Gemma Garcia - Storyteller at Heart
Gemma Garcia is just entering the film industry, as most of us do, by putting money in our pockets by taking up gigs and then spending it all on personal projects.
Born in Monterrey, Mexico, she moved to the United Stated at 11 years old. She grew up performing and then studied live performance. Eventually she got a degree in Theater at the University of North Texas which lead her to Chicago to continue improv and sketch comedy. It was there she realized how much she loved writing, so she wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.
Eventually she had so much material she really wanted to put out, so she started filming sketch comedy for YouTube, not unlike our first filmmaker of the week, Brandon Reich. This coincided with her moving to Austin to thaw out from the cold of the windy city. So her and and old friend started filming little sketches, until one day she decided she should learn how to do videos that are a little more complex than 2-minute sketches filmed on her iPhone. That brought her to taking up classes at the Austin School of Film last year, and since she’s done four micro-budget short films, the latest of which will be premiering at our event December 14th!
Where she differs from many other filmmakers is that being on set, despite loving it, is not her favorite part. She is definitively first and foremost a writer, a true storyteller. Her acting and performance background have also given her a particular enjoyment of directing, knowing how it feels to be in that position definitely give her an advantage. She instinctively feels what a performance is missing and how to address it with the actors. It all boils down to the concept of putting ideas in people’s head. Be it the actors she directs, the crew members, or especially the audience through her stories.
What interested you in filmmaking? "Storytelling. I am very intrigued by visual storytelling, so I wanted to explore telling the stories I’ve written without saying any words. I have yet to do that still, it’s something I’m currently working on, being able to tell you what I need to tell you without literally telling you. The script I am currently working on, which is a short psychological thriller, is going to be my first attempt at minimal to no dialogue, so we’ll see how it goes."
With her main focus being writing, she also wants to write books, especially books that will help people in some way or another. She’s been writing her first book for the past two years, and hopes to publish it at the end of 2019. The desire to do with her life what she wants with her life, and not what she “should” do is the burning fire that keeps her going. Along with a sincere disdain for an average 9 to 5 job and a love of sleeping in (I relate).
While she has indeed faced adversity and difficult times, she feels very lucky to have been blessed with the ability to always push through, no matter what. Learning that from her mom at a young age, she continues to have her as her rock. Everyone has gone through their own problems, "What matters is what you do with the lessons learned (or not?) and the trauma after, and how you continuously deal with situations and circumstances you have no control over. You either let them build you up, or destroy you. I chose and continue to choose the former. I didn’t come this far to only get this far, you know?"
To fund her projects and dreams, she freelancer as an editor, camera operator and does social media content. She is currently speeding through the start of her filmmaking. She went from the YouTube channel of female-driven comedy filmed on her iPhone, to learning to make better quality films. Which lead her to produce two comedy shorts, a documentary and a sci-fi short film. As well as following an Austin local band (Call Me King) around the Midwest while they were on tour to film a documentary about music and the idea of chasing a calling in the arts.
She emphasizes: “And I mean calling, not a dream. F*** calling this a dream, for some of us, it’s all we are. And that’s what I’m exploring in that.”
All of this she’s done during this year, and all her projects are definitely more personal, never really money oriented, usually spending all her money making them. "When you put out work for the sheer love of it in lieu of for the pursuit of money, the money comes back somehow". Even if it hasn’t been a lot yet, it’s a steady stream, and it has all happened because she’s made work that she genuinely loved, with everything she had to give.
Her proudest work yet has been the short documentary In Her Shoes she did earlier this year and her latest project, the sci-fi thriller Alpha Mond. And this last one, we’ll be premiering on the 14th of December at our screening event! If you would like to see the premiere, you can get tickets here.
Currently she’s concentrating on finishing the larger documentary for the band she toured with, as well as continuing with her book and smaller gigs to pay the bills along the way. Even though she’s concentrating on these larger, slower projects at the moment, she does have another project lined up soon, a short psychological thriller called Transient. Currently a draft, it’s another super-personal project she’s itching to get out. A one-person cast in a very challenging role, she can’t wait to jump on it and cast and direct it. Sometimes feeling a little overwhelmed by all the projects she wants to do, she wants to try and finish what’s currently on her plate before scooping more projects on to it.
Where do you go from here? “All I can really say is that I’m gonna keep doing me, whatever that turns out to be. One never knows what’s going to happen next. But that’s life. Not knowing. Delicious ambiguity. From the bottom of my heart, I suggest you do the same, honestly.”
If you want to follow what she does next go check out her IG account!
And if you would like to attend her first premiere of a short film, we’re premiering it at our “Into the Scene” event December 14th in East Austin. You can get tickets here!