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Meet Andrew Garcia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andrew Garcia.

Andrew, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Miami until leaving for college at 18. I’m currently living in New York but Miami will always be home. Where else am I supposed to get croquetas and chill on the beach??

I first started to shoot small films with friends in my senior year in high school. This newfound passion leads me to the School of Visual Arts in New York City, where I first started to hone in on my craft, specializing in cinematography.

My first film, “Hollow Bodies”, was accepted into Miami Film Festival and even won several awards at the festival. This opened several opportunities for me and allowed me to be on set more consistently.

Throughout this time, I shot music videos for Miami rappers Fat Nick, Pouya, and Boobie Lootaveli. While also shooting and editing a film for Dior Homme during Art Basel.

In the past year, my thesis year at SVA, I planned on making my thesis film. I knew I wanted to tell a story that paid homage to my roots as a Puerto Rican-American and that commented on daily life in the Latin community. I had originally written and planned to make a film about a water crisis following a drought back in the summer of 2017. As soon as the news reports following the devastation of Hurricane Maria surfaced, I knew I had to tell a story that brought environmental awareness about the inadequate assistance offered to Puerto Rico, leaving disadvantaged communities to struggle—a failure of the U.S. government system.

At first, during pre production, the producer at the time had promised to fully fund the project with a partner. Once we were about a month away from filming, they backed out and left to LA with no explanation. I still don’t really have words to describe my frustration towards the situation. That month was spent reaching out to executives that I had met, applying to grants and other possible outlets for funding. But they either weren’t interested or felt that the project was simply “too ambitious.” At that point, news outlets were discovering the increasing death toll caused by Hurricane Maria and I just felt that I needed to make this film at any cost. I ended up taking out a loan to be able to stay on schedule and make the film.

Due to those restrictions, I was only able to bring down five crew members. Everyone knew how challenging the shoot would be, but we were met with nothing but love and support from the community while we were there. It was one of the most challenging and fun shoots I’ve ever been on. As soon as we got there it seemed like all the townspeople knew what we were filming and they did nothing but help and support us. They went out of their way to make sure we felt at home. The camaraderie that they displayed was unexpected and I feel so appreciative of everything they helped us with. During one scene, they even helped build a pipe and had water flow through a set of rocks just so we could improve upon the reality and urgency in the scene. It definitely gave our crew a huge boost of confidence while making the film. They were just important to the making of the film as anyone else in the crew. We were even able to do some community service to help the town we were in. It ended up being an unexpected bonding experience that we’ll never forget.

On March 2nd, the film made its world premiere at Miami Film Festival where it won Best Actor and Best Director in the Cinemaslam shorts program.

The film was also recently acquired by HBO and will be streaming starting May 1st, 2019.

I hope that artists, especially young filmmakers, don’t hesitate to tell the stories that feel right despite any no’s or roadblocks along the way. That one story could be the difference to the community around you and could go farther than you imagined.

I look to continue making work that mostly touches on issues of racial inequality, politics, and family. Coming from a multicultural background, I aim to create work that addresses issues of environmental crises and societal constructs and break the boundaries of what is defined as “race, culture, and globalization.”

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Coming from one of the most laid back cities in the US, I think the biggest challenge was adjusting to a faster-paced life in New York. There’s no time to be a slow learner. But because I was lucky enough to land a scholarship to get to NYC, there was no way I was going to let myself and my family down. This was my ticket in.

In addition, Filmmaking as a whole is more like a team sport. Which I have experience with growing up on basketball and soccer teams. I think that’s why I embrace it so much. But the hardest part about it is the climb up to where you want to be. Patience and understanding are essential since most notable filmmakers usually become household names later in life. But it shouldn’t keep one from trying to push yourself further on each project. That’s how we become the artists were meant to be.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am a 22-year-old director and cinematographer from Miami, Florida. My work mostly touches on issues of racial inequality, politics, and family. Coming from a multicultural background, I aim to create work based on my personal experiences and the community around me. While I’ve mostly worked on music videos and short films, I hope to create feature films that break the boundaries of what is defined as “race, culture, and globalization.” Currently based in New York, I travel between Miami and NY to feed my creative drive.

When you look back, what are you most proud of?
Definitely, my proudest moment thus far is having my film, “La Piel De Ayer”, acquired by HBO unexpectedly after the literal blood, sweat, and tears that my crew and I went through.

This story is so vital and needed at this point in time. It’s rare for us Latino’s to feel heard and it’s important to raise these voices. The real journey begins now.

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