David Valdes, Film Producer

Latino nominated for an Academy Award in cinematography

By Steven Chavez
Published on LatinoLA: February 1, 2008

David Valdes, Film Producer

It is a privilege and blessing that I am able to write about the accomplishments of a Chicano Film Producer. David Valdes has received many awards for his work in the film industry and recognized by many entertainment and civic groups for his extensive work in Television and Film.

That may be enough and adequate for many but I would like to thank David Valdes for the encouragement and justification to continue in education and action; and for the encouragement to continue to strive and move forward to achieve one's dreams.

He is originally from the Echo Park/Silver Lake area of Los Angeles, California. Gracias, David.

Born and raised in southern California, David earned a Bachelor of Theatre Arts degree from UCLA graduating magna cum laude. He began his film career as an assistant director working with such esteemed directors as Martin Scorsese, Wim Wenders, Clint Eastwood, and Frances Ford Coppola.

David has recently received an Academy Award Nomination for his film, "The Assassination of Jesse James" staring Brad Pitt in the category of Best Cinematography.

David Valdes is also a highly respected film producer. He has successfully collaborated as a producer with such noted filmmakers as Clint Eastwood, Francis Ford Coppola, Frank Darabont, and Kevin Costner. He has help launch the careers of many popular actors. His 20 plus films has grossed in excess of $1 billion worldwide.

He produced several films for Clint Eastwood and Malpaso Productions in the 80's and 90's including "Unforgiven" which won (4) Four Academy Awards and the DGA Awards in 1993. He has also won the DGA Award and the Western Heritage Awards for the films "Unforgiven" and "Open Range". In 1999, he produced "The Green Mile" staring Tom Hanks, which was nominated for several Academy Awards as well.

His last action film was the Valdes-produced adaptation of the 1895 classic by H.G. Wells "The Time Machine".

David states that he is swearing off action movies in favor of "character-driven" Latino stories. "There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of stories with Latino dynamics and it's time for them to be told". Mr. Valdes is unsure how to get studios interested. Not that he has not tried. "For the past five or six years, I have been trying to develop some Latino-themed projects, but very few of these movies are being made", adding that he has occasionally had to use his own money on such projects.

The big studios that dominate Hollywood and the surrounding Latino community, he maintains, share the blame. "It's not just about producing Latino-themed programming," he says, "It's about producing good-quality stories". His recent unreleased work titled "A Night in Old Mexico" and filmed in New Mexico with Dennis Hopper and Robert Duval.

David Valdes is a member of many organizations including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Directors Guild of America, the Producers Guild of America and the American Film Institute. Currently he sits on the Board of Directors for the Latino Theater Company and is a mentor to graduate students studying at the University of Southern California Peter Stark graduate producers program. Congratulations David Valdes and thank you for being there, Carnal.

Let's all wish our Chicano Brother the best!

About Steven Chavez:
Steven Chavez is an occasional contributor to LatinoLA and Executive President of the East LA Internet Radio Web Site.

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