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Meet Andres Zapata of Andresshotthis in Santa Monica/Venice

Today we’d like to introduce you to Andres Zapata.

Andres, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Thank you for having me, I appreciate this opportunity. I love what you are accomplishing as a brand at VoyageLA and what you all provide for your readers. My journey started during pre-adolescence when poetry became that fictional rhythm I could produce that brought satisfaction and peace of mind. From Inglewood & Venice Beach in ‘93, to moving to Costa Rica in ‘05, and back into the City of Angels in ‘09, I increasingly fell in love with storytelling. Being in Los Angeles, I couldn’t help but notice the impact of movies influence the city’s culture, and subsequently my early childhood development.

My perpetual fulfillment with the arts flooded my interests, and my poems became short stories, my short stories became screenplays. Fortunately, Santa Monica High School offers a film course that lead me to my first role as a director of my first short film. I also befriended the theatre director of my high school, Mr. Darryl B. Hovis, and he allowed me to shadow his lead as a teacher’s assistant. This freedom to be able to study the fundamentals of working with actors is what founded me as a director.

Then off to college I went to major in filmmaking, and decided to work at a movie theatre to understand the popcorn business. I diligently kept writing short films for myself and other filmmakers until I could afford my first camera. This moment is when I fell in love with photography and added this skill to my arsenal.

Two years later, I was 22 years old, working on small budget productions during my senior year in San Francisco, and one of my short films was invited to the 69th Cannes Film Festival. This honorable recognition opens so many doors for me and has kept me believing in my story to continue filmmaking. Fast forward five years later, the world is dealt with the Covid-19 pandemic, and I’ve chosen to continue creating during quarantine by returning to feature length screenwriting. I feel grateful to share short stories but my goals now are to entertain global audiences with my creative potential. Most people know me as a photographer because it allows me to pay bills and stay sane, but hopefully sometime soon, I can enter the major leagues and create with the elite production studios in Los Angeles.

Has it been a smooth road?
My struggles can be cumbersome, but I am grateful for my immigrant grandparents that looked after me when my parents chose to live their own separate lives. We weren’t well off and couldn’t afford luxuries, but they did the best job in giving me a chance to succeed on my own.

Whether it was the constant questions of “Where is my dad?”, or “What do you mean my mom is an addict?”, I maneuvered through these challenging circumstances and found my share of joy along the way. At times it became difficult being an only child and only grandchild, always striving to make friends so I could feel human connection. I battled with my own character, moving from school to school, city to city, country to country, restarting from scratch to fit in new environments. I still don’t know the answer to it all, but I know that these difficulties and questions I had to navigate through have helped me achieve greater moments.

Up until now, I know that the college nights I fell asleep hungry, the skin disease I had to endure, and the absence of altruism I had to experience made me who I am today. I believe rejection molds people to conquer their fears and take the dark road less traveled. Hopefully, these obstacles and my story allow me to inspire others to be their own light when the darkness becomes their only companion.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
What sets me and my work ethic apart from others is my ability to lead with kindness, compassion, and empathy. I feel like anytime I hear the words: captain, director, leader, I step forth and rise to the occasion. I know that I possess the equanimity to set the pace with production and champion a happy cast & crew. My character is multidimensional and so is my experience, so whatever the situation may be, I’m ready to address what needs to be achieved in order to make ends possible.

Although I specialize in photography because it is what I mostly offer to my community, the network I’ve built for myself nurtures every aspect of my skill set. I have been gifted with thoughtful listening and effective communication, which I believe has given me chances to work with popular brands and at major events like Paris Fashion Week in 2019, for example.

When the opportunity arises for me to sit down with studios, I will pitch my ideas regarding a social justice world based around characters battling for positive change on every continent. I wholeheartedly believe there are devastating scenarios that have yet been shown to global audiences, and it’s my current mission as a storyteller to continue outlining magically historical adventures for audiences to embark on.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. I believe there are emerging film hubs such as Atlanta and Vancouver, but LA will always have Hollywood. If someone is starting, I would recommend they go where they’re happy. Too often do I see out-of-towners complain about the city and it’s making them miserable being here. I don’t like to use the trope of “don’t like it, then leave”, because it doesn’t truly provide a welcoming solution. Start wherever you have the opportunity to do so, and if Los Angeles happens to be that place then take full advantage of the environment. Los Angeles provides so many resources for creatives so to knock it for lacking opportunity would be halfwitted.

The trouble I have is finding representation for an emerging director like myself. I mentioned I wanted to create with the major studios, but getting their attention generally stems from the talent agencies (WME, CAA, ICM, UTA, Paradigm, TGA) that filter and taste-make. Being signed to an agency of that standard has become strenuous even with a franchise written in hand. Academy Award winning filmmaker, Guillermo Del Toro, once suggested to storytellers, “This is a door. Kick it open, and come in.” So as much as I patiently believe this to be possible, I will continue to search for doors that’ll open when I kick.

We are saturated with really bad ideas that pour out like Starbucks coffee, so the tastemakers have a right to provide you a five page read before being greenlit or rejected. One thing I could voice to the agents and executives in power is that there is a lot more homegrown flair that could be realized. The potential within a Los Angeleno is remarkable and should not go unaccomplished.

Contact Info:

  • Email: andresshotthis@gmail.com
  • Instagram: andresshotthis
  • Twitter: andresshotthis
  • Other: Tik Tok: andresshotthis

Image Credit:
Eric Cuenin @kiffkafe, Vikram Valluri @vikramvalluri, Joseph C. Walsh @tmesisfc, Bailey Gray LaLonde @baileylalonde_

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