By: Ana Quiroz-Samayoa
Film has always been my constant. It is the one thing in life that I can count on to help guide my decisions and that is why I am a filmmaker.
I grew up in Queens, New York and my earliest memories all have to do with going to the movies. I grew up with young parents so going to the movies was something we could all do together. We didn’t always understand what was going on since we had very limited English, but that is the beauty of the cinema-- filmmakers using visual arts to communicate with an audience, making the barriers of language disappear for that moment.
Fast forward to my senior year of high school and somehow my parents were surprised to learn that I would be going to school to study film. I wanted to learn the how and the what and the why of film. I wanted to be the one to create the magic for another family someday and logic wasn’t going to stop me.
Everyone seemed to throw that word at me in two languages. “Why are you going to film school?” “You aren’t going to find a job.” “Ese trabajo es para hombres.” My response is always the same, if I’m going to spend 40k and several years of my life on something, it’s going to be doing what I love.
And it ended up being SEVERAL years. Seven years to be exact. That long journey is a story for another day.
For my final year of college I had to work on a senior project. Most of the people at my school made a music video or a short film, but I had done those for my regular classes. I wanted to do something big. I’ve been a production assistant on a few sets and watching the directors always made me feel like I could do it too. When I was on set I felt completely at home and in my element, so why shouldn't I give myself the chance to be the leader? I knew no one was going to just give me a directing job while I was still in school so I had to do it myself, but maybe not all by myself.
I met Yari in a film course in college. I gravitated towards her since I was always used to being the only Latina in the classroom, but then I saw her and thought “my God there are more of us!” After working together on several group projects-- some successful and some that made us want to cry, we decided we could work together without being forced to. We created Las Mijas Productions and got to work on our senior project. We decided we were going to make our own web series so that we could have our own authentic filmmaking experience. With a lot of work, help from our friends and a little bit of luck we were able to produce a 10-episode web series called Maintain.
Maintain exceed all of our expectations and was pretty successful during its run. We love that people loved the series so much and were invested in the characters that once only existed in my head. I had someone tell me that it brought he and his daughter together every week. I was delighted to hear that since it reminded me of the times I spent watching films with my parents and and here I am, a decade later, doing that for someone else. Yari and I spoke of doing more right away but found our pockets were empty. If we were going to be spending any money on anything, we knew it had to be on finishing up our bachelor's degrees.
We will both be graduating in a few weeks and that is when the next part of our journey as filmmakers begins. We decided to start this blog not only to document how we grow Las Mijas going forward, but also to share reflections of the stories that inspire us. We hope that you learn from our failures and successes enough to inspire you to get out there and use your voice to tell your unique stories. There is nothing you can't do without talent, perseverance and a little bit of luck.