Filmmakers: Sergio Carvajal

Sergio Carvajal started his career in music: he played bass and sang in an indie band that was signed with a label.  When they broke up, he wanted to do interactive shows — his band was very theatrical and always projected a 16mm reel while they were playing.  He wanted to create a show where everything was planned, including a storyline with videos.  So he went to the University of Texas to get a film degree — that’s when he knew he wanted to become a filmmaker.

Then things started happening.  His films were accepted at SXSW and Tribeca, and soon he landed a job with a video game company that was trying to branch out into trans media and wanted someone to direct their video division.  “Even though I was getting paid pretty well, I decided I wanted to make bigger films, so I went to Hollywood.”  He joined the American Film Institute’s directing track, but after a semester he realized that Hollywood was not for him.  “I worked for a lot of people in LA, but for what I want to do, to have the kind of impact I want to have on society, I want to include other races and other stories.  I feel the challenge for me and other minority content producers is to produce authentic content outside of Hollywood, and prove how new stories can make money too. Maybe then, Hollywood will once and for all open their gates for other perspectives and faces to come in to their party.”

So he decided to produce his own work.  He partnered up with photographer Romina Olson to create a production company that does original content, and also has a service branch that does commericals and music videos.  They spend much of their day working on client projects, but when they’re not working on those, they is producing their own web series.

“I don’t like the term ‘web series’ — I think it cheapens the content.  I come from a culture that is very into soap operas.  The difference between Venezuela and the US is that soap operas there last 6 months, in America they last 20 years.  So that’s the way I think about stories — you come in, you have a whole story, it ends nicely or not so nicely, but then you move on to another story.  Episodic content gives you the chance to fall in love with the characters.”

His new series, El Gallo, is designed for Mexican-American viewership and is in Spanish.  It is about a man from northern Mexico who found a magical rooster that never loses a fight.  For 22 years he lives off the rooster and never has to work.  But one day, after waking up from another night of binge drinking and celebration, he realizes the rooster has been stolen, so he pursues the thieves (and the rooster) to the US.

In addition to episodic video, Sergio is also a proponent of multi channel media (trans media).  Other media like music or magazines that appear in his series will also be available, so viewers can read the same magazine the characters are reading, and listen to music by one of the characters. He plans to reach out to his audience through multiple platforms.  “The idea is to not limit your creativity to video.”

He also has a different way of thinking about content creation.  “You have to think about distribution from moment of conceptiualization.  Who is the audience, what brands does that audience consume?  From the beginning you have to think that way, not later on.  Leave a bit of wiggle room for other brands to come in.  One of the problems with artists is that they think marketing is the worst thing – it can be, but marketing could also be the most amazing form of art — customized for you.”

You can see a trailer for his series here: http://www.iamfacundo.com

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