Pride Month 2020
For Pride Month The New Current is launching our new series of features with LGBTQ+ creatives across the arts. We talk with Anthony Aguiar, an award-winning filmmaker, who has recently released his debut micro How to Grow a Tiger Lily (2019) on Amazon Prime & on his YouTube Channel.
Hi Anthony thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during the lockdown?
It’s been alright, mostly trying to find something interesting to work on.
Is this time offering you with creative inspiration?
Yes actually, I made and released an experimental art short, doing animation for a local artist called inkiBLOO I don’t think I would have attempted to do something like that if it wasn’t for this whole situation.
Was filmmaking something you had always had a passion for?
Yes always, it started out wanting to be an actor until discovering making films/ behind the scenes stuff, was really what I loved more.
How did you get into filmmaking?
So just wanting to be an actor in elementary school lead me to discovering my parents video camera and It just took off like wild fire after that. The freedom of possibilities that filmmaking could bring, really came over me like a wave. And also, I’ve always just loved films. It was really those two things coming together.
What was your experience making your debut short film?
I don’t know if I would consider that my debut short film because I had been making shorts as long as I can remember but I guess in terms of that film being the first one that got into festivals, makes it official. That was rewarding to have some sort of validation that the work was worthy of being shown at a festival.
How would you say your style has evolved since your student film p o s t h u m o u s?
I hope it has, tremendously, I think that short film is super dialogue heavy which no longer interests me now. Dialogue is my least favorite aspect or filmmaking tool, I feel that short was really me experimenting. Also, a later short film I made CYPRESS (2014) was maybe a reaction to Posthumous, by instead trying to tell a story minimally. CYPRESS was also an evolution by also trying to be more personal and open about myself.
I’m so happy many people have responded favourable to that one.
"Doing the audio, camera technical aspects while simultaneously dealing with the overall scene at hand."
p o s t h u m o u s won Best Horror Film: Las Positas Film Festival (2013) did you expect you would the this type of recognition for this film?
No, it’s always a surprise to win an award, especially since, up until that point my amateur attempts of getting into festivals were futile. So to not only get into the LPC film festival but to win an award was really gratifying.
Your debut micro feature How to Grow a Tiger Lily is now available on Amazon Prime, what was the inspiration behind this film?
Since I started making short films, the biggest mountain I had always put in front of me was to make a feature film. I had spoken to countless other filmmakers who also felt the same way, but for one reason or another, they never actually completed it. So my challenge was to use the simplistic techniques I had learned making my short films - which was using very limited crew or no crew at all - doing most of the technical work myself - and make a feature that way. I was inspired by documentary filmmaking and of course the dogme 95 movement.
Can you tell me a little bit about your process of making How to Grow a Tiger Lily?
Yeah, overall I spent about 5 years just trying to get it made. That includes, writing, casting, filming, editing etc. It was such an arduous process. Especially getting actors to climb on board for my unconventional documentary approach to making fictional films. The casting was the hardest part, mostly because it required a certain type of actor having a skill to do improvised dialogue from my written outline.
What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?
Definitely the casting. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it whenever I’m asked but it was finding the lead actress Mandy Brown that enabled me to keep this film alive. It was not only her talent but her similar determination to have this project finished. If an actor dropped out or was unavailable she was always there encouraging me to film something that just required the two of us. And of course, I would be remiss to not thank all the other actors and my two friends, who came on for a handful of days. They were super important. I’ll always love them for taking a chance on me.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently on How to Grow a Tiger Lily?
Of course, all the time but I’m trying to live in a state of mind that the film I release should be a time capsule of what I was happy with at the time. Although that feeling hasn’t stopped me from trying to tinker with it multiple times even after we had our premiere. I’ve official stepped away from it now. We shall see haha.
As well as writer and director your films you have also edited and served as Cinematographer, does taking on these extra responsibilities add any pressure on you?
Yes and no, the only pressure I feel sometimes is just in the moment of making the film. Like trying to juggle multiple things at once. Doing the audio, camera technical aspects while simultaneously dealing with the overall scene at hand. I do ultimately feel it is liberating because I’m actually getting what I want, it feels more personal to me. Like when you see the handheld camera shaking, it’s my hands that are moving it, similar to when you see a sculpture and know it was the artists hands who touched the clay. I’ve always tried and will keep trying to get filmmaking closer to that same freedom an artist has with a brush. Technology is making that dream easier everyday.
The last thought I had on this, is that editing for me is the opposite of pressure, I love it the most and I labor through the writing/filming just so I can get to the reward of editing.
Does being so involved and connected in this way to your films make it harder for you to let go and hand them over to audiences?
Yes totally! But I think it be equally hard for another filmmaker with a more conventional collaborative work ethic.
The reason being, the director usually takes the blame if something on the film is badly received.
Do you have any advice you would offer an emerging filmmaker?
Yes, don’t listen to other filmmakers or anyone who tells you that you have to make films in a certain way. It’s total BS.
Nobody will care if you had a crew of two or two hundred people as long as your film ultimately connects with an audience on some level. Make films the way you want and don’t apologise for it.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on writing and ideas, possibly more shorts and features.
Hopefully the world will get back to normal so filmmakers can start telling their stories again.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from How to Grow a Tiger Lily?
I hope someone who is also LGBT will watch the film and feel less alone, like maybe they will see themselves in the Lily character and suddenly realize their situation is not isolated and that there might be a way out of feeling trapped and lonely.