This is a weekly series where we feature our incredibly talented Adolescent members and their work! Sign up here to join the Adolescent Membership and be part of the @ family!
This week’s Adolescent Member Crush is Antonina Kerguelen, writer, director, and producer originally from Bogota, Colombia. Since graduating from SCAD, Antonina has relocated to LA and become the Latino Media Market Coordinator for the NALIP. Between the craziness of work and school, she’s still managed to produce seven short films—and she has more on the way. Keep reading to learn more about Antonina’s short film Desde Sus Ojos, why representation matters, and how Antonina controls her narratives through writing and directing them.
Adolescent Content: You’ve moved from Colombia, to Georgia, to LA. What has your time in each location taught you about your craft?
Antonina Kerguelen: Seeking new experiences and landscapes—as well as connecting with people from different backgrounds—is essential for my creativity. I’ve also realized that moving is a great way of reflecting on the place or chapter [I’m leaving] behind. It helps me see more objectively what I learned and experienced.
Adolescent: Tell me about your film, Desde Sus Ojos (The Coffee Vendor).
Antonina: I wrote the script for The Coffee Vendor after getting into an argument in a screenwriting class about the representation of Colombia in the mainstream media. I was actually writing a completely different story that was set in New York, and my professor thought I should instead explore my frustration and write something that would take place in Colombia. Writing a story that took place in my hometown and had nothing to do with drugs or violence felt like the right thing to do. The script was awarded the Work in Progress grant from the Bogota Short Film Festival, so I got the resources I needed to make the film a reality.
The Coffee Vendor is my first professional short, and it’s about the relationship and the struggles of Julio, a blind man, and Daniel, a kid from the streets of Bogota that Julio adopted. The short was all shot in Bogota, with local talent, and it was the first time I got to shoot something in Colombia. It was fantastic going back to my hometown to film something that had so much meaning to me, and I’m definitely working on doing that again.
Adolescent: What are you working on right now?
Antonina: For the past two years I’ve been working on my next short, ¡Salsa!, which will be shot on the coast of Colombia and will serve as a proof of concept for a feature film. The team and I have already participated in different development opportunities in Colombia such as the Bogota International Film Festival’s Executive Production Lab, the Bogota Short Film Festival’s Co-Production Incubator, and the Bogota Audiovisual Market. We’ve strengthened our narrative and found great collaborators that have joined our team along the way. We’re currently seeking to complete our funding and go into production in early 2020.
Besides that, I’m in post-production for a music video of the song “Mirrors” by the Brooklyn-based Colombian artist William Ospina.
Adolescent: What do you think are the benefits of being both a writer and a director? I feel like it’d be a matter of really controlling the narrative.
Antonina: It’s definitely a tool of control over the narrative. While I’m writing, I’m also imagining how I want the scenes to look and feel. In my case, because the early stages of writing a project are always such an individual experience, I get to really develop an initial vision for my stories, which tends to be really helpful when I start looking for collaborators. In my experience, I’ve found great collaborators who are not only excited about the scripts they’re reading but also about the execution of those scripts. That to me is incredibly valuable because I know that they will then contribute to that initial vision, and will help me shape it into something more solid or more effective.
Adolescent: Can you tell me about your work with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP)?
Antonina: NALIP is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of Latinx creators in the entertainment industry. Even though we’re one of the largest ethnic minorities in the U.S., we’re the most underrepresented in films and shows. Throughout the year, NALIP puts together a series of programs and events that are meant to address the current state of the entertainment industry and provide development opportunities for diverse content creators. I’m currently the coordinator for one of these programs, called the Latino Media Market. It’s a two-day event where we select up to 28 projects and pair the creators of those projects with industry professionals for one-on-one pitch meetings. The program’s goal is to get the filmmakers’ projects a step closer to getting produced, and also to help diverse filmmakers start meaningful relationships with industry insiders. I’m incredibly grateful to have found NALIP—the work I’ve been doing with them has been a fantastic way to intersect my passion for filmmaking and my passion for diverse stories and a diverse industry. I’ve also been learning a lot about the industry, which has been incredibly valuable in the stage of my career that I am in right now.
Cover image by Claire Puginier, Paolo Nigrinis.