Convergence of Creative Latino Industry Talent

National Association of Latina/o Independent Producers (NALIP) Conference 2012: Latina/o filmmakers unite April 12 - 15

By Carlos San Miguel, Contributing Writer
Published on LatinoLA: April 12, 2012

Convergence of Creative Latino Industry Talent

Starting Thursday April 12th thru Sunday April 15th, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) will hold the 13th Annual NALIP Conference a gathering of the nation's leading Latina/o entertainment professionals & those aspiring to establish a career in the footsteps of such well known talents like Gregory Nava, Salma Hayek and Moctesuma Esparza.

If you're a Latina/o or Chicana/o actor, writer, director, producer, this is an event you DON'T want to miss. Grab your wallet (the conference isn't free), your resum? & tell a friend or definitely come and network with filmmakers from around the country.

For a full schedule of events, speakers, prices, etc - check out: http://conference2012.nalip.org/
or for full info on the NALIP organization & programs: http://nalip.org

Founded in 1999 by a group of dedicated Latina/o & Chicana/o filmmakers & educators (Esparza among them), NALIP's first annual conference was held in San Francisco. Since it's inception, it has grown exponentially into a powerful & ever-increasing networking organization for Latina/o filmmakers nationwide (and internationally) who are focused on creating positive, diverse and HONEST portrayals of the Latina/o community and experience.

Comprised of directors, producers, writers, actors, production crew and showbiz executives from all levels of experience - NALIP's main goal has been to help foster and develop creative talent both in front of & especially behind the camera, where the real power lies in the art of movie-making. Based in Los Angeles, over the years member chapters have sprouted across the U.S. & even in Latin America providing opportunities through hands-on training, mentorship programs, Screenwriting Labs, annual Producers Academy, among other programs and even providing funding sources & scholarships to help independent filmmakers tell the Latina/o stories of the 21st century.

NALIP's annual conference (which rotates locations every year) has become a smorgasbord of who's who of Latina/o & Chicana/o talent in the film & TV industry presenting workshops, speaking on panels, presenting & sometimes premiering their newest work and for a limited few the opportunity to pitch ideas for new films and TV shows to the powerful decision makers (e.g. executives) of major networks, film studios and high-level production companies.

This year the conference will be held at Universal Sheraton and Universal Citywalk venues. On Friday night there will be a screening of this year's big hit film from the Sundance Film Festival: "Filly Brown," starring the newest "it girl": the gorgeous Gina Rodriguez and Edward James Olmos. And on Saturday night, the Gala Awards dinner will honor both Hollywood royalty Rita Moreno, one of the select few performers who has won an Emmy, Grammy, Tony & Oscar, with a Lifetime Achievement award & Jerry Velasco for his Advocacy Work.

The panels and workshops vary from feature & short filmmaking, documentaries, screenwriting, reality TV, commercial production, creating songs & soundtracks, working within the world of PBS and of course the continuously evolving & boundless possibilities of "NEW MEDIA" the internet.

Panelists and speakers for this year range over 60 different professionals from all areas of the entertainment industry including such people as: Pablo Cruz, producer of the hugely successful film "Miss Bala" (Mexico's 2012 entry for the Academy Awards) and "Sin Nombre", who will be speaking with Academy Award winning screenwriter Keir Pearson ("Hotel Rwanda") on the writing of their upcoming film, "CHAVEZ" the long-awaited feature film about the national labor & civil-rights hero Cesar Chavez (which will star Michael Pena, America Ferreira & Rosario Dawson). They will be joined on Saturday afternoon by Cesar Chavez' son Paul Chavez.

Among the cavalcade of speakers will also be accomplished screenwriter/ producer, Ligiah Villalobos (who's hit indie film, "La Misma Luna", starred Mexican superstar Kate del Castillo), who will speaking about and presenting a private screening for conference attendees of her newest project, the Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, "Firelight", starring Academy Award winner Cuba Godding, Jr., airing nationwide on ABC on Sunday, April 22nd (set your DVR for it). Plus some of the films stars & crew will be make an appearance to discuss the making of the film.

And toping the list of indie success stories, the legendary Robert Rodriguez (creator of the "El Mariachi" trilogy, the "Spy Kids" franchise and his classic "Bedhead", among various other films) will be the opening keynote speaker on Friday afternoon. And fresh off the recent news of his taking the helm of creating a new cable network, El Rey for Comcast aimed specifically at creating content for the Latina/o demographic - he likely will have plenty to say in his traditional entertaining, inspirational and rebellious Tejano style.

On Saturday the keynote speaker will be Ron Meyer, President & Chief Operating Officer of Universal Studios. So yes, the big wigs show up to this event.

The NALIP conference begins on Thursday morning at 8:30 AM with an Actors Summit where the entire focus of the day is on performers Latina/o & open to all performers of color to attend, learn and hopefully gain insight into bettering their career. Partnered with Backstage (the leader in actor related news/ information and resources) it serves as an excellent start to the entire weekend's activities. If you're beginning or even working actor, you should try to attend.

Among Thursday's various speakers, including leading casting directors, agents & managers, will be director Allen Martinez, who got his start working for Laurence Bender & Quentin Tarantino's company A Band Apart. A busy working director, Martinez currently has his first feature film, "Red Market", a dark sci-fi film that deals with health care in the near future. He'll be conducting a workshop on how actors can book jobs.

Also speaking, will be actress/ writer/ producer Ruth Livier, who created the ground-breaking webseries, "Ylse" (http://ylse.ne which won the 2010 Imagen Award for Best Internet Program. Livier has been featured on the cover of the WGA's magazine Written By as the first person to join the Writers Guild of America for her work in new media. Livier is also well known for her lead role in the Showtime series, "Resurrection Blvd." the first Latino-themed drama on TV.

Geared towards those already working professionally in the industry, the great thing about the NALIP organization and conference is that the door is always open for "newbies" to join the party and begin pursuing their dream of telling their stories.

Pioneer Chicano filmmaker Jesus Trevino took some time to answer a few questions about the NALIP conference and his own current projects. Trevino's work spans over four decades from starting as a young UCLA filmmaker & documentarian of the Chicana/o movement in the 1960's to working on PBS projects and eventually seguing to become the most successful Chicano director of television shows in the United States, directing such shows as: "Resurrection Blvd.", "Babylon 5", "Crusade", "Bones", "Star Trek: Voyager", "seaQuest DSV", "Crossing Jordan", and many more, plus having a long series of documentary work, including the hugely significant 1996 PBS series, "Chicano: History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement". In 2009 he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Directors Guild of America and is also a published author.

Carlos San Miguel: what has been your experience with NALIP? Anything you're looking forward to this year

Jesus Trevino: I am excited that NALIP is now under the direction of long-time activist Beni Matias and will be reaching out to all sectors of our creative Latino professional community and I'm really excited about some of the panels. And of course, I'm looking forward to hear what the keynote speakers have to say about our industry and the future.

CSM: What do you feel has been the greatest benefit (or drawbacks) of NALIP since it's inception?

JT: I participated as a guest in the NALIP board retreat last summer and one of the issues that came up was how to grow the organization and attract individuals at the more experienced end of the industry. For years, NALIP has offered great programs in writing and documentary production for up and coming professionals. But what about those veteran professionals with many years of experience in the industry? What can NALIP offer them? This year there will be an effort to provide something for them as well.

CSM: What do you hope attendees gain from attending your workshop panel ?

JT: I will part of a panel titled "The Social Life of Convergence" moderated by David Tames. What does the convergence of all the new media platforms and opportunities mean for Latinos? In a world of constantly changing technologies, old ways of doing things are being outmoded and this panel will suggest some new directions that Latino producers and filmmakers may want to consider. We'll hear from Scott Walker of Brain Candy who specializes in participatory entertainment and Hardie Tankersley of Fox Television who is knowledgeable in transmedia and how Fox is using Twitter and Facebook to enhance its audience outreach. It should be a thought-provoking panel.

CSM: As a pioneer Chicano filmmaker and author, how do you see today's youth involvement in activism, art, etc?

JT: Last month, I participated in documenting the three-state librotraficantes (book smugglers) caravan of banned books. As you know, the Tucson school district has removed dozens of books from the classrooms now that the teaching of Chicano Studies is banned in Arizona. But the high school students are not taking it sitting down. And in Houston, a caravan was launched that traveled from Houston to San Antonio to El Paso to Albuquerque and finally to Tucson to deliver boxes of the banned books to the high schoolers there.

Throughout the journey, the caravan was welcomed by young people joining in the struggle. I have seen the new face of young Latino activists pulling together to fight for the America ideal of freedom of expression. The energy, commitment and passion of the caravan reminded me of my days in the Chicano Civil Right Movement of the 1970s. My video reports are posted on www.latinopia.com

CSM: what current projects are you working on now?

JT: After forty years of directing mainstream prime time television episodic dramas, I have decided that I want to go back to how I started -- doing programming for and about Latinos. I started in 1969 as a producer on "AHORA!" a daily live broadcast over KCET that covered Chicano history, news, art, literature, music, theater and cinema.

Then we were just reaching the Southland.

Today the way to do it is through the internet. I believe that the future for storytelling for Latinos is tied to the internet and the new media. No one is sure how we can monetize it yet, but I decided to jump into the deep end of the pool with Latinopia.com. This is a video-driven website on Latino history, art, music, literature, theater, cinema and food. We launched in January of 2011 with 20 videos and I have been posting two videos a week -- we have close to 150 videos on the site now and it is growing. I welcome NALIPERS to share their works with our community on www.latinopia.com .

CSM: What new stories are you wanting to still tell & how ?

JT: Many of the stories that we as Latinos have to tell will not find a welcome in mainstream television and cinema. The stories are perceived as not being universal enough to reach wide audiences. That's, of course, not true, but the gatekeepers think it so and we don't get a chance to tell our stories.

But the landscape is changing.

Once there was only three major networks that all of America had to watch. Then cable came in and broke that up. Now, the internet offers the possibility of niche programming. And what larger niche audience than the 50 million Latinos in the United States? All those wonderful stories that are not being told and need to be told can and must be told. And the internet is the way to do it. Hence my website: www.latinopia.com

For a full schedule of events, speakers, etc - check out: http://conference2012.nalip.org/

or for info on the full organization: http://nalip.org

For info on Firelight on ABC April 22, 2012 go to: http://www.hhof.tv/synopsis

And tell a friend !

Also check out: http://ylse.net & www.latinopia.com


Cesar Chavez Day 2012 was on March 31st & is being celebrated throughout April
Sign the Petition for a National Cesar Chavez Day of Service & Learning for March 31st


at the link above also get more info on upcoming events or plan an event in your area !

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About Carlos San Miguel, Contributing Writer:
Actor & Writer -
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