screenwriter to watch
A director writing her first feature script inspired by the award-winning short film, ‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun), that she directed & co-wrote.
How did you break in?
I was so fortunate to learn the fundamentals of screenwriting in a film class taught by the amazing Kat Candler. She inspired me to write my first screenplay, ‘Birthday Wishes’. Kat’s class ignited my passion for storytelling and helped prepare me for my three year filmmaking journey at The London Film School.
Director/Co-Writer/Co-Producer – ‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun), Editor – ‘An Uncertain Future’
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
First and foremost, never give up! Furthermore, a producer gave me a great piece of advice. He asked me, ‘What is one word that encapsulates the essence of your story?’ He told me that when he reads scripts he tries to find one keyword that summarizes the story and advised me to do the same when pitching to producers because it will root the pitch and help steer the development phase. His advice has been incredibly helpful because that keyword is ultimately the heart of the story and when I stray away, I have that keyword to inspire and anchor me.
What has been your hardest scene to write?
A scene between two young girls dealing with the trauma and abuse that migrant children (unaccompanied minors) often experience when crossing the US-Mexico border. The research phase of ‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun) was incredibly heartbreaking and challenging. I knew that I had to allow myself to feel all the heartbreak and ended up channeling the emotions into the script because I wanted to honor the personal stories and experiences that people shared with me. So, I allowed the heartbreak, the horror of the notion that anyone would ever hurt a child, and the care for these children to fuel my writing. The scene ended up taking place at a tender crossroads in the story where two young survivors of abuse reveal their emotional and physical wounds and begin to heal through friendship.
What do you feel was your turning point?
Winning the Hiscox Jury and Audience awards for ‘Best Student Narrative Film’ at the 2017 Austin Film Festival. A lot of doors have opened as a result.
What are you working on right now?
A feature inspired by ‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun), the latest short film I directed about a traumatized 12-year-old girl at an immigrant children’s shelter who learns to express herself through the power of art.
What are your favorite movies?
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Tree of Life, Whale Rider, How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, Contact, Do The Right Thing, Mudbound, Babel, Groundhog Day, The Abyss, In America, Before Sunrise
Who are your favorite screenwriters?
Ava DuVernay, Dee Rees, James V. Hart, Melissa Mathison
What is your most Memorable AFF Moment?
Watching the phenomenal leading actress, Karen Garcia Cruz, of ‘Hacia el Sol’ (Towards the Sun) get all the praise she deserves after a sold out Texas premiere. The whole cast and crew were fantastic, and it made me happy to see audiences connecting with the film. Thank you, AFF!