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Media Makers Profile: Gary Alvarez

What I do: Writer/Director - Independent Filmmaker

Since when: 13 years

Education: BA, Chicano Studies, UC Berkeley, ’02; MFA, Film Production, Chapman University, ’12

Born in Monterey Park, raised in Bell, and attended schools in Downey.

What got you interested in digital content or content storytelling as we call it?

Adapted novel manuscript into screenplay, took a film production class to learn how to direct; realized if no one wanted to edit my film, I better learn how to cut it myself. Post-film school, this DIY approach expanded into producing as well (no budget to hire producer).

What does a typical day look like - or give the reader an idea what you do when out in the field.

Typical day working from home: write for two hours, produce for two hours, cut for two hours, read for two hours; relax and enjoy life—includes going to gym, watching films/TV, spending time with family and friends. In the field: usually an 8 to 12-hour day of production as director working with actors and managing crew; now includes shooting own work with Canon C100 and learning cinematography.

Why has digital content become so important in the information marketplace?

Film/TV/digital content is the literature of the 21st century; by this I mean digital content is how people all over the world are telling stories, sharing ideas, selling products, promoting themselves and their business, creating careers. Digital technology has made it possible to anyone with a smart phone to shoot and edit their own content and deliver it via the web to the entire world!

What advice would you give any young aspiring content producer (filmmaker, producer, director)?

Stay true to yourself and your vision, keep developing your voice, be patient with deadlines, stay disciplined by creating every day, be persistent when others say “no” to your work, surround yourself with creative and productive people who will support your work but at the same time will give you constructive criticism to elevate your creativity; check your ego at the door, don’t take things personal, don’t assume, be impeccable with your word, always do your best; take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously; be of service to your community and fellow creatives; have fun, enjoy yourself and always remember why you hustle—to live life to its fullest!

Why is it important to ensure that the people who define and create content reflect the audience/readers?

For too long, we filmmakers and digital content creators of color have been excluded from Hollywood, from telling our own stories. Now is the time to change that. It’s important that we tell our own stories and not let anyone write them for us. We also need to break into mainstream film and TV; those jobs are at our fingertips and with training we can compete for these lucrative careers. Always remember to open the door for the next creator to follow you!

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