Today we’d like to introduce you to Antonio Chavez Trejo.
Antonio, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am originally from Mexico City, born and raised. Films have always been my passion. Still as any other teenager when I had the world open with hundreds of options and needed to choose a career, I hesitated and had no idea what to go for.
I heard over and over I was gonna starve to death if I wanted to be a filmmaker; you must understand that in the 90’s being a filmmaker in Mexico was not as glamorous as today; there was not a massive international recognition both of the critic and the box office towards Mexican filmmakers. During the summer of 1999, I got my first job working at Blockbuster. One can say I started in the entertainment business all the way at the bottom and certainly I did.
Being there close to thousands of amazing films was nothing less than inspiring and used to fill me up with envy since I wanted to make movies like the ones we rented. So when the opportunity finally knocked at the door and I got to choose my bachelors I chose to be an Electrical Engineer. Ha.
I thought by becoming an engineer I would be able to create my own cameras and gears to make films later on. When I started adding up all the years I was gonna need to actually achieve everything I wanted, that was the moment when I made the decision to quit engineer school and move towards my main goal — making movies. Finally after a couple of detours (a second one being tempted by the medical field actually), I made it and went to study a Bachelor’s degree in Science of Communication. It was the best possibility for my family not to keep worrying about me dying of hunger by “just being a filmmaker”, and in retrospective the best choice I could’ve made.
My path was laid out, and I loved every second of my education and was fortunate enough to meet during my years in the Communication Academy, the person who would become my mentor. Academy Award Nominee Guillermo Arriaga Jordan (21 Grams, Babel); it was thanks to him that I got to be on my first professional set ever and be part and witness of the making of “The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada” directed by Tommy Lee Jones. On a funny note, during this production once I took Tommy Lee Jones chair by mistake during a screening with all cast and crew, a beautiful embarrassing moment in my filmmaking life.
This trip to Sausalito, Texas was the eye opener and final confirmation for me to say “This is where I belong.” I had a couple of the most amazing filmmaking lectures (if one can call them that since it was just casual chit chat during off times) one by Producer Michael Fitzgerald and the second one my the lead hairdresser Jeri Baker at a random call time at 5 a.m. in her trailer as she was getting the actor Barry Pepper. Ms. Baker show us every little detail she explored to make sense of the hairstyles of each character based on their own internal world and personal life.
This is the first time I fully got to appreciate how much a film is nourished by the ideas of everyone on set and not a single stream of thoughts by a lonely director. Watching also Mr Jones ability to both direct and star a movie of this caliber was quite an eye-opener on the skills needed for this purpose which I couldn’t fully appreciate back then, I still had a long path to walk.
By the time I graduated I had already written, directed and produced over half a dozen of short films which I manage to pull thanks to the enormous patience of my friends and family who were always there to support my crazy ideas and even act when required. This was a different era where internet was still not the powerful tool it is today, so this short films went nowhere except one local film festival. I was just fresh out of college, and I have never really tasted a real audience.
I got my first job as a TV director and producer and then created a couple of unsuccessful startups with a couple friends. Twice we failed and I learned from each failure. After a while, I decided to go by myself this time and create my own company. Carta Entretenimiento. An event production company who I operated from 2009 until December 2011.
On May of 2011, for various reasons I found my way back to production while attempting to find a Master Degree. It was then when I decided to go back full on Film Production and I was offered a chance to apply for a scholarship at the New York Film Academy. The idea of coming to Los Angeles (The epicenter of filmmaking itself) to relearn how to make films and get acquainted with the rhythm and language of production in Hollywood was exciting. I had no idea how I was going to make it happen, I had no extra savings to do so, and I realized it was gonna be amazingly expensive. This is the turning point in my life where every part of my logical being was saying no. But my spirit said yes.
Luckily for me, I have a couple of guardian angels who always supports, pushed me beyond and kept me focus; most importantly they remind me (and still do constantly) this is the path I have always wanted, and it’s the place I belong to.
I moved to Los Angeles on January 11th 2012, with just a few days paid forward on a cheap hotel in Hollywood, no idea where I would live after that and had to attend classes already on the morning of the 12th. I was so freaking excited nothing would ever bring me down. I found a place to live where I ended up meeting one of the best friends of my life who sadly passed away in 2015. I mention him on this because it was thanks to him that I learned one of the best skills one can learn as a filmmaker and as human. Patience.
My Master Degree as a Master of Fine Arts in Filmmaking was a 2-year program, and as a 30-year-old man, I felt like I was hitting the reset button on every aspect of my life. I was eager to network and make things happen. I was rushing and trying too hard on every project and film. I was working hard and always trying to stay at the top of my generation. I’m sure I managed to annoy some people because of this (even though I was always respectful), but I was not there to play or chill.
I sacrificed every aspect of my life economically and emotionally to come and do my best and to be the best; no one would stop me from that. During this time, I was invited to work with Supersonix Media Inc. and later on became their Director of Production and Creative Services.
From 2014 up to present time, I have mainly worked with Supersonix Media on numerous projects with many amazing talents that the company handles in the PR section, but I have worked on many projects of all different categories including but not limited to feature films, tv shows, music videos, short films, corporate videos, press releases, red carpet coverage, and web series. I have won quite a few awards and being nominated in dozens of films festivals around the world, having with each film an exponential growth.
The first film ever I sent to a film festival was “Killer Tango” who was premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2014, and again I premiered in Cannes a second film in 2015 called “Bloody Luck,” this film went to four more festivals and gave us two more awards. Then in 2017, I released “MIRA Protocol” who just finished it’s film festival circuit and received over 20 nominations in three continents in a dozen film festivals. This dystopian film got five awards and got me recognition from the California Legislature to me as “Best Filmmaker in Burbank” in 2017.
Early in 2018, I had the opportunity to direct my first professional music video “No Me Arrepiento” starring Argentinean singer Soleil J, famous actor Luiz Guzman and produced by the Grammy Winner Maffio and the CEO of VIVA Live TV. It can be seen on YouTube on the official channel of the artist.
We are on the verge of getting distribution in the US for the first feature film I co-directed “El Freeman” who has also started going through festivals and earned already a few awards.
I have always loved the ability to embrace several aspects to better understand the whole of anything. When it comes to filmmaking I like to consider myself a full on filmmaker since I have always devoted myself to different aspects of it mainly directing, writing, producing, editing, cinematography, camera operator and stunts. My knowledge and technical abilities in most areas of the production has allowed me to feel equally confident with a large crew of 70 people or working with a minimal crew of just three. The later actually has been needed sometimes, and there are even a few projects where I have had to perform several roles at the same time.
I have become proficient as well in shooting and producing action projects and recently on May of 2018 I was hired by LIVE Nation to perform live in a 2000 seat theatre at Riverside California during a Star Wars Festival on May the 4th. I got to play Old Luke Skywalker and fulfill my long live dream of becoming a Jedi.
I just wrapped a new experimental project called “Résilience,” which will have a theatrical release in France in 2019 and just started it’s festival circuit . This is a very powerful film which touches the delicate subject of depression and suicidal thoughts in a very uplifting and positive way while addressing the reality of the constant presence of that darkness behind the people who suffer from it. I’m confident this film will also grow exponentially while traveling around the world’s film festivals.
Currently, I’m done developing a feature film code name “Back to one” which I have the intention to push through on 2019 as well as an immersive show called “Howlers” which is a one of a kind project which mixes traditional filmmaking, immersive theatre, and 360º environments. This is a horror show, and it is created under a new narrative structure which I developed called “Tholous” in order to find a new way to develop compelling dramatic stories that work seamlessly with new technologies including virtual and augmented reality, 360º, and immersive technology.
Has it been a smooth road?
Has it been a smooth road? I hope not. I always answer when someone comes at me asking for advice, sad or depressed because things are getting though: We don’t do what we do because it’s easy, we do it because it’s impossible, we do it because no one else can, and one must be passionate in order to achieve the impossible. I live by this.
I like to believe that even though anyone can grab a camera these days and even cut full a film on their phones, just a handful would have the knowledge, skills, and vision to be up to the challenge and quality of what experience and education can give. Competition is tough but isn’t it the same on every other industry?
Do I have extra challenges? Maybe, but I think we all think we have the world against us in one way or another. I rather use those challenges as a positive inspiration to achieve more. In my case, one of the biggest challenges is the fact that I’m a foreigner in a country that has very strict immigration laws. In my case being a filmmaker was a hard legal thing to win and get, not to mention an exhausting, time consuming and expensive process.
I have been asked about my Latin background and if I ever felt pushed aside because of this. I have heard of this happening to many people from all different countries. I have never felt that. I actually dislike being considered a latin or Mexican filmmaker. I have to say it, and some people might hate this, but this is how I think; I just want to be known as a filmmaker. Yes, I was born in Mexico, and I’m proud of it; it’s a beautiful amazing country and I couldn’t be more proud of my background, and yes I have a Latin culture behind me. But I am not bind by neither on my art and work.
I have never submitted to an all latin film festival because of this, not saying that I wouldn’t do it ever, but I want to win on the international realm, I love the international competition. I love thinking of the world as a single unit, as one kind, the mankind. I like to think that this is the way we finally can merge our cultures and integrate all the beautiful aspects of each culture to evolve as society.
Now when asking about a smooth or bumpy road I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to money. The biggest hustle in this town is money. That’s why I have always tried to pair myself up with amazing producers which have that kind of intuitive way on attracting investors. I can put together amazing projects which have realistic and great economical potential. One thing I have learned since my very beginning one cannot do it all (sometimes is possible but better not if it can be avoided).
Do I expect for things to get easier as I keep growing in my career? I hope not! Where’s the fun in that. If things are getting easier for me, that means they will get easier for a lot of more people, and I fear the quality of production will be affected if that happens. Challenges are good for the creative spirit, and they should always be there; independent films are a living proof of that.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Supersonix Media story. Tell us more about the business.
As a proud member of Supersonix Media, I love that we can do it all. We are a full 360º media and entertainment company strong focused on PR and Marketing with a big emphasis on production which is where I come in. I specialize in all type of audiovisual production for projects which can go from a simple interview or a press junket up to a full feature film.
We don’t only work for and with our clients, but we have slowly been pushing through and increasing the production within our ranks. Even in my independent projects, Supersonix Media has been an amazing supporter and the liaison between press and us to get the best exposure possible no matter what type of project.
What sets us apart from other companies are two things mainly; first of all our team, each of the members of Supersonix Media has an amazing background interconnected with the entertainment industry and when I say interconnected I really mean it. Have you ever played 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon? I’m pretty confident our network is up to the pair with this game or better. The second thing is the human touch.
One thing that the clients of Supersonix Media love is how we pamper them. They are not only a number and just another business. We become close to them and care about their lives and even why not, friends. The Supersonix Media family keeps growing, and I can tell you, on any event when I see any of our clients I always get happy and greet them with a smile because is so good to see them and we want for them nothing more than lots of success, and they know it, it always feels like a mutual thing.
That’s why our clients remain loyal, and we keep getting recommended as we have grown non-stop. Production-wise more and more we are focusing on a bigger picture which I cannot reveal a lot since we have a gigantic project at hand. I can just say that we are about to explore a part of Hollywood which has not been explored before.
How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
I have a theory that every artist I have ever admired has three projects which pushed them from unknown artist to massive success. This thought is the reason why one of my biggest bets are with 360º environment technologies.
For over two years, I did research on every project and technology I could learn and get my hands on, anything from 3D, virtual reality, augmented reality and 360º tech. I kept wondering why all this technology keeps coming up, but there was virtually no outstanding content which turned out to be a massive success economically speaking. It is though to create a dramatic experience as we know on traditional media and translate it for those type of technologies.
After months and months of analysis, I started developing a narrative theory which I called “Tholous.” With this theory, I found a perfect way to create compelling stories as the ones we are used to and keeping all the freedom and possibilities that we get from using the new tech. My project “Howlers” is the first project I wrote, and it’s currently under development, and it has at a certain moment 18 characters speaking at the same time without it being a problem and allowing for the audience to follow any chosen circumstance without getting lost or missing any relevant bit.
I’m sure we will always have traditional two dimensional films and television shows to enjoy and be passionate about but I’m also certain these 360º environments are the way of the future in more ways than the ones we are anticipating and this is the time to invest and be the precursors of a whole new generation of content creators.
- Website: www.supersonixmedia.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/supersonix-media-burbank