MFA, Film & Television Production '18
What is Acción Latina and what is your role in the organization?
Acción Latina is a student organization that looks to celebrate and produce Latino Cinema at SCA around the world. Acción Latina aims to provide a networking platform for SCA students once they graduate and help navigate through the entertainment industry. We are a family and a support system. Everyone is welcome to join! I am the cofounder and president of the organization. Last year I met another Mexican student here at SCA, her name is Andrea Porras, and we started discussing this idea for months. Now, it is an official group and we are very excited for the events we have ahead.
What kinds of activities does your organization sponsor or support?
We are currently planning our next and biggest event of the semester, which will be a Q&A Panel with emerging Latino Filmmakers. It will be an opportunity to learn from people who are already in the entertainment industry. Students will be able to ask them questions, make contacts, and get to know their story, which can encourage students to be proactive. Also, Acción Latina will be having networking events and mixers with other organization during the semester. We want to give our members the opportunity to meet other diverse people at SCA. We want to help students develop networking skills and learn how to present and pitch their projects. We have amazing resources at SCA and we are in contact with the office of internships and mentorships in order to support each other and create opportunities. Finally, we plan to sponsor and organize multiple screenings and cultural events at SCA. Celebrating Latino culture is an important aspect of our group; and we want people to feel proud of their culture and what fellow Latinos are doing.
What are you, personally, studying and how has being involved with Acción Latina, enhanced your studies?
I’m a junior in the B.F.A Film and Television Production program. A significant part of being a production student is learning how to execute your ideas and manage your time. I think Acción Latina has pushed me to develop those organizational and time management skills by working and learning from other members. Also, film is all about collaboration and being a good team member. Thanks to Acción Latina my network has grown and I have met remarkable people that I know I want to collaborate with now and in the future. Finally, as filmmakers, we have the power to persuade and speak so Acción Latina has helped to give direction to my voice as an artist to produce positive change in my community.
What advice do you have for prospective students looking at applying to your program?
Be yourself and show the type of work that reflects your passion. I have learned that the best movies are those that have provocative and emotional content. Good storytelling is defined by passion, so if you focus on things you feel passionate about then you’ll do well and people will notice. My second piece of advice would be not to worry about having a lot of technical experience. You are not expected to know everything when you are applying to college; you go to school to learn.
How has the School of Cinematic Arts prepared you, so far, for a career in your discipline?
I have learned so much from the experience of being on set. The film production program is hands-on and once you are a junior you are on set nearly every weekend. So I’ve had to learn how to deal with problems on the spot. Obstacles are a part of life, so we have to learn to stand up and deal with them. Film production has taught me to be proactive and resourceful; and has pushed me to meet wonderful people. I’m currently taking the directing practicum and we have learned the importance of setting the mood on a set. As a director, everyone looks up to you, so it’s important to stay calm and know how to talk to the crew and actors. Finally, I’m taking a fabulous class about Latin American Cinema. I have learned so much about my culture and transnational filmmaking, which is the cinema I want to pursue.
What have been the biggest challenges for you at USC?
Assimilating to a different culture and then learning to be more confident in my work and myself. My freshman year I was incredibly shy and scared of people at SCA because they were so talented. I used to feel I wasn’t good enough for them so I decided not to speak or ask questions in fear of sounding stupid. Fortunately, I grew up and realized meeting people that have more experience than you an amazing opportunity to learn and absorb from them. Being friendly opens doors and first impressions are important in this industry. So being confident is a must. I had to learn making mistakes is not bad because you learn from them! It was a hard start but I’m grateful because being a student is the best moment to grow up and make mistakes. What helped me overcome these challenges was joining student groups and organizations. Besides Acción Latina, I’m also a member of DKA, the professional cinema fraternity. I recommend putting yourself out there and trying new things. Joining an organization is the best way to make friends and to find people with similar interests. Los Angeles and USC can seem big and scary at first, but you´ll find a community and family here.
What in your past has given you inspiration or a unique point of view that you bring to USC?
I grew up in a beautiful city, called Monterrey, Mexico. I think my culture gave me lenses to see the world from a unique point of view and showed me the importance of hard work and creativity. For me, experience is the heart of storytelling so growing up in such a rich culture has benefited me in a sense that I now have so many stories and things to write about. Traveling around Mexico, I met diverse people that inspired me to be better and I want to translate that into my projects here at USC. Filmmaking is a powerful medium to create awareness and promote positive change. This is the reason we started Acción Latina and it has helped me work toward these goals.
What personal projects have you worked on and/or are currently working on either with Acción Latina, or on your own?
The biggest project I’m working on is nurturing it and growing Accion Latina. The current project I’m working on with Accion Latina is Q&A Latino Panel. Another personal project I worked on last semester was my junior thesis, a short film set in 1970s Mexico. The story was about Ximena, a 10-year-old girl, who decides to construct a plane to send her terminally ill sister to a better place. This was a very hard story to pull off due to the production design, the plane, and Spanish language barrier. I’m so happy with the outcome of the project and I’m currently submitting it to film festivals.
Finally, I’m developing a web series about childhood memories. As a psychology minor, I want to explore the human mind and incorporate my learning to film as much as possible. This idea is currently in development and I plan to film the first episode this coming summer!