El Rojo

Is there really an answer?

As a teenager growing up in a private and conservative high school in Ecuador, the options you had for your professional future was to inherit your family’s business, be a lawyer, a doctor, or a business manager. All my school friends around me had their future lifetime jobs already secured before they even finished high school. In my case, I had the same option to work in my family’s business, but my passion really was towards something more complicated. I started discovering the world of media by making media. I self taught the basics of filmmaking while looking for an opportunity to create something that could convince my parents that I not only liked media but that I was somewhat capable of doing media.

About ten years ago, my school really didn’t care much about the arts, the media world, or anything that deviated from the more “serious” careers or sports. I really don’t blame them for this. In those days, the notion of earning an adequate salary and making a career from a media job in Ecuador seem to be very distant and nearly impossible. In the meantime, I found out about the only national film festival in Ecuador for high-school students. It was still a new initiative and with little support from higher entities. Still, this was the opportunity I needed to test myself in the world of making media and to see how other would react to the amateur content I produced.

 I wrote a script about a teenager, Manuel, that is locked up by two bullies in a dark storage room where he finds a strange mexican sombrero that turned him into a powerful superhero named El Rojo. Manuel, El Rojo, escapes the storage room embarks on a mission to capture the bullies and get his spicy revenge. By controlling all their movements, he records a video of them eating super spicy Yucatán sauce and throwing buckets full of dark beans to each other. The embarrassing video is posted in social media and the bullies are put to shame by the entire school on the next day. This bizarre short film comedy stood out among the participants of the festival since it was the only film that was not a drama or a candle lighted horror film. El Rojo won multiple categories during the festival, and it is still remembered and mentioned by the organizers every year. Despite the apparent success of El Rojo, I didn’t know exactly what I was doing at that time as a teenager. So many questions and no one to ask.

The experience with El Rojo really pushed me to not be another brick in the wall. To start a foundation of a new wall; a more colorful, fun, and messy wall. A wall that could be built, destroyed, and built again with a different material. I needed some help to build the new wall, so I asked the only person I knew that was into the media production business. Together we founded BALBOA FILMS, a small film production company based in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Inspired by the balboa swing dance that originated in California during the 1920’s, Balboa Films pursuits a fun experience while making media. In the last four years, we have produced a number of videos for a various number of companies, organizations, and artists. Personally, the experience of working with media feels as fresh as the first day. New themes, experiences, and questions to be answered. It will always be nerve wracking every time a client trusts us with their money to produce content that is expected to reach their audience or clients. But the reality is that most of the time, we don’t know exactly if the product we are making as a production company is going to have the desired outcome to meet expectations. There is always that uncertain feeling in every project I work on. And maybe that is what makes it so fun, the unpredictability of media.

Now, in this new life in Europe, I hope that it helps me to understand more deeply how to make sense of this overwhelming mediated world of possibilities. Because making media still did not really answered the essential questions that I been having since I was a teenager discovering media. What I’m doing with all of this? Where is this going to take me? These questions are the reason why I traveled almost ten thousand kilometers from my hometown Guayaquil to Amsterdam. There is a lot to discover, understand, and experience. You know… its complicated, but fun.

Student number: 13594753


Published by Life in Media

Website dedicated to the Media Life/Life in Media project of Mark Deuze, Professor of Media Studies, University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

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