NEITHER HERE NOR THERE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2022 Fantasy/Sci-Fi Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Growing up as a Hispanic-American in the Midwest, I found myself resenting my heritage in culture because of the bullying and racial tension within my community. It wasn’t until I was older in high school that I became proud of being born in Venezuela and embraced by culture. I wanted to make a movie that captured that resentment within myself and use a creative format such as fantasy to communicate that journey of self-forgiveness, awareness, and acceptance.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I came up with the idea for this short in October of 2020. From there we made an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the project. We filmed for one 12 hour day in June of 2021 and finished post-production in November 2021. So the whole process took around a year and a month to get it to where it is now.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Two words to describe this film? Uffffff… cathartic and reflective.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle when filming was definitely being a first-time producer with this kind of budget. When you are a writer and director, it’s easy to dream big and ignore production obstacles, but when you’re handling the funds it’s super stressful realizing how quickly money dissipates in the film industry. I also wanted to make this film right and pay everyone for their work, so putting in the effort to make sure that everyone received compensation and wasn’t doing it as a favor/for experience was really important to me. A way I handled the obstacles was reducing the story to its emotional barebones and making a script that we could shoot in 12 hours, basically one location, and with a small cast. Something that I am also proud of as a producer is of my team itself. I assembled a diverse crew and cast that were enthusiastic, talented, and professional in every way of the word and being able to tell a story that focuses on diversity, while having a diverse team behind the camera really added something to this production.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I really enjoyed watching the audience reaction to the film. This project was something that I really wanted to make in order to make other people from ostracized communities feel heard—especially during a time when diversity is becoming an important conversation. However, I didn’t want to make this a film only for the LatinX community and that is why I chose the fantasy and horror genre. Something I admire about Guillermo del Toro is that he uses Magical Realism to create narratives that are universal and connect with everyone on their own level and experiences. So to see people get it and like the story really means a lot to myself and everyone who believed in this project from the beginning.
Watch the Audience Feedback Video:
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I always knew that I wanted to make movies ever since I was a kid. I’m actually an actor first and that was always a dream that I had. When I moved to LA to study Screenwriting at Chapman University, I gained an admiration for storytelling and filmmaking that really pushed me to see what is creatively possible outside of acting. Making my own movies has also been crucial to my acting because it teaches understanding, professionalism, and diving deeper into a character.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I’ve definitely seen Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban the most out of any film in my life. However, my favorite film is Pan’s Labyrinth.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
From what I’ve seen, I think this festival does an excellent job on all fronts. I’m really proud and grateful to have been included in this line up and have had the pleasure of conversing with all of you and hearing your thoughts. Thank you for going above and beyond!
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
FilmFreeway is a very self-explanatory platform. I like the usability of the page and the thousands of cool events that it opens the possibilities for.
10. What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal?! That’s an excellent question, I’m gonna have to say Venezuelan Empanadas de Queso or Persian Koobideh Kabob. I can’t pick between the two.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m currently in NYC pursuing my career as an actor. Hopefully I hit 2022 swinging! However, I am currently in the final stages of post-production for a travel film titled “Finding Stillness” which I shot in Iceland with my creative partner (and awesome girlfriend), Tania Ghaffari (who was also a producer and production designer for Ni Aquí Ni Allá) over the holidays.