Interview with director Gabriela Loza

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

When I was about seven years old, my mother took me to see the film musical “Funny Girl”, starring Barbra Streisand. The theatre was quite full so we had to sit in the third row, front and center. I remember looking up at my Mother during the film, she was laughing so hard with her head thrown back. When I looked over my seat to the audience I could see the light coming from the projection room glowing over all the laughing heads, including my own, projecting the moving images onto the screen in front of me. I think that was the moment I was hooked and fell in love with this amazing art form. When we were walking back to the car talking about how much we enjoyed the film, I said to my Mom, “I want to do that”. As she unlocked the car she asked me, “You want to be an actress?” I said  “No, I want to make them.”  I wasn’t sure what ‘them’  was at the time but have spent my life in pursuit.  I know that day I created a deep connection to filmmaking and storytelling. It’s a feeling that has never left me to this day.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

Yes and no. I can honestly say I have learned so much in film schools as well as from being on set and making my own short films. Ultimately I think filmmaking is a language. To become more fluent in that language, one must practice and educate oneself about filmmaking – in any way they can. It’s important to keep learning. 

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Getting started is always the easiest part. It is good to surround oneself with what I like to call “little engines” – people to keep things moving when you are tired, distracted or dealing with life. I always remind myself how lucky I feel to be able to express myself in the arena of film.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

The most important lesson for me was to listen to and trust myself. Filmmaking is a collaboration, a distillation of many ideas. As a collaborator I try to stay open to other directions and new ideas but also listen to my instincts. I found with a few of my choices I would debate an idea with collaborators but end up with my original direction.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

The main reality is that we are all imperfect humans. I have been fortunate to work with wonderful people who have only enhanced Erased (short 2021) with what they brought to the film. If you have a strong concept of the film you want to make – from beginning to end –  that helps with ending up with a cohesive film.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

Having to deal realistically with limitations. To make the choice of what is best overall for the production even if the outcome was not my preferred choice. 

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

The team for my short film Erased (2021) was comprised of people from film school as well as new professionals with whom I collaborated in post-production. It’s about making an effort to maintain relationships. I stay in touch with my cast and crew via e-mail and social media. Some have become good friends.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

I feel audiences want to be entertained, moved and taken on a journey. Showbusiness is both “show” and “business” so yes – filmmakers should think about their audiences and respect their needs, but also push themselves as artists.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Film festivals are a wonderful way to connect audiences with new or independent films. As a member of the audience, I like to see as many films as possible and appreciate the glimpse into new worlds and new experiences. As a filmmaker, I’m grateful to be able to present my work to audiences around the world. The film festivals have been great during the pandemic which has complicated in person screenings and attending. We are still managing to show our work to the world which is wonderful.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

Ideally, a filmmaker is genuine, true to themselves, with an authentic voice. As a viewer I’m watching a film through the lens “have I seen this film before?” I’m looking for an original, entertaining vision that takes me on a journey. Something that reaches in and moves me.