Miami…a city that inspires art, debauchery, rice and beans and flights of fancy.
It is also home to burgeoning filmmakers who want to tell the stories that live just beneath the surface of this thriving tropical metropolis.
Young filmmakers like 23-year-old Vanessa Castillo.
But Castillo wasn’t always a filmmaker. Her journey began six years ago as a photographer.
“I started off my visual journeys six years ago as a photographer, a legit light drawer (that’s the Greek definition for photography). I like to think out my shots before I shoot them. This is how I started to like film. After I messed around with it a little, it was like, “my photo” had more time to live…show itself, move around” Castillo said.
We spent the afternoon with Vanessa for our shoot and we got to see her show herself and move around, too. We took her to some abandoned buildings off of Krome Avenue around dusk and although we were dealing with water-logged and mosquito-infested conditions, Vanessa’s personality unfolded. We quickly saw her charm and quick-wit. We got to see her eye for detail and her inquisitive nature.
We got to see Vanessa Castillo, filmmaker…and we were impressed.
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Check out her interview below and let her impress you, too.
V.C.: I’m a Documentary Filmmaker, so a lot of my inspiration comes from real life situations, ie: conversing, commuting from A to B, etc… I find inspiration from within too, for example, when I watch an old piece of mine, it inspires new ideas or concepts, or it will strike some inspiration to want to work on something new, even if the idea isn’t there yet. It’s funny because people often think for a filmmaker, of any kind, they’re inspiration is drawn from other films. While that is true, of course other films inspire me, I’m more so inspired by the brainstorm of creating a unique film. What’s fun for me is the creation aspect of it all, and in documentary filmmaking the creativity is so spontaneous. You’ll plan for one thing and as you’re filming, something else might happen that’ll spark motivation for something completely different. I mean, that’s just me, I’m a weirdo…and it’s hard to explain.
V.C.: Ah, the infamous question. This is the same issue I have when people ask me who are my favorite music artists. I honestly can’t say I have “favorites” because there is just so much out there…but I can name a few films (some are documentaries, of course) that I highly favor. Hoop Dreams, Thelma and Louise, When We Were Kings, Pulp Fiction, The Thin Blue Line, Capturing the Freidmans, Gone With the Wind, Spellbound…I feel like I can keep going and going and going, which is why I can’t choose favorites. I’ll stop there, just to name a few…
V.C.: I think it’s slowly progressing. To me the film scene in Miami seems small. I don’t know of any locals working on films, short or long. My videographer friend told me about a guy, Fro Rojas, who has been doing well for some time now in filmmaking and commercial directing. I hadn’t heard about him before my friend told me. So other than that, I think Miami needs a new wave of talent in filmmaking to really put this city on the map. I mean, we already host many film festivals here, and many television shows are shot down here, too, so I believe Miami will soon enough start to see various electrifying young filmmakers pop up in the near future.
V.C.: “…I’d have to say my favorite one has been JUST ANOTHER SENSE. It is based on how the blind or visually impaired, talents aren’t constrained. They still find happiness through the arts and find themselves to be more talented than they themselves even knew, they never imagined to be capable of creating art. I worked on this short documentary with a classmate, but I can only speak for myself, when I say, I connected with this specific project in weird ways. From the filming of it, to the editing process, and mainly my bond with these individuals. They were obviously never able to see me; but they felt my energies and felt so comfortable with me; I could sense it. The way they would smile at me, things they said…I learned a lot in those few weeks of documenting, I wanted to show people exactly what I was seeing and just how remarkable these characters are. I say character because I think everyone is a character. I wanted to demonstrate through this doc, that life isn’t so bad when we really analyze it. I hear people complaining about things that are out of our control, but what some don’t understand is that, it goes how it is supposed to; it might just not go how we want it to. We can’t control the universe; we’re the water, not the rock. I feel that these blind folks understand this well. Yes, they are BLIND,but they see it as only missing one sense. So they go to the “Miami Lighthouse for the Blind” to mingle with others, get creative, stay active and find peace with their situations. Not to mention, how talented they are and start to gain confidence from it. This project was amazing to work on. I learned so much. It still impacts me today and moves me deeply. I plan on going back; the arts and crafts instructor said she would blind fold me and let me have a little taste on how these individuals live.
V.C.: This is a great question. I’d have to say one of my favorite things about my city is the variety of culture. I love meeting people and the fact that I am constantly interacting with the community, and almost everyone is of different ethnicities is an amazing advantage and makes for great experiences. It’s a good reminder that we’re all different but we’re all the same. The more I converse with different people the more that is realized. Scenically, my favorite thing about Miami is definitely our skies, trees and the water. I’m a nature kind of girl, although I don’t like bugs bugging me, I still tolerate them because I love getting lost in an adventure where I am one with nature. Again, I’m a weirdo. Our skies are beautiful though, from our clouds to our sunsets. Trees, not every city is blessed with trees and well the water, that’s something therapeutic for me. I feel fortunate to have it near by.
V.C.: I want to do a documentary piece in Little Havana. I feel that there’s so much culture there, it’s a character in itself. Let me not even get started with the people from Little Havana, it’s an amazing spot. I love parking my car in one avenue and just walking down and up the avenues. There are so many characters, in the people, buildings, streets, the art…its amazing. I love it.
V.C.: Oh man, that shoot. First off, let me start by saying that’s the first time I’ve ever REALLY been IN FRONT of the lens. I’m the documentarian here. I felt quite strange at first but it was an amazing experience. They made me feel so comfortable, it just felt and made everything feel so natural. I had a blast that day. I met them (Harold and Goobs) that day, yet it felt like I already knew them.
Photos by Harold D.Ruiz