Film Courage: People who wait for a filmmaking career will never have one? Without of course naming any names, can you think of some people in your life who are very talented but who are waiting? Maybe this frustrates you? Maybe you see the opportunity in front of them but they won’t take it for whatever reason?
Kenneth Castillo, Filmmaker: Yes, mostly colleagues. I won’t even say friends, just people that you run into. What I’ve come to realize is that (particularly those filmmakers who’ve come out of film school) you are not going to have a crew of 30 on your next film. They come out with these great thesis films and they want to get their feature made. But in this age of independent filmmaking, no one is going to give you a million dollars to do your thesis film.
And when I don’t see them working or trying to kind of start from scratch whether it’s a short film (whatever it is) to continue to do the craft until you get that. I’m not saying it’s not possible but I’m really blown away by filmmakers I know that have a great thesis film from film school and are waiting to make their feature film. I’m like “Why aren’t you doing something now?” “I don’t want to film something on my phone. I don’t want to shoot something with a three-person crew.” I’m like “What are you waiting for?”
It’s not something I can tell people. You’ve got to figure that out on your own. But if you’ve been 10 years now (and I know filmmakers that are 10 years out of film school) still thinking they are going to get 3 million dollars to produce their first film based off of their thesis.
Film Courage: Why do you think this is? Do you think they feel they’re at a different status level? They don’t want people…they want to have investors?
Kenneth: I think it’s a combination of that and people in this industry. I think everyone looks at their trajectory going like this [consistent upward line] and it doesn’t. You started with a thesis and you have a crew of thirty and all of this millions of dollars worth of equipment that the school provides for you. You get out, do you really want to film your short movie on an iPhone? The ones that work do. Because that’s ego. In my experience having done as much as I’ve done what I’ve found is there are certain film schools (and I’ve hired certain film school students)…but I won’t say the ones where they have the least discipline but the ones with the MOST discipline have come from the Los Angeles Film School. They have come with the discipline to work. It didn’t matter how good their thesis film was. If my crew was small or whatever, they wanted to work, they wanted to learn and they wanted to produce.
Film Courage: I know there’s a lot of backlash on Millennials that they don’t want to work and things like that. I haven’t always seen this. I’ve seen work ethics differ across many generations (even in Generation X I’ve seen varied work ethics). Do you think it’s generational or a mindset?
Kenneth: It’s definitely a mindset, I don’t find it generational at all. If this is what you want to do, you’re going to do it and you’re going to do it as often as you possibly can. The thing I say to people who want to be writers, you have to be writing everyday. If you want to…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
BIO: Kenneth Castillo began his writing/directing career in 1996 producing theatrical productions at the Two Roads Theatre in Studio City. After producing, writing, and directing several full and one act plays, he turned his full attention to film. In 2000, along with his producing partner (and now wife) Karla Ojeda, formed a film production company called Valor Productions. Their first venture out was a series of short films entitled The Misadventures of Cholo Chaplin. A series of silent short films shot in the style of the serial shorts of the 20’s and 30’s and set in the world of The Day of the Dead. Several different episodes went on to screen at film festivals across the country including HBO’s New York International Latino FF and the Los Angeles International Short FF. In 2007, Episode V-A Day at the Theatre was accepted and screened at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in France and the following year won the Imagen Award for BEST THEATRICAL SHORT FILM.
That same year Kenneth was featured on American Latino T.V. as an up and coming Latino filmmaker and caught the attention of Plus Entertainment. Since July of 2008, Kenneth has written and directed six feature films, all of which have been distributed on multiple platforms such as Netflix, Redbox and Blockbuster and in retail stores such as Walmart and Target.
In 2011 he directed the boxing drama Counterpunch about a Cuban, Bi-Polar, boxer out of Miami who gets help from his family as well as his crisis counselor that featured Danny (Machete) Trejo in a good guy role. Counterpunch caught the attention of Lionsgate and was distributed across the country and in Canada.
Kenneth is currently in post-production on his 7th feature film entitled Marigold the Matador and is the first feature from his new production company Cienfuegos Productions.
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