AquaBrew is ecstatic to introduce to you David Blue Garcia, a great Texan filmmaker. We will be screening Garcia's first multi award-winning feature film TEJANO at this AquaBrew's 2nd Saturday Hang Out, Saturday, July 13th. David will be present as well as some members of the cast. The event is presented in collaboration with the San Marcos Cinema Club.
Get to know a little bit more about David Blue Garcia in the interview below. Questions provided by Voyage La Magazine.
David, Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. (You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.)
David Blue Garcia: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As a kid, that was one of my favorite questions to answer. The truth was, it changed constantly and I soon realized that all of my dream jobs were usually influenced heavily by the movies or TV shows I was watching.
If I saw "Jurassic Park" I wanted to be a paleontologist. If I saw "The Abyss" or a documentary by Jacques Cousteau, I wanted to be a marine biologist. In fact most of the things I wanted to be ended in "logist" but in school I found out I didn't enjoy doing the kind of studying and work that science required. I preferred daydreaming on story, characters, concept art and putting together the sequence of pictures that makes up a movie. I failed Algebra because I spent too much time doodling storyboards and comics in the margins of my notes.
Another inspiration came while skateboarding with friends in middle school. I often found myself holding the video camera to capture the tricks. Soon our skateboard films turned into short films. I joined the Media Tech program in my High School and felt most at home when shooting and editing short films. I decided this is all I wanted to do with my life and quite frankly I don't know what else I could do at this point.
From there I went to Film school at the University of Texas in Austin and concentrated in learning the fundamentals of every aspect of production and post. I learned as much as I could and eventually ended up on a cinematography path. A decade flew by and I found myself making a living directing and shooting commercials, product videos, documentaries and occasionally independent films in Austin, Texas. Around the time I turned 30 I decided that it was time to make my first feature film, and so I shot "TEJANO."
Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
David Blue Garcia: It's never a smooth road, but to be honest, I was probably my own biggest obstacle. It's sometimes hard finding the confidence to move forward with an idea, to push past that threshold from day dreaming to doing and making. I feel like I spend a lot of time procrastinating and toying with an idea before I'm able to commit it to film (or harddrive). That was probably the hardest part for me, was learning to turn away paid, commercial work to take a huge creative and financial risk by self funding my first feature film. But I'm glad I made the leap and would never turn back. I am lucky that my career has given me thousands of hours on set, working with a camera and actors and department heads so that I can get paid to practice and hone my craft. All of this set experience has been invaluable to me when I turn to Direct my personal work. I've learned by making mistakes and watching others make mistakes, and the idea was to get as many of those mistakes out of the way by the time I made my first film and it really helped.
Tell us about Conquistador. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for? What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
Conquistador is the company I run all of my jobs through as well as my film. We are a bit new as a production company and have turn-keyed some pretty cool commercials for clients including Firestone and Pollo Loco. Recently we got a call from an agency to produce a Pollo Loco commercial at the border wall between Texas and Mexico. The commercial was timed with the 2018 World Cup and was about a Mexican futbol team and a US futbol team meeting at the border wall to have a friendly game of pickup soccer, showing that "we share a border but we share so much more than that." It was great to produce a commercial back in my hometown on the border in South Texas and to work with creative that had a message that I believe in. Conquistador will continue to seek opportunities to tell positive messages through brands.
Who else deserves credit – have you had mentors, supporters, cheerleaders, advocates, clients or teammates that have played a big role in your success or the success of the business? If so – who are they and what role did they plan / how did they help?
It might be cowardly but I don't want to get into naming too many people for fear of leaving someone out. None of us live or grow up in a bubble and we all have dozens of positive influences and people who helped us. It's easy to cite my parents. They really did give me and my brother a great child hood and all the support you could ask for. When I told them that I wanted to be a filmmaker and go to film school at UT, they had their doubts about how I would make a living doing that. But they supported me nonetheless and never said anything negative about my choice. It also helped that my brother went into Aerospace Engineering which was a relief compared to my path.
What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
I pursue filmmaking only because it feels like the only thing I'm really qualified to do and the one characteristic that has helped me the most is that I think visually and cinematically-- in sequences of moving images, in story, in sound. I feel like this has always been my biggest strength -- how I can picture everything beforehand. I put together a scene in my head and watch the edit before I step foot on set. I can place an imaginary camera with any lens on it and know what it will look like without looking through the viewfinder. Part of that is experience, but it was also one of the easiest things for me to learn when I was starting out. The hardest part of filmmaking for me was learning how to translate those pictures into reality by working with a crew and actors. It's like trying to paint a portrait without being able to hold the brush. Instead, the brush is being held by 20 other people and you have to help coordinate their movements.
Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
In my 10 years or so in this industry I've seen a few changes already. It's just easier than ever to create content and even really high quality content whether its video or photo or any other image based content. The good news is-- it's easier for everyone. The bad news is -- it's easier for everyone. The proliferation of technology and the falling prices on powerful programs, cameras and equipment, the buy-in to this profession is lower. The challenge will continue to be finding ones place in the market, and finding the clients who most value your skill set. A lot of jobs are perfect for the shooter / editor "one man band" type, but there will always be rooms for bigger shops too for larger and more complex projects. But it definitely seems like one has to maintain a big social media presence to stay relative.
What role has luck (good luck or bad luck) played in your life and business?
There are many moments in my career that, I will admit, were very fortunate. One example was, early on, when I was still developing my career as a Cinematographer but was also still working as an editor. I edited a project that featured pre-controversy Lance Armstrong. I posted a rough cut of the video on my website and sent it to the Producer who then shared it with Lance. Lance loved it and threw the link up on his Twitter and the video, as well as my website, got hundreds of thousands of views that day. This helped my website stay on the first page of google search for "Austin cinematographers" for years. Sometimes it does seem that things happen by chance, by luck, but one has to also be sharp enough to recognize opportunity when it presents itself, or to put oneself in the path to intercept an opportunity.
What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
The proudest moment of my career so far was screening TEJANO, my first feature film, in front a sold out audience at the Dallas International Film Festival. That screening was the culmination of 5 years of hard work and I was able to share it with so many friends and family. It was fantastic to hear the audience reacting to the film and to have so many people with positive things to say afterwards. It was also great to share that moment with my parents, who 15 years earlier had sent me off to film school with a little trepidation of what awaited me. That screening is what awaited me, and hopefully many more.