Life is exactly as hard as you try, the harder you try, the harder it gets. I believe that it’s natural, in the strictest meaning of the word, that every human has his or her own thrust. But, however natural, it is also natural that we all have the possibility to choose wether to follow and even pursuit those thrusts, or let them fall deep and echo down there, perhaps to their final disappearance, sometimes causing everlasting havoc. Happiness, granting such a state is even real, must be in the present as good as it gets, a problem of every present. He who doesn’t know how to be happy today, must learn along the way to his future, and he’ll have many presents to try. Don’t we all. It’s not about how complicated our life is or becomes: many times, just wondering about happiness expels happiness… But that may be just my little experience. Let life be very complicated if it must, happiness is a moment if it’s anything.
When we become adults, we start receiving responsibilities, on one hand. The first one is taking, finally, total care of ourselves. On the other hand, we start creating responsibilities with our own living, and then, some of us, start creating also ambitions, desires, anguishes, and whatever-let’s-call-it-plans, and take away all the dramatics, which are most usually overreactions. Our personal miseries and struggles, coming already from the aching ages in which we were building ourselves or being built, because both happen, can conceal our ability to breath and smile. It seems like most of us forget how to play, how to imagine, how to get lost in time and space, how to hug your dearest and literally watch monsters and demons go back to their dark corners. Wouldn’t life be so much happier if I ran to the door every time my father is arriving home, abandoning absolutely whatever it were, as I did when I was a little child? Of course, the word “father” isn’t but an example, although it is a real image. Let’s put in “father” your loved one, and run the image. For me, life should be a way back to the children we were, plus, of course, all the enrichment we are supposed to have brought into us. By the way, my family have a dog now, and the dog can feel my father coming from the street, so he starts getting anxious, and runs to the door. When the door opens, the dog jumps to my father’s knees… And I can see how happy my dad is every time this happens. Not because he loves that dog -he actually doesn’t even like him too much-, but because I’m sure he remembers when it was their little children who would come running to kiss him. And he’s had five children. Only one of them is in his house now, the little one, and she is at that age where she wouldn’t always go to the door… She usually does, very happily. When she hasn’t, my dad start missing her, and would ask my mother for her.
I arrived in Los Angeles for the first time of my life on September 26, 2015. On October 26, my intensive short program in Filmmaking at The New York Film Academy would begin. I set foot in Los Angeles… No. I set heart in Los Angeles not as one more dreamer who would expect magical sunlight raining from the future. During those eight weeks of my program, I was the same child whose only existence was based on playing in the beach with his family or friends. Literally. I had felt that before some times, for instance during the film I made that previous summer, or sometimes when I used to write, (before I had to make the so disheartening decision of stop writing for a period that lasted over four years, due to some personal circumstances of that time). But those eight weeks, those days were pure joy. Of course, I believe difficulties and even suffering don’t exclude joy, it is joy, or its cause, who embrace them and tinge them. Coming from where I was coming, that is very, very hard times, with perhaps more worries than I could carry, the time at nyfa was exactly a playground. Oh, I learned. I worked. I studied. I lived it . I added so much to myself! From the people I met, the experiences I had, the knowledge I got. I squeezed every bit of it. I’m not talking about my brain, obviously, because although that would be very important, and I did enlarge it, I would have missed the point. I’m talking about my self.
It truly is an intensive program, and it won’t leave us much spare time, but I didn’t miss it, naturally. There was a lot of work, stress, long hours, late nights. I would sleep just for three hours maximum many days. But that’s me being me. Of course, not everybody could breathe this rhythm. Most students crumbled, and diminished their efforts, they relaxed and stopped attending classes, worked less and with less enthusiasm, lost interest in some ways and matters. Not me. I loved it, and I loved that rhythm. It made me stronger too. I realized I could follow the pace better than most, so I became a good source of relief for many of my partners. And I also tried to bring my fellows with me, I wouldn’t keep anything for me, because I think we ought to sustain and push each other, specially in our situations. I made very good friends.
So, I didn’t set heart in Los Angeles as one more dreamer. I set heart in Los Angeles to just be me, to advance in my way back to the child I was. What we are and what we do are in an essential correlation. I would never dare to call myself an artist, because I have a sacred respect for art and artists, and because I believe that artists are so by nature, and they didn’t choose it, and they’re “condemned” to be so, -so to speak, and so many times truly!-. An artist can’t be anything but an artist. I have been called “artist” many times along my life, and I was called “artist” many times in LA, but, as I said, I wouldn’t call myself so, and it was very difficult for me admitting that I was. I had to admit it to myself, though. Or forever say that I was not an artist… It was difficult, it is difficult precisely because it’s difficult to assume one’s nature and to recognize one’s identity. Specially, since I knew being an artist would suppose struggles and difficulties without count. So, I wouldn’t admit it to myself until I had enough courage to take the decision and follow my inner thrusts. Yes, life is as hard as you try, and a life of creation has no limits of its own, which only makes it more tragic, in the sense of a Greek Tragedy, this is, the struggles and wrestling of a hero against his given nature and the ocean of the world, knowing with absolute certainty that he will die in his quest.
Then, that is Filmmaking for me. Once I confessed, I had to be brave. It’s nothing fancy. It’s quite painful, in fact. For now at least, but I know it’s a life long struggle. It’s got nothing to do with fame, vanity, coolness, or even with liking stories… When I’m on it, I play, I imagine, I get lost in time and space, just as the child I intend to be again. In my mind, once I had “really” become a Filmmaker, I will run again to the door to meet my father. I know this for a fact. And this is an act of happiness.
But as for today, I find myself almost everyday, as it has been my situation for many years now, at the edge of crying what countless people have cried, four words that can either encourage or destroy lives. The four words that give its beginning to Frank Capra’s autobiography: “I hate being poor.” For Capra, those words transformed his life, but he had to learn so much if his way! For many others, those words have caused nothing but destruction, misery. Because misery is allowing poverty to overcome and overrun what we are as humans. Sometimes people, always mid joking, -a joke I consider at least of irresponsable taste-, would ask me what do I need to be happy, and after saying that I have no idea -which is the fastest way of avoiding depression-, they would be disconcerted when I said “money”. Then, I simply explain that I need to make films to be happy, and money seems really the only issue in my way. I know that many would use it as an excuse, and many will call it an excuse. Anyway, I wouldn’t accept that would be my case. I won’t extend about this point directly, I’ll just assume readers are understanding people, and most importantly, compassionate. I don’t want money for me, I’ll give it to those who need it. Money, for me, is nothing but a right earned by work, which is, should be, the real universal currency. However, money is the price of liberty, unfortunately and tragically. I use to say that most people want to work for the money, while I want the money to work. That is because I’m talking about my life: what I am and what I do. I am just a servant…
There are artists by nature because it’s very easy for us all humans to get lost in our stupidities in the course of the day and of a life. The work of art is a reminding of what humans truly are, an affirmation of our dignity, a call for self transcendence, an encounter with Beauty, a finding into our consciences. Artists are meant to elevate their fellows, to help them. They have that responsibility. And it is a capital responsibility. However, as it is mainly a spiritual reality -I’m not talking specifically about religion, but about the invisible world, the biggest actual part of the world-, it is one of the less considered, low regarded activities. I forgive them, because they don’t have eyes that can see through matter and flesh, and they would say art is like a whim, a caprice, a weird thing just for weird people, for some people with those special whims or a special sensibility, but not an universal need. They would say that it’s not practical, that it’s no use. They don’t even realize that they are moved around by art without knowing it, (as by philosophy). And, anyway, they will all go to the movies, read books, listen to music, go to a play or opera, admire paintings -or use it for decoration-, etc. And they will all be affected by those works, and hence, go back to their lives with a change of heart. Artists are destined to be poor. If it weren’t so, they probably wouldn’t be able to really fulfill their mission. But this might be my little experience talking. And nevertheless artists have to look singularly to the world, otherwise, they would just get lost as everybody else (from the Truth: so, it doesn’t mean they aren’t). And, if they’re to be looking singularly the world, almost like being apart of it for moments, in a world where money measures fellowship, how are artists not going to be castaways? Also, the truth hurts…
I said above that I find myself “at the edge” of crying “I hate being poor.” Because it’s so damn difficult to do anything in this world without money. If you want to do something, you need money, and if you need money, you need money first to get it. However, those words stay at the edge in my case. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t fancy being poor, but poverty is part of what has made me what I am now, so I would never say I hate it. There’s so much to learn from poverty, both innerly and pragmatically! So, I don’t hate being poor, and I don’t exactly like it either. I wish artists were better appreciated so they could have a dignified and worthy life, as every other human being. As any other worker. But I can’t say my works would be the same if I had a too confortable life. It’s a matter of spirit, not of resources. Even if I one day make lots of money, I will try to keep the same spirit of poverty. I guess it keeps me vigilant. It’s in my nature to help others. I don’t do it just with my art, I do it with what I can.
Even the possibility of being one entire year in Los Angeles, with nyfa, is quite an unbelievable notion. Oh, I will try with all my strength. But, let’s face it: I am so limited with my resources… I don’t have anything else than what I am, than what I have to offer, than my services, my knowledge, my skills… Yeah, some might say that’s what’s required. Only ideally. No, one has to pay tuition, to start with. Universities have to make their selection somehow. So it seems. It doesn’t matter, this is just an example of how life is as hard as one tries. In a very well organized folder of my computer, there are other 61 folders containing all the projects I have come up with until today. They’re all films. (I’m excluding 39 folders that contain literary projects). Some of them have already a script. All of them have a little developed story, descriptions, ideas, etc. Any of them could be made today if resources were found. I hope and intend to realize everyone of them in my life. And those that will keep on coming. Why do I? I think I said it. In plain words, I want to be a filmmaker (too) because I believe I have the “power” to make good for people, Beauty. Nyfa was obviously a step, as any study. I already said what a great time I had there. And my teachers and representatives know how grateful I am for just eight weeks. I have come to know a good number of universities, and I confess I am not built for academic environments, although -or because- I am very studious and curious. Even so, the New York Film Academy has been the first academic institution that has treated me with concern, that has helped me solve problems, not added more to my situation. It’s a place filled with great professionals and good people, at least that’s what I saw in eight weeks. And I really have experience with universities. I have a bachelor’s degree -in Spain, it used to be a five years career- in Philology, which has granted me a deep vision about humanity and the world, through language, literature, art, history, etc. And I have a master’s degree in Communication, Publicity and Protocol, with which I deepened into the subject of communications, human relationships, etc., as well as I got into the business world through one of its most important branches nowadays. I think these studies are a good foundation for the Filmmaking as an art and as an industry. I have made some films, I try to grow a career. I founded a production company called Opera Pictures in July 2016, and I’m trying to develop some projects. I got a manager in Los Angeles in January 2017, who’s helping me dearly.
Overall, I believe I am qualified to be in the world and do a responsable work.
Joaquín Vigo Ferrera