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.
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!