For the seventh Big Tell Filmmaker Profile, we’ve asked local filmmaker Luis Alcazar ten questions about himself and his mini-documentary about the memories and history of the Kadota fig through the eyes of a young Chicana who was raised in Planada, California.

Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF): As you were born in Guadalajara, how long have you been in the Central Valley and what do you love most about it?

Luis Alcazar (LA): [I have been in the Central Valley] over 20 years. I love the fact that we are surrounded by beauty all year long. Everywhere you look, you can find [the] picturesque views of our landscapes, towns, and [culturally] diverse people that make the Central Valley such a wonderful place.

CVCF: How long have you been interested in filmmaking?

LA: I started to get into filmmaking 26 years ago when I was in high school.

CVCF: How did you get into filmmaking?

LA: Although I had studied for the film industry and loved filmmaking, having a family made it difficult to pursue that career. It was after many years in real estate [that] I was presented an opportunity that changed my life forever. In 2010 I heard that there was a contest [offered] by KMPH for a cancer prevention video. I entered and won. Putting my fears aside and embracing my passion, I quit real estate and became a full-time filmmaker.

CVCF: Are there any directors, screenwriters, etc. that have influenced you?

LA: Screenwriters [who have influenced me include] Stephen King, George Lucas, [and] Alfred Hitchcock. Directors [who have influenced me include] Alejandro G. Iñárritu, George Miller, James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, and Guillermo Del Toro. [I have also been influenced by] cinematographers [like] Emmanuel Lubezki, John Seale, [and] Rodrigo Prieto.

CVCF: Where does your inspiration come from?

LA: Moving back and forth [between] Mexico and the United States, I [became insecure] about how I speak. [To] this day, I struggle to get my point across verbally; however, it has been through the art of filmmaking that I can truly express myself. My inspiration is being able to give a voice not only to myself but [to] others who have a story to tell.

CVCF: What’s your favorite movie?

LA: Too many to choose from!

CVCF: Do you have a favorite “guilty pleasure” film?

LA: Pulp Fiction.

CVCF: Imagine budget was no object – what would your dream film project look like?

LA: It’s a toss-up between a documentary and a [psychological] thriller/horror film. The documentary would be about certain Valley kids who grew up in extreme poverty and under difficult circumstances, but were able to turn their [lives] around. The [other] film would be about [the] Mexican legend “La Llorona” [which was] told to me as a child to keep me in check. I would love to make that tale into a film because it’s part of my history.

CVCF: What is your film for The Big Tell about?

LA: [My film] On the Banks of El Canal follows [memories] of Planada [California] and the history of the Kadota fig through the eyes of a young Chicana who was raised [there]. [She] spent much of her youth in and near the banks of the Planada Canal (El Canal). As the daughter of farmworkers, she [witnessed] and [experienced] the beauty of the land her parents [tilled] as well as the challenges of living in a small, rural agricultural town. El Canal also [follows] the [community’s] farmworkers, particularly the women with newborn children who [are unable to] afford daycare.

CVCF: What does winning this grant for The Big Tell mean to you?

LA: Winning this grant means that I have the opportunity and a platform to showcase my passion [and] hard work, and [the] years of dedication I have put into filmmaking.

If you’d like to connect with Luis Alcazar, please visit him on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Behance.

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Make sure to come out on Friday, October 20, 2017 for The Big Tell Showcase at Warnors Theatre! All 10 films by our extremely talented filmmakers will be screened at a FREE, all-ages red carpet event. Make sure to RSVP now!