It Didn't Always Start Out with Film

By: Yari Olivo-Camacho

I was raised by my grandparents in a very small barrio called Los Viejitos located in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. It is because of this that I didn’t always know about the latest technology - My grandmother did not own a fancy TV or a VCR.  Our TV only had like 4 channels – 2, 4, 6 and 11.  Our main stations were WAPA, Telemundo and Canal 11/Univision, and there was no such thing as having a “TV guide”.  I didn’t know much about filmmaking as a child…I was oblivious to what filmmaking was or that it was even a profession.  The closest connection I had to film in my childhood was watching Telenovelas with my abuelita. They have become such an inspiration and one of the reasons I chose to be a filmmaker today.

As I grew older I knew I wanted to be an artist – primarily my focus went into acting, dance, and writing.  I dreamt of one day becoming a telenovela and Broadway star, as well as a renowned screenwriter.  My life was full of dreams and I was determined to making them come true.

Photography by: Ana G Hernandez

Photography by: Ana G Hernandez

Things suddenly changed for me the summer after I turned 17, I suffered a serious car accident that left me physically disabled.  I decided to put my dreams of pursuing an education at NYU on hold in order to commit time to my recovery.  I chose to stay in Delaware and enroll in college to study film.  In some ways, you can say that my accident led me down the path of filmmaking.  I used the years spent recovering from the multiple surgeries to learn as much as I could about film – composition, lighting, editing, literally everything I could get my hands on.  I can even vividly remember my first day of college I still had on a cast and used crutches to guide me throughout the campus.

My accident was the beginning of a new journey. I wanted to be the person who created stories and gave life to the characters that I had once wrote down on paper. I thought if I couldn’t perform in front of a camera, I would instead do everything in my power to bring my visions to life-- behind the lens.  The thought of being able to sit with my abuelita and show her one of my films and letting her know that “mira abuelita, eso lo hice yo” (“look grandma, I made that”) was the driving force to my dreams. 

This is why it is so important to never give up. If a life changing event happens and you are no longer able to fulfill your initial vision, think of other ways to make it happen. Persistence is your best friend. The only limitations you have are ones that you set for yourself, so never let anyone else tell you that you “cannot” do something.  My life changing event led me to pursue filmmaking in college, where I met Ana had an instant connection.  

Finding someone who loves telenovelas and can hold a conversation for hours about how Soraya Montenegro and Paola Bracho are two of the best female villains of all time is someone you just can’t let go! I felt like after we met, we became inseparable.  We are two Latina filmmakers eager to learn, and be part of an industry that is primarily dominated by men.  The fire and passion in our hearts enabled us to tackle difficult situations and pursue our dreams no matter what others say.

I cannot wait to share with all of you our stories, inspirations and tips.  We believe in the power of storytelling and I feel like this blog will allow us to express our opinions and ideas while learning about ourselves and the world around us.  We want to share stories that others are probably to afraid to share, challenge ourselves and our readers to think outside of the box while still staying true to oneself.  Please share this journey with us.