By Daryan Rodriguez, Filmmaker/Actor, Guest Writer
The inspiring partnership of Jessica Just and Hipolito Munoz which founded Creating Creators, goes the extra mile to ensure that the students associated with their program are growing filmmakers. I had the fortune of being involved with Creating Creators since my sophomore year of high school until graduation. Although I am a graduate, the duo cares deeply that other graduates and I continue to make progress towards a career in film. During the summer of 2019, Hipolito, often recognized as “Polo”, and Jessica gave me the privilege to further expand my knowledge and work on professional sets. Since I was mentored by Creating Creators most of my high school years, they trusted that I’d be able to carry myself accordingly on set. One of the projects Polo offered me, I got the unique opportunity to interview artists from Paint The Mic and then make a short documentary about them. Our production team for the documentary was made up of former students of Creating Creators mentored by the spectacular Ellen Gerstein.
Paint the Mic is an annual art project that showcases artists from many mediums including poetry. This was an outstanding event to be associated with ever since the beginning. The first work I did for the event was assisting the always passionate painter, and artist Maggie Cleary on building a stage for the show. I enjoyed participating in the labor necessary to ensure the show would go up smoothly.
The first time I met filmmaker, Ellen Gerstein was to have a production meeting about the documentary we were intending to make based on the artists from Paint The Mic. Ms. Gerstein invited our production team into her home so that we may prepare the questions and strategies that would be effective when interviewing these professional artists. After a successful and informative production meeting, our team was ready to hit the ground running to produce this short film. We had to write the structure of the documentary before we filmed, and we decided we were also going to interview ourselves as part of the film. Interviewing each other before any artist provided useful practice so when the day came that the artists were available, we would execute the interviews easily. Shortly before the night Paint The Mic was supposed to go up, I finally got to conduct the highly anticipated interviews with some amazing poets, singers, writers, and directors. I had the honor of interviewing people such as the founder of Paint The Mic, Goya Robles and the show’s director, Javier Molina. After all the interviews were shot, many hours of footage were sent to our editor, who would construct the film and have it ready to display on the night of the event.
The night of Paint The Mic went fantastic for everyone involved. When Creating Creators took the stage, former student, Litzy Cabrera said some words about the program, before we screened a short film made by elementary schoolers. After the film was shown, it was time to present the documentary we had been working for the past few weeks in front of the audience. I felt a massive amount of joy and relief watching our film on the screen. The pressure of producing the film was over, and all that was left to do was enjoy a very successful night of poetry. The distinct opportunity to have my work displayed at an art gallery makes me overwhelmingly grateful for the effort Polo and Jessica put into their current and former students. This experience of making the documentary and helping put up the show is something that I will not be forgetting soon.