What first inspired you to pursue a career in filmmaking,
and how did you get your start in the industry?
From the moment I received my first Laserdisc player and a subscription to Colombia House's Laserdisc catalog at the age of 9, I was captivated by the magic of movies. Being able to pause, rewind, and review my favorite scenes sparked my curiosity about the filmmaking process. I wondered how titles were created, how scenes were cut, and how everything came together to create a masterpiece. Before I was a Film Editor, I was a Popular DJ that played in many high-end elaborate parties in Dominican Republic. My DJ experience helped me become a better editor through my talent at beat matching. Although I didn't begin working in the industry until 2007, I had already created several DVD titles and concerts. But it wasn't until I was 27 that I had my first experience with feature films. I vividly remember the thrill of modifying a film for DVD and the challenge of bringing my creative vision to life. My passion for filmmaking led me to collaborate with some of the greatest filmmakers in the Dominican Republic on "Excexos." We were a band of "Road Warriors" who used guerilla filmmaking to create movies at a fraction of the cost. Despite the challenges we faced, we never lost sight of our dream to make our mark on the industry. Thanks to the Cinema Law established in 2009-10, we were finally able to turn our passion into a career. And while we have all taken different paths since then, we have all played a vital role in shaping the Dominican film industry into what it is today. For me, filmmaking is not just a career, it's a way of life. It's a passion that continues to drive me to create, innovate, and push the boundaries of what's possible.
Can you tell us about your creative process when it comes to
writing, directing, and producing a film?
My role is to help shape the story in a way that brings the director's vision to life while also creating a compelling and entertaining experience for the audience. During the editing process, we can inject our own creativity into the film by selecting the shots that best convey the message and mood the director is aiming for. It's a delicate balance between staying true to the director's vision while also bringing our own unique perspective to the project. For me, the creative process truly begins when we start to shape the story. We work to understand the director's goals for the film and then use all our techniques in shaping the story to make it even more impactful. Whether it's through music, pacing, or visual effects, our goal is to create a powerful emotional connection with the audience and leave them with a lasting impression. Overall, the creative process is a collaborative effort between the director, producer, and editor. We all work together to bring the vision to life and create something that is truly special and memorable.
Which of your films would you say has had the
greatest impact on your career, and why?
When it comes to my career, I believe that it's not just one film that had the greatest impact, but rather a combination of three films. First off, "Quien Manda" was my first film that became a #1 seller, and it really helped me make a name for myself as a Film Editor. This success gave me the opportunity to work on "Pueto Pa' Mi," which was a massive urban film drama blockbuster. But it was "Que León" that truly stands out as probably the biggest selling Dominican film of all time, and certainly the most popular of the last 20 years. The film premiered in over 30 countries and received enormous acclaim and success. These three films together have been instrumental in shaping my career and opening doors for me in the industry.
You've worked extensively in the Caribbean film industry. How would you describe the unique aspects of Caribbean cinema that set it apart from other film industries around the world?
Caribbean cinema, particularly Dominican cinema, has several unique aspects that set it apart from other film industries around the world. One of the most notable aspects is our language, as we are a society that values humor and takes a lighthearted approach to life's troubles. Additionally, we have a strong cultural emphasis on being of different races and ethnicities, which we accept with open arms and make them a part of our world. As a religious society, we turn to our beliefs to help us overcome societal problems, which reinforces our message of positivity and love. This is a unique aspect of our culture as many other cultures do not prioritize spirituality in the same way.
You have a reputation for producing several films each year. How do you maintain your creative energy and motivation while juggling multiple projects?
It's true that juggling multiple projects can be challenging, but I believe that organization, time management, and a dedicated team are essential to maintaining creative energy and motivation. But it's not just about time management - having a supportive team is crucial to my success. In the last 3 years, I have been fortunate to work with a group of talented assistant editors and producers within Caribbean Films who help me bring my vision to life. As we collaborate on each project, I take great pride in watching them grow and develop their own editing skills. Overall, I'm deeply passionate about the filmmaking process and I approach each project with a sense of excitement and dedication. Through careful planning, hard work, and the support of my team, I'm able to maintain my creative energy and produce multiple films each year.
Are there any specific themes or messages you aim
to convey through your films?
If so, how do you decide which stories to tell? As an editor, I work closely with the director and producer to bring their vision to life and to shape their story into something magical. I take pride in injecting my own artistic sensibilities and craftsmanship to enhance the story, whether it's through the selection of music cues, the integration of stock footage, or the use of creative editing techniques. Ultimately, my goal is to create a cinematic experience that not only tells a great story, but also engages, challenges, and inspires audiences to see the world in new and meaningful ways.
What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers
looking to make their mark in the industry?
It's essential to remember that success rarely comes easy, and overcoming obstacles and setbacks is a natural part of the journey. Do not shy away from defeat, work, or sacrifice; rather, embrace them as opportunities to grow and improve. A pivotal moment in my life that significantly contributed to my path as a filmmaker was an accident that left me wheelchair-bound for the better part of two years. During this challenging period, I had to learn to adapt and work from home, focusing on activities that I could accomplish using my hands and a computer. This experience not only tested my resilience but also fostered a deeper connection with the art of filmmaking, as I found solace in the creative process and the stories I could tell through this medium. When starting out, don't let a lack of budget or expensive equipment hold you back; instead, focus on crafting compelling stories and developing your skills as a filmmaker. It's normal to make mistakes and to feel like your first project is not perfect, but that's all part of the learning process. The key is to start and leave your fears behind. Through perseverance and hard work, you can achieve your dreams and make your mark in the film industry.
How have your personal experiences and background influenced
your filmmaking style and the stories you choose to tell?
Our culture places great emphasis on wholesome values and spirituality, which we draw upon to create stories that inspire others and convey positive messages. Despite having lived with lesser means than many other nations, we are always hopeful for a better future, which is reflected in our work. My films highlight the positive aspects of our culture and portray the journeys of life that are relatable to audiences across different cultures.
Can you share a memorable experience or challenge you faced
while working on a film set, and how you overcame it?
In my years of working in the film industry, I encountered a truly unforgettable challenge that put everything we had worked so hard for at risk. It was back in 2008, when we were exporting "Excexos" for its premiere. Just 24 hours before the big day, we made some last-minute changes to the film and realized that exporting it would take a whopping eight hours due to the slower machines at the time. Despite the exhaustion from our hectic work schedule, we soldiered on, leaving the computer to render while we went to bed.
Little did we know that a disaster was about to strike. In my bedroom, where the machine was set up, I had left the faucet running while brushing my teeth in my tired state. When I woke up six hours later, I was shocked to find the room flooded with water! The computer, still rendering with about two hours to go, was halfway submerged in water. Panic set in, and I was having a mental breakdown. We were in danger of losing everything we had worked so hard for, including the premiere. However, I refused to give up. I knew that I had to act fast and make the right moves if we were going to salvage the situation. I opened the door to let the water flow out of the room while grabbing the bed cover and jumping beside the machine to soak up the water and keep it from damaging the computer. I was determined to keep the render going and ensure that our film would be ready for its premiere. It was a challenging experience that tested our resilience, but thanks to our quick thinking and audacity, we were able to overcome it. Looking back, I realize how much that moment shaped my career and my approach to filmmaking. It was a lesson in the importance of perseverance, resourcefulness, and staying calm under pressure. If there's one thing, I hope to share with others in the film industry, it's that no matter how tough the situation may seem, never give up. There's always a solution to be found, and with the right attitude and mindset, you can turn any setback into an opportunity for growth and success.
Collaboration is key in filmmaking. How do you select your team members and foster a creative environment on set?
Collaboration lies at the heart of the filmmaking process. In selecting team members and cultivating a fertile creative atmosphere on set, regardless of the production team, we recognize that we are all integral components of a grander vision. United by our pursuit of impactful narratives, we actively seek individuals who comprehend and appreciate the significance of preserving the cinematic experience for audiences. Embracing this collective sentiment, we endeavor to contribute our talents to a broader public, creating films designed for widespread consumption. In doing so, we aim to fill theater seats and sustain the enchantment of cinema for all to witness and enjoy.
What role does the Caribbean culture play in your storytelling,
and how do you ensure that it is authentically represented on screen?
The essence of Caribbean culture is deeply woven into the fabric of our storytelling. Regardless of the narrative, our primary focus is to remain faithful to our rich heritage and cherished values. To guarantee an authentic portrayal on screen, we meticulously incorporate cultural references, historical myths, music, and sense of humor while conscientiously maintaining the veracity of our tales through the richness of the Caribbean scenery.
How has the film industry evolved since you began your career, and how have these changes impacted your work?
Since beginning my filmmaking journey, the industry has evolved remarkably, and the Cinema Law has greatly impacted my work. This pivotal change provides the support we need to thrive as filmmakers, enabling us to fully embrace our passion and make a living solely from our craft. This transformation has revitalized the film industry and ignited our creative spirits.
Are there any filmmakers or artists who have significantly inspired or influenced your work? If so, who are they and why?
Undoubtedly, there are several esteemed filmmakers and artists who have profoundly inspired and influenced my work. In the realm of editing within the English-speaking market, my admiration is directed towards Michael Kahn, Walter Murch, and Lee Smith. Their exceptional craftsmanship, unwavering dedication, and artistic vision have consistently encouraged me to elevate my own skills, relentlessly pursue excellence, and make the necessary sacrifices to extract the utmost potential from the material I mold. Similarly, in the Spanish language domain, José Salcedo, Angel Hernandez Zoido, and Alberto del Campo have left indelible marks on my creative approach. Their remarkable works serve as both a source of inspiration and a beacon that guides my aspirations, driving me to hone my craft and leave a lasting impact through my own artistic endeavors.
What are your future goals and aspirations in the film industry? Are there any specific projects or genres you would like to explore in the coming years?
I am particularly eager to explore thrillers, political suspense, emotional dramas, and horror, and infuse these genres with a distinctly Dominican flair. This unique approach will not only enrich my artistic expression but also contribute to the cultural diversity of the cinematic landscape. Furthermore, I am determined to broaden the reach of our films, ensuring that our stories captivate the hearts and minds of a global audience. By showcasing our narratives on an international scale, I aim to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation for our rich cultural heritage, while simultaneously advancing my own growth and evolution as a filmmaker.