One of my Bosses once told me that, while we love to make movies, “commercials are our bread and butter.” At the time I thought well that sucks, but then within a week I realized what those words truly meant. I’ve been producing TV commercials for over 20 years now both in English and Spanish. I’ve been lucky to work with some of the top production companies and acclaimed directors producing for Fortune 500 brands. What I love about making commercials is that there is always a beginning and end and a timeframe that must be kept, everyone gets paid well and it doesn’t take up a whole year of your life to do one spot. Working in the US Hispanic Market taught me a lot and especially how to budget, so I can work with tight and challenging budgets and timetables but still deliver on time and under budget.
Film is my passion, it’s sort of a love and hate relationship. You are creating a reality that already exists and making it into a movie which is always a monumental task, and does become a marriage since you normally are in pre-production for a very long time. Funding is complicated and you have to be willing to constantly fight to get a greenlight. However, once you are on set and your crew actually shows-up and the actors are all in a good mood and crafty is keeping the Teamsters happy, its like magic it’s the best adrenaline rush ever, you just need to really know what you want when you direct and produce a feature, if not it can quickly turn into a nightmare.
Film is in itself a universal language, you do not need to be a multi-linguist to admire and understand films in foreign languages and about diverse subject matters. The main reason I decided I wanted to make movies was because of the powerful educational aspect behind documentaries. I realized that with the right message you can create a huge and significant impact on a global level. I’ve always admired Errol Morris and Barbara Kopple as Directors but mainly I respect them as Documentary Filmmakers. I find Micheal Moore’s style to be amusing and in-your-face which is why I believe he has been responsible for putting docs back on the map in this past decade at least.
PSAs are what I personally call, Passion Projects done with Selfless Sacrifice to Achieve Awareness purpose/goal. None of this Public Service Announcement stuff, really it’s a labor of love and if you really just want to do one to win an Award or a Palm D’Or at Cannes then don’t bother because those kind of awards don’t impress the actual brand buying the media buy too much. You heart has to be in the right place when you shoot a PSA and it’s a very humbling experience to most Commercial TV director when shooting one for the first time. The important thing to remember about PSAs, just like documentaries is that they should not just raise awareness to an issue or a situation or conflict, but mainly inspire people to act upon doing something meaningful for the cause or non profit organization on which ever way possible for them.
Well, as you can see, I don’t like writing….NOT! An Economics Professor of mine once said that she knew a classmate tried to plagiarize a paragraph out of a conference paper I wrote, because I write just like I speak, and that I believe is true to most people I know. If you enjoy talking and telling stories, chances are you will eventually write them down.
I didn’t set out my career thinking I was going to become a Writer especially since my father is one, I just started writing one day. James Schamus once told me, “Look if the material is good, the movie will do well, no matter what, it’s all about the material and it all has to start with writing it down first,” and he was and still is absolutely right.
I find writing can be therapeutic, but mainly it’s a great way to express yourself in any number of languages and share with the world your thoughts and beliefs. During my career I’ve found myself doing script evaluation, that later on helped me develop my form as a screenwriter, and given the opportunity to write Director’s treatments for directors who at the time were too busy or simply did not want to be bothered to do them I had fun writing them for them even when I just got paid the same salary at which ever prod company at the time. With my writing partner I’ve created and concepted several reality TV shows as well as first couple of episodes, this kind of brainstorming was always very entertaining. I’ve written several feature lengths scripts both in English and Spanish as well as short films. I even provided Director George Sluizer with some ideas for the script “The Chosen One” that he later incorporated into the movie.
In 1994 after I completed the Future Filmmakers’ Workshop I was asked to participate in the Short Screenplay Workshop by Christine Choi at Tisch School of the Arts and I thoroughly enjoyed (jaja) having my script torn apart and the material trashed, I was devastated cause I thought I had written a story of substance (lol) when in fact I was just a Senior in High School who had been proclaimed Queen of the Prom and hadn’t really lived much to tell an honest story. Writing for me will always be a process and it is rare that I’m ever happy with where I left off, as I’m constantly looking for ways to improve the dialogue or tighten the scene, the last thing you want is an actor volunteering to write it, so you better come prepared, open to their ideas and suggestions, but know your material well- live it- own it!
Back in the day Print had great budgets, but since digital took over it’s not always the best possible budget for amount of work required. I was fortunate to have had the days of generous budgeting for Print, I’ve worked with some very talented Photographers and realize that the digital era keeps taking time away from doing other important things because you must be on top of all the new technology coming out every day.
I enjoyed doing the Print work for Toshiba it can be distressing when there is no Project Manager involved which is where my skills come in handy.
For me photography is capturing a moment in time that you will never relive unless you view it in the form of a photograph. What I love about photography is the spontaneity of the medium, you can just freeze a frame of your life and depict so many things going on around what you set out to portray. I took my first photography class when I was about 14 and I remember my Teacher telling me that I needed glasses because all my pictures were soft! Lol
My paintings and drawings are the most direct way of expressing myself without having to deal with too many external factors or equipment. I find painting therapeutic and relaxing, but it also conveys powerful emotion. I prefer finger painting, but I’ve recently taken to water-color that was always a challenge for me as a kid, of course acrylic is one of my favorites and oil paint even though I cannot stand the smell.