Tell me a bit about yourself.
I am a 20-something, Filipina, college graduate, writer, and filmmaker.
You are a graduate of USC’s cinema program and also publish short films on your YouTube channel ItsLuft. How would you describe your film making style for those who may not be familiar yet?
I'm not even sure what my style is yet, but I do know that I would like my work to be emotive. Everything that I write and film (on that channel, anyway) comes from within me and my own, very real, feelings. Rather than telling direct narratives, I apply very simple words and images to portray intense emotions and trauma.
Did you always know you wanted to pursue film? What attracted you to this form of expression?
My initial interest actually wasn’t in filmmaking at all! In grade school, English and literature were my favorite subjects. I was very invested in having a career in writing. During high school, I slowly became interested in graphic design and animation—I was always in front of a computer toying with creative programs. It wasn’t until graduation that I started to embrace my love for fashion, design, and photography. After spending time in community college to gather my thoughts and zero in on my interests, I realized that film was everything I loved about art, all put into one medium. I could write, design, animate, costume, and work with a camera, all at once.
Where do you get your inspiration from? Is there a certain time/place/environment where you flourish the most creatively?
I get inspired by everything so there isn’t any particular time or place that puts me in a creating mood. I’m an observer, and I’m big on ambiance. If a room is emitting a certain mood, if the daylight is portraying a kind of romantic cover, or if the sounds and smells of a place turn into a character all their own, that is when I am inspired. When everything that is around me can be communicated as cinematic, I automatically react—ideas start buzzing in my head. And it definitely happens often!
If you have any idols in the film making world (this can be filmmakers, screenwriters, actors etc.), who are they and what do you admire most about them?
Hayao Miyazaki talks of “ma”, a Japanese word that encapsulates the “extra” elements if his films. Sighs, breaths, looks– the building of tension… the time to think. Miyazaki’s storytelling is perfect because of these subtleties. There isn’t any extra embellishment or unneeded noise. It’s the kind of balance I hope to achieve in my films someday.
What are your top 3 favorite pieces of work of all time?
I always have a hard time answering these so I’m just going to not overthink it and type whatever comes to mind!
- Sedmikrásky (Daisies) — entirely beautiful and entirely chaotic
- Kiki’s Delivery Service — Kiki speaks to my heart
- Cidade de Deus (City of God) — I’ve never seen anything else like it
For aspiring filmmakers or those who have an emerging interest in it, what advice would you give as they pursue their own creative goals?
Don't sweat all the technical stuff. Whatever you can get your hands on, film with that. Even if it’s an old point-and-shoot or your iPhone. Edit with iMovie or Windows Movie Maker. The bottom line is you don’t need a $5,000 camera to tell a good story.
Alongside your art, you have amassed a following of over 170 thousand people across social media like Instagram and YouTube. How did this following come about and in what ways has it influenced your artistic expression?
I really think I just got lucky. I initially started the account to post outfits and some very rough DIYs I was proud of— it was my way of coping creatively after graduating from high school and not having any idea what I was going to do. Now, I honestly don’t know where I’d be without it. I started off on it entirely lost, and while I may still not have things completely figured out, the platform I’ve been blessed with has given me so many opportunities to explore and create, and to meet so many others that inspire me to do better.
You are very outspoken about politics, social issues, and your Filipino identity, especially on Twitter. Why are you vocal about these topics?
I need to be. Growing up, I spent all my time online. But it wasn’t until I joined sites like Tumblr and Twitter that I started becoming more and more conscious of the world around me. My dashboards and timelines were saturated with fashion posts and celebrity gossip, but over time, they were slowly infiltrated by more socially aware content. Seeing other bloggers and internet friends talk about these issues eventually popped my bubble. Now, I’m definitely not saying to get all your news on social media! But the more I started seeing it be talked about by people I respected, the more I wanted to go out and learn on my own. I have been blessed with an audience— one that is young, impressionable, and learning day by day. I can only hope to have the same effect on them.
For many young minority women, we obviously didn’t grow up seeing ourselves represented often in western media. How does that issue play into your creative projects/social media presence?
It plays into everything inherently. My very presence as a filmmaker who is both Filipina and female is already an outlier. It’s so unfortunate because we exist in droves. Minority women have just as much desire to create. The problem is that hardly any opportunities for us even exist.
Has social media changed the way you personally digest and understand certain issues?
I’ve learned to be more cautious. It’s extremely easy to be misinformed when source texts can be left out, characters are limited to 140, and quotes are almost always taken out of context. While social sites have opened up a new world for this generation to educate themselves, there is still a lot of content to sift through that is unreliable.
What can your audience expect from you in the future regarding any creative projects?
I’m a multi-tasker—I have about 4 different projects that I’m currently planning (all secret for now!). At the moment, though, I’m just trying to focus on two things: 1) working (to pay off some student loans) and 2) improving my mental health. What’s great is in the midst of this, I’ve been doing a lot of self-learning! I’ve picked up some new editing programs and art mediums. My goal is to be a well-rounded creator.
What advice would you give to young women growing up/working/learning in the world today?
This is something I’m just learning now—work with as many people as you can (especially if you’re an artist!). If you’re anything like me, you may have convinced yourself that you can do it all alone. And you probably can. But there is so, so much to get out of reaching out to others. Creating and collaborating with them, sharing techniques, styles, and points of view. Nothing has been more valuable to me than the connection I’ve been able to make with other creators.