I am pleased to introduce the next filmmaker of the month and one of the selected filmmakers for the Nespresso Talents 2018 USA contest, Sofia Garza-Barba.
Firstly, many thanks for taking your time to do this interview.
What projects have you been doing as a filmmaker?
I have been directing and producing music videos and commercials for a few years now. Some of the clients I’ve worked for are Pocky, Indio Beer, Shari’s Berries, Coppel, Peter Piper Pizza and others. Lately I’ve been trying to direct more narrative and been doing short films as well. You can check out my work here: www.espinablanca.com or www.sofiagarzabarba.com
When, and why, did you decide to become a filmmaker?
I was born and raised in Mexico. I had no idea that a career in filmmaking even existed. I’ve always been a music video and movie junkie. I spent most of my weekends watching MTV and movies and directing plays with my neighbors. Since my father was a journalist, everyone (myself included) thought that I might end up doing the same simply because this was what people expected. Surprise to everyone, I had no interest whatsoever in journalism. The thought of it gave me stomach aches. It was at school when I met a Canadian computer teacher, that I realized what I wanted to do with my life. His name was Mark Alessio. He transformed the computer lab in to some sort of film class. He called it the YES LAB. This is where I learned how to edit, shoot video and tell stories. Like a total geek, I spent my lunch break in this lab. Editing and learning how to do some camera tricks. I found my passion. Years of watching movies and music videos, now I had the tools to create stuff myself. This was the perfect way to express myself and tell stories or dreams. Soon enough, Alessio suggested I try to get in to film school and motivated me to pursue my dream and do my thing. I will never forget him. He was a teacher, mentor and friend to me. He died a few years ago but got to see the beginning of my professional journey.
Regarding your filmmaker journey, what stage do you think you are at now?
I never stop learning. It’s always a journey and sometimes the path I’m following leads me to a different goal or direction. As of now, I’m still focusing on directing commercials, but also trying to explore TV and Film a bit more. I am interested in directing features and TV Series.
My film is about the strong lineage of women in my family. How they’ve taught me to be a good-hearted human, and the importance of teaching new generations (in this case, my daughter) to be the same. People think that in order to make a difference in this world, you need to do something big. Make a change in a group of people, or a town. Making a difference in this world can be done one person at a time. If you can do that, then you’re making a difference. Society tends to forget the importance of motherhood. My mother was my first teacher, and if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be who I am. This film focuses on the important role of a mother, and how one person’s actions and good deeds can be passed on to future generations.
My daughter inspired me to do this film. I’ve been wanting to do films with her, just because it’s a nice way to bond, have fun, and at the same time do something that can be kept as a memory. I consider myself a workaholic because I’ve always been so focused on my job, but as soon as I became a mother, everything changed, and all my life was turned upside down (in a good way). I can still be passionate about my work and my job as a filmmaker, but my biggest and most treasured job of all is to teach my daughter to be a good human.
Did you expect this result after the final announcement by the jury? What were your first impressions?
I did not expect this. I mean, all I wanted to do is tell a story that people could relate to. I wanted to share my story but make everyone else think of the women in their family.
When I heard I was a finalist, I couldn’t stop smiling. I was very happy and totally did not expect this. I’ve seen some other people’s work, and it was an honour to be in the 3 US Finalists.
Regarding the contest “The difference she makes” what is your opinion about women in the world of the filmmaking? What is it like to be a female film director?
I believe there are a lot of talented female directors out there wanting to express themselves but haven’t been heard or they find it hard to make it happen. For me, to be a female director, Mexican-American, and a mom is tough. Minority in so many aspects! I have definitely run in to some challenges, but I believe that keeping your head up high, thinking positive and doing your thing will come with a reward at the end. You just need to meet the right people, at the right time, and not give up. The right people will see your talent, and once they do, more doors will open. There are more opportunities for us now a days, and we should take advantage of that.
How was the experience shooting in 9:16?
Shooting 9:16 was a challenge simply because I’ve only done it once before. Once I got the hang of it, it was easy. Shooting 9:16 just makes you think carefully of what you want the viewer to see or focus on. In my experience, even though it was challenging to force my eye to see less than what I’m used to, it forced me to focus on my subject and the important message I wanted to express.
What do you think about this new video format?
I feel that it’s a perfect way to make the viewer focus on what’s important. Now a days that people watch a lot of videos on their phones, this format is ideal for that.
Did you have the opportunity to view any other video from the Nespresso contest? Could you tell us which short film you liked the most?
I got to see a lot of the Nespresso short films and they were all beautiful! It’s an honour to be surrounded by so many amazing films and it’s hard to choose my favourite! One of my favourites was the International winner “Wings”. I thought that this was such a moving and powerful story visually. You could watch it with no sound, and you would still understand what was going on in the film. Very clever and unique way of using 9:16. Beautiful!
What’s your opinion about Userfarm? And how did you find us?
I used to do a lot of work for Poptent back when it was up and running and loved the types of jobs and projects. After Poptent closed, I looked for something similar or even better, and that’s when I found Userfarm. I’ve had great experiences with Userfarm and can’t wait to do more projects with them.
Definitely! I recommend it to any filmmaker! Starting or already established.
By: Jesús Ovejero