Making it in Hollywood is a dream for many. It is where intricate stories become reality, emotions get heightened, and getting proper representation continues to be a constant struggle.
To some, the topic of representation in Hollywood may feel like a broken record. But that’s the thing. Something is broken – the lack of people of color in film, including those from the Latinx community.
Guillermo Casarín, the Mexican filmmaker who won this year’s ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Film Festival’s grand prize directed the short documentary, Bad Hombrewood, which talks just about this.
Casarín’s mission is to avoid the erasure of the Latinx community in Hollywood
In the film, Casarín speaks to other emerging Latinx filmmakers and industry big leaguers, such as Guillermo del Toro, the Mexican filmmaker with dozens of successful films, and Ben Lopez, founder of NALIP.
“We’re here, there’s no way you can’t see us,” one of the filmmakers said, and we completely agree.
Making up about 20 percent of the entire US population, our presence in the film industry is not only a “want” but also a “necessity.” The second largest ethnic group should be portrayed on screen more than we are at the moment – and in a good light. (Side-eyeing narco-centric films for sure.)
What’s happening at the moment is that Latinx filmmakers are fighting against erasure as they continue to advocate for more inclusivity in films.
But oftentimes it’s a difficult feat considering Latinx people trying to thrive in the film industry are presented with fewer opportunities.
Casarín uses Bad Hombrewood to inform its viewers how Latinx people make up less than five percent of leads in films. After all of the prominence, our community has in the states, this is preposterous.
However, del Toro gave us some insight into why this is when he stated how racism in Hollywood is not hidden, it’s open and without shame.
Bad Hombrewood’s director and winner of ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Film Festival contest, Guillermo Casarín, gave us plenty to think about – and also plenty of hope. So, we decided to speak with him to learn more about what makes him tick.
Find BELatina News’ conversation with Guillermo Casarín below.
The Interview has been slightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Tell me more about yourself.
I was born and raised in Mexico City. I moved to the United States about nine years ago to pursue my filmmaking career where I received a small scholarship to attend USC.
Did the film industry always interest you?
My interest in filmmaking came from a really early age in my life. When I was a kid, my parents gave me this whole Lego set that had an introduction to a camera. Since then, I was hooked.
I also used to do the news for my high school in the United States.
I was always looking for movies and I was a big Star Wars fan. I love Superman. But none of the cast I loved were Latinos. This always bothered me.
What is something that is important to you?
One of the cool things about USC is that it has a lot of resources. They bring people to speak at the school very often. And usually, the conversations are very similar. The most common topic comes from unfolding questions about how people can keep moving forward in this industry. The answer is always the same. See, there’s no magical formula. It’s just perseverance. I’ve had to tap into that quality a few times.
For example, USC rejected me four times. So, I just kept trying. I learned from my mistakes and knew where I needed to improve. So, perseverance and believing in yourself are what is important.
What prompted you to say I need to produce ‘Bad Hombrewood?’
It was something that I always knew I needed as a Latino. But what really prompted me was the risk.
So, I was in a class one day and the faculty told me that was one of the good ones. To which I asked what they meant by that.
They told me there are a lot of bad hombres coming where I am from. I couldn’t believe it. What the fuck were they saying? That my family, my friends, they are all bad hombres and I’m the exception? Another time, I was talking Spanish over the phone at McDonald’s, and this lady comes to me and says, “you’re in America, you should be speaking English.”
Yes, that’s racism, But the root of racism is ignorance. So, people who have this opinion don’t know any better.
Why do you think some people have a skewed perception of the Latinx community?
It’s always about representation. If you think about it, the only thing that you see about us is that we are drug dealers, violent, hypersexualized, and other things. So, of course, people are going to start believing that.
Let’s talk about racism in Hollywood.
I don’t think all producers or casting directors are racist. But I think the system that exists is. This, along with their ignorance may not make them aware of certain things. That’s kind of the great victory of racism in society – you don’t realize things are happening that keep increasing the system in power.
But now we are creating awareness. We can change that step-by-step. I hope filmmakers will be more considerate the next time they are hiring their crew. It’s time to have authentically diverse casts.
What is a key part of the ‘Bad Hombrewood’?
Well, it is a roundtable of friends of mine. They are also filmmakers that are trying to get into the industry. All of them are Latinos from different backgrounds. We speak about all our experiences in the industry during the film.
Why do you want to go to Hollywood?
I love Mexican cinema, but the movies that always affected me more were Hollywood films. Hollywood goes all around the world. What gets produced in Hollywood is what gets played in the mind of the rest of the world.
What was something you struggled with while you were filming ‘Bad Hombrewood’?
I’m in the whole movie. I was able to interview some of the most important figures in Hollywood films. It was stressful. A lot of them are heroes of mine. Well, they are heroes of mine. So, I was nervous because they were going to see the film and didn’t want them to think that I fucked up. I didn’t want to present them with something bad, or they would get a bad image of me because of this short film.
That was kind of like the innate pressure of me interviewing them because it was very personal, I was in the movie, and I was spending so much time. I wanted to be the best. That was my imposter syndrome speaking, but I think I got through it.
Also, we shot more than 20 hours of material, and cut it to 23 minutes. That was very stressful. We got so many great things because of the people that we interviewed. They were so amazing that it was hard to choose between what to include.
What do you hope people who watch ‘Bad Hombrewood’ learn?
I want them to be inspired. I want them to know that they’re both smarter, that they can do whatever they want, and that they belong too. For the non-Latino audience, this can help them become aware of the problems and be more conscious of their decisions.
Any last words you’d like to share with the BELatina News audience?
Believe in yourself. It’s a rough path, but we need the stories from Latinos’ experiences. Yes, Hollywood gives our community a good story from time to time. But we need hundreds a year, not just once every four years. I do think we need to continue to celebrate those projects, but we need to keep pushing and asking for more.
Evidently, the short film is a must-watch – but you’ll have to wait a bit longer until you gain access to it. Let’s give Casarín the chance to receive his flowers at other film festivals by supporting him whenever possible.
And, of course, congratulate Casarín on being the grand prize winner for this year’s ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Film Festival!