture of the early 90’s.”
Lizette Barrera director of 'MOSCA'
NALIP: What are some challenges you’ve faced?
LB: “Being a Latina and – young – woman, I’ve always had to push harder for people to believe in my work, especially when my work deals with Latinx families and don’t carry the ‘stereotypical’ facade.”
EA: “I uprooted my whole life in Miami to relocate to LA last year in pursuit of my dream of making films. I knew it had to start with my short BLAST BEAT. We faced so many challenges to get that production together, all while adapting to a new environment in a new city. It was humbling from the beginning, doing the Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds, getting the attention of our actors to come and join our project, and shooting in LA, which can get so expensive, fast!”
JY: “I grew up in a turbulent time when nobody I knew ever made it out my neighborhood. It took a lot of will and some really great influences to break out of that mold. But specifically for the film the biggest obstacles we faced were finding locations that still had that 90’s feel, and casting the great kid actors with a very limited amount of time. Besides that we faced the mountain of obstacles that comes with every production and made it to the other side with something we are proud of.”
Esteban Arango director of 'BLAST BEAT'
NALIP: What are some of the challenges shorts filmmakers face these days in general?
LB: “Noticeability. Accessibility has gotten easier for short filmmakers, but finding distribution deals, credibility, and/or financing is tough.”
EA: “As a diverse filmmaker I feel lucky to be working during a time where finally the space has opened up for our stories. With that opportunity comes the challenge of creating work that is compelling, fresh, and that keeps pushing the boundaries of what is possible in filmmaking. If filmmakers are able to do this today, then more opportunities will come up.”
JY: “I think shorts are challenging because it is rarely a commercial endeavor so it requires a gathering of like-minded individuals to pool their limited resources and create. Although I do believe it is an incredible time to be a filmmaker. Today, you can make shorts that can actually capture an audience outside of just festivals. So testing the waters with a story and characters is easier than ever, but the financing is going to be skin in the game.”
Jorge "Jokes" Yanes director of 'TOYED'
NALIP: Why do you think organizations like NALIP are important?
LB: “Organizations like NALIP are extremely imperative for Latinx filmmakers to get their voices heard and get their work shown. We need these hubs to have as a support system, build alliances with one another, and become a familia, especially when we live in a world that generally doesn’t support voices from people of color.”
EA: “Organizations like NALIP are instrumental, I would say essential, for the industry because they safeguard upcoming talent and give them valuable exposure. But also because they unite a community of like-minded creators to keep pushing our message out as Latinos at the forefront of the new wave of multicultural cinema.”
JY: “They are important because they highlight voices that need to be shared and as Latinos in America we have an important voice. People should have access to them. NALIP is one of the few organizations that is listening and going to bat for us Latino’s, and every year it’s track record speaks for itself.”
NALIP: Where do you see yourself in five years?
LB: “I see myself having made my first feature, MOSCA. I would like to be working in the Casting Department to help change the game plan as well as making documentaries that urge for justice/reflection to individuals. I also hope to be a lecturer at a university to help minorities in film.”
EA: “I’d like to be creatively active, directing films and television. On a personal level, I could see myself as a dad… But I don’t know, that’s a scary thought right now.”
JY: “In five years I hope to be consistently delivering new and unique creative content filled with integrity on various platforms, from series to theatrical features, and raising a family as well as being a positive force in my community.”
Join us for a chance to meet and hear more from these short film directors, and other creators, at the Latino Lens Festival and Showcase on Oct. 30th at the Avalon Hollywood.