Danny Hastings Founder/Festival Director Backs 100%
2nd Official Latino Short Film Festival
September 16-18, 2016, Harlem, New York City
86, 3-45-minute long films in 7 categories
$2,000.00: Best U.S. Official Latino Short Film
$1,000.00: Best International Official Latino Short Film
Can a highly active and successful Latino film director in New York City set his ego aside and curate other people’s work objectively? Yes he can and yes he does. It’s a greater calling that he feels should be inherent to other Latinos successful in the arts that their mantra should be to support Latino filmmakers – especially the next generation of storytellers and actors. Meet Danny Hastings, President of Atomicus Films who puts his money, literally where his mouth is. From covering the costs necessary to produce the Official Latino Short Film Festival and everything connected with its execution, to funding the filmmakers’ awards that validate their artistic expression. He dips into his own pocket and he has a family to support, to boot. I love our interview that switches back and forth from English to Spanish as he shares his passion for the craft of producing and directing, while cognizant of the vital need to support the backbone of what will truly leave its mark on our U.S. culture – forging opportunities for authentic Latino storytellers and actors in lead media and entertainment roles.
TíoLouie: I know you as a film director, writer, music video director and photographer, but what are you really?
Danny Hastings: I am a multimedia visual artist: director, writer, producer and photographer – whatever has to do with camera.
TíoLouie: As a visual content creator you really have a knack for making colors pop, what is your formula?
Danny: Foremost, color sets a mood for everything – for a scene to be cold or hot, a mood to be sad or happy. It all depends on what I want to communicate. I am a photographer. I love to manipulate the colors on set rather than in post. If I want a red, hot, steamy scene I put lighting to play. With colors you can create a lot of feelings. I tend to lean towards very saturated colors to get the emotions out of a scene and to complement, especially in non-narrative work, like a cover to a project or music video. Without color, life is dull and non-interesting – even thought black and white have colors. But I love edgy and to give that look. I have been doing it for so long that it’s not hard for me. I create like a painter.
TíoLouie: You have always been drawn to comedy and you had a film, THE LOVE POTION in the NY International Latino Film Festival in 2010 that went on to screen nationally on the Latino TV channels, MTV Tr3s and CineLatino, as well as all over South America. What is it about comedy that speaks to you?
Danny: I like to have a good time. I love to shoot with my peers when making comedy. Though some filmmakers cite Stanley Kubrick or Scorsese as their role models, I love Mel Brooks. Comedy filmmakers don’t get the credit they deserve. It’s harder to shoot comedy than drama. People will walk out of a bad comedy. I have a knack for it and work with comedy actors and bring out the best in them, and I give it a cinematic feel. It’s showcasing the elements of cinema while bringing out the comedic factor – all while respecting the cinematic aspects. My actor friends, in most of my films are comedic actors. I look up to Monty Python, Benny Hill, Cantinflas – who is my idol. But Mel Brooks is my favorite producer, writer, filmmaker – my everything. Maybe in the future I’ll make a drama. I am now developing a comedy called, Venus de Macho.
TíoLouie: So here you are making the transition from filmmaker to curator and exhibiting some of the best in our community with your 2nd Official Latino Short Film Festival. Why take this on?
Danny: #1 is because I love what I do and do what I love. There is not a single better feeling for an artist than to enjoy the fruits of their labor. I tell myself that we have to share this with our people. I want my Latino filmmakers to have this feeling, especially the young ones.
When I was 16-17, I had parents who did not understand what I was becoming. I was becoming an artist. My peers were going into professional careers as professors, engineers, doctors. I always had a camera. My mother always said that I would die of hunger. In Panama when I was graduating from high school, I said I wanted to come to the U.S.A. and become a cinematographer. Young Latino filmmakers and actors have a real hard time jumping into the career they love due to the lack of support and resources out there. I have always heard our Latino families saying, Get yourself a backup career to support your art. This is why I created this film festival.
We are awarding $3,000 in prizes and this is basically coming out of my pocket to support these artists. It’s about creating an economic support for Latino filmmakers in the USA. You have few outlets to fund your project. From Latin American countries like Colombia, Argentina and Mexico, films that we will feature, you see this at the very opening of their films that their governments are supporting and we don’t have that in the USA. What I am hoping that this will translate into is that years from now there are sponsors who are providing more money. If our young people are not attaining some success by 22 or 24 – after years of working, they lose their motivation. If we could just give them $5K, it motivates them to continue their craft and we lose as a culture and community when they don’t. We need to figure this out. It’s not just mentoring – it’s about funding. Because I know, speaking for myself, any money I make goes right back into my work. We need to work together as a community and support one another. When selecting films for the Festival, we also ensure that the lead actor in these submissions is Latino. That’s one of our rules. Plus a lead person behind the production has to be Latino. We screened 500 films. That means 500 Latino filmmakers.
Check out the awesome short film in competition HERE
TíoLouie: In doling out $0.10 worth of advice to our community, what would you say to a filmmaker as to when is the right time to submit to a festival and when is not?
Danny: At the end of the day it’s a matter of opinion. Art is subjective. Before thinking when is the right time to submit, make sure you are finished. A lot of people are quick to send it out. Never send something to a film festival that is not finished. Make sure the sound is mixed well, that it’s not the final cut – no film festival will program it. It’s better for the following year’s calendar. Nobody is going to take a risk with something that is less than very good. If you’re a true artist, don’t submit something unless it’s complete. If you have finished something and you have already moved onto the next project, then you’re ready. But if you’re racing to finish a film to meet a film festival’s submissions deadline – that’s a deadline, not a finished film.
For more information on the 2nd Official Latino Short Film Festival CLICK HERE
@TIO LOUIE/Louis E. Perego Moreno Louis E. Perego Moreno/@TioLouie Founder & Executive Producer of PRIME LATINO MEDIA, the largest East Coast network of Latino multimedia-makers, actors and musicians in bilingual Latino and mainstream media, digital and entertainment. An interactive Content/Impact Producer and Educator who for the past 34 years has owned Skyline Features, a bilingual multimedia and educational production company developing documentaries, television programming and advertising commercials featuring Latinos, Blacks, Women, Urban Youth and LGBT.
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