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One Yes the Other No: An Interview with Juanita Umaña

Tell us about yourself. What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I started making films because I wanted to tell my own families’ stories. Their love and passion for life and for each other is what motivates my writing.

Talk about your last work. What are some of the challenges you faced during production?

The last film I made was shot in Colombia. Producing a film in a different country came with its challenges. I was working with people I had never met before in a market I was not familiar with, so I had to put a lot of trust into my producer in Colombia to help me build the film there. In the end it was a success and I would shoot there again.

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

Right now I am mainly telling stories about immigrants and the relationships between people in a family unit. My own families’ stories are what drive my desire to make films.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

Every project is different, but I try to approach a new project as “What can I do better that I didn’t do on the last one?” There’s always room to make each production smoother and better for everyone involved.

Director Juanita Umaña

Who are your filmmaking influencers? What are the films that were influential for you?

I’m very influenced by James L. Brooks, Agnes Varda, Mike Mills. I am always reaching for the emotion in Terms of Endearment in all of my work.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

I think the industry is slowly becoming more inclusive of people with different backgrounds. COVID has definitely made it harder for independent artists to fund their films given the extra costs that come with Health and Safety, but it has not made it impossible to make our films.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

I think anyone coming up right now should focus on telling stories only they can tell.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

Films are a view into other people’s perspectives and experiences in the world, and the more diverse these stories are the better we can understand communities different from our own. Could understanding people lead to a better world? Maybe, yes.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

I think people like to watch Tik Tok. I like to watch Tik Tok. But it is making our attention span very short which makes it harder for audiences to engage in films. The pandemic definitely shortened our attention spans. But I think people will eventually disconnect with their phones and reconnect with the bigger screen.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I am currently developing a feature script.


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