Q&A With Hispanicize Founder Manny Ruiz and Calixto Chinchilla on the Exciting Vision for This year Event
Hispanicize 2014 (www.HispanicizeEvent.com), the nation’s largest gathering of Latino influencers in blogging, journalism, film, marketing, music and tech is now right around the corner April 1-4, 2014. The 5th anniversary edition is expected to bring more than 1,700 attendees and for the third year in a row will feature a Latino Film Showcase directed by Calixto Chinchilla, founder and emeritus executive director of the New York International Latino Film Festival.
We recently sat down with Hispanicize event founder Manny Ruiz and Calixto to learn what’s in store for Latino filmmakers at Hispanicize 2014.
What is Calixto’s role in this edition of Hispanicize?
Manny: Having Calixto lead our U.S. Latino Film Showcase is a great privilege because he is the biggest advocate I know for Latino filmmakers and he’s got an incredible track record of pioneering the space of film festivals and Hispanic entertainment in general. We couldn’t be more pleased to work with him because he’s laying down a strong foundation for the evolution of U.S. Latino film at Hispanicize.
Calixto: I want everyone to know that this coming year will be special. The Hispanicize team and I are working at breakneck speed to build a stronger, more effective and memorable Hispanicize event in 2014.
How has the film portion of Hispanicize evolved?
Calixto: What has evolved is our vision of how to better integrate the film showcase into Hispanicize. We’re pruning the program to strengthen it for the future by taking what worked in last year’s event and enhancing it. As the largest conference for marketers, bloggers, journalists and influentials, we want to create a stronger synergy between what’s great about Hispanicize and tie it with film. We are improving at every level from our panels to music events. So, instead of having just film exclusive forums and possibly limiting the audience, you can expect more multifaceted forums that better connect marketers and brands to the world of film.
Manny: One of the biggest things the rest of the Hispanicize event will inject into the film showcase is the synergy Calixto is alluding to. A perfect example of that is our new partnership with the Latino Startup Alliance because we’re going to provide in-depth sessions on the business of financing film projects, accessing capital and marketing that if attended by filmmakers will help them tremendously.
How will you showcase actual films at Hispanicize 2014?
Calixto: We’re going to showcase feature films and short films in a more strategic and integrated way. For example, this year, the first day of the event will be a major, event-wide event that will not only be created in partnership with the Miami International Film Festival (MIFF) but will also not compete with any other program or activity at Hispanicize 2014. We had a very successful red carpet opening for Filly Brown with MIFF at Hispanicize 2013 so we know the results will be even greater in 2014 because this will be a focal point event in partnership with MIFF and it will take place at one of Miami’s premier movie theaters.
Manny: The bottom line is that whichever film gets that major red carpet film night is going to have a massive splash because we’re guaranteeing massive media and social media coverage for that film and its stars. We have been doing film for three years at Hispanicize and we’ve had some tough lessons along the way that we’ve taken to heart on how to vastly improve everything about how our media and social media machine can work in favor of our filmmakers.
Outside of the red carpet night, what else are you doing with feature films and short films?
Calixto: We’re finalizing how many other feature films will be part of this year’s event but what I can tell you is that we will have fewer feature film slots in order to better focus resources and media on those films. In terms of short films by Latino filmmakers, we will be giving them prominent space inside the event hotel with a dedicated theater room to see the films selected in a looping fashion all four days of the event. We’re going to curate the shorts for a total run time of approximately 2 hours but attendees will be able to come and go as they please.
Manny: We are passionate about film because this is my true personal passion so for all of you filmmakers who are reading this story just know that Hispanicize 2014, and Hispanicize the social media platform in general – is deeply committed to helping you be successful. We’re no fools and it’s not because we’re purely altruistic about doing this either. We know that if we can help you be successful, we will be successful as we ourselves delve more into film.
What will be the focus of the film panels this year?
Calixto: We’ll be announcing these soon but one can expect forums – film and others – that better connect the worlds of marketing, finance and brands. For example, we will delve into the use of social media for crowd funding and marketing of films specifically. We will also explore how to tap into influential bloggers to build effective word of mouth strategies that best reach Latino film audiences. As Latinos are the largest segment of moviegoers in the country, more marketers are looking for ways to integrate their brands in film, as well as share learning’s in reaching this elusive audience.
Manny: Every single day of this intense four-day event will have something to offer filmmakers in terms of content that helps them drive the business and marketing side of their artistic endeavors. We believe the artistic part is important and we will address parts of that but Hispanicize is about helping Latino filmmakers connecting the business, marketing and digital dots because we can do that with excellence.
How will you provide more marketing and visibility muscle to the films and filmmakers at the event?
Calixto: That’s a big part of what the Hispanicize event platform is about. A filmmaker can expect a premier platform that not only speaks to them as filmmakers but also connects them with influencers from various sectors from social media, brands, music, journalists, and film. What Hispanicize creates is a unique networking opportunity that filmmakers typically won’t find at a film festival.
Manny: To add to what Calixto said, we are the largest and only multi-industry gathering of Latino content creators. Period. That is a huge advantage the Hispanicize event and something we will tenaciously build on. Beyond that, we have a lot more experience in learning how to create visibility for our filmmakers by leveraging the power of our media and social media partnerships and alliances. One of the most important tools, for example, that we created in time for Hispanicize 2014 this year is the launch of Hispanicize Wire (www.HispanicizeWire.com). Hispanicize Wire is an incredible press release, multimedia and social media distribution platform that is extremely affordable and that we believe all filmmakers trying to reach U.S. Hispanics will use to promote their projects. Hispanicize Wire itself is configured for this and will be widely used at the event and beyond it because it was created with Latino filmmakers in mind.
Is there anything filmmakers can do to get their films in your radar for Hispanicize 2014?
Calixto: The great news is that we’re not charging for any submissions this year. If anyone has a film project that they want to submit for consideration – feature or short – they can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a private link to your project, a trailer as well as a synopsis. We’re looking at films from now through January 31st and will be announcing our film slate by early to mid February. We have a strong prefence for films that are produced, directed or acted by U.S. Latino filmmakers, which is our niche focus.
Manny: Any film that is selected, be they a feature or short film, will be heavily publicized starting with our Hispanicize Wire platform and continuing with specific entertainment and film media we are guaranteeing in 2014 will be at the event for this. Obviously not everyone will garner the same attention as others but we think the eco system we’ve developed will be much stronger from the insights and experience we’ve had in doing film at Hispanicize for three years.