Filmmaker Spotlight: Erika Garces

March 30, 2017

Erika Garces’ City of Dreams competes in the Women’s Film Challenge Semifinals

Erika is a well-known South American actress. She has been training and performing in theater and film since the age of 16 in England, Argentina and the US. She is trained in stage fighting and fire arms (pistols and revolvers). She recently finished her first feature screenplay based on a true, recent story. Its short synopsis: A former rape victim and current police officer, Nicole Hawkins, has to find a way to get on a prostitute’s side (Vanessa) to catch the leader of a sex trafficking business in Tenancingo, Mexico and San Diego, California.

How did you get inspired to become a filmmaker?

As a kid I would always ask my family to gather in the living room because I wanted to tell a story, most of the times borrowed from a movie I had just seen on TV. If there was a text, essay or article to read in a group, I’d be the first to volunteer. It was always about the opportunity of telling a story. Fast forward to when I turned 16 and my dad approved my move to England to join a theater company. I think that solid British theater introduction to storytelling was the best I could have asked for. Filmmaking then, became my favorite way to tell stories.

What resources do you use as a filmmaker? Music, locations, props, editing, crew, etc.

Music is the first thing I turn on. Either for inspiration or to set the mood, take us to the environment, the feeling, the world the characters live in. For me, music is paramount for the process and the result. Locations can make the difference you need for your film. Editing is huge. It was my first time being so closely involved in the editing process and the sound designing and, gosh! ADR! We did so much ADR. We had a small team on set, 5 of us including the cast and crew, so as we were multitasking, the AC went on and nobody realized! For about 70% of the film. Oh, the fun days!

What is your next project?

This next project I will focus on, is one I’m very proud of. It’s about a topic that has been on and off the news lately and I know a lot of people choose to look away from it. Sexual assault and sex trafficking. It’s my first feature screenplay. The story is carried by a strong female lead. Between interviewing victims, doing research on previous cases and developing these stories into one piece that will carry the theme, it took me about 14 months to get to the final stages of the script. Ideally, this feature will be directed by a female. I will be playing the main character: a young police officer in San Diego.

Which filmmakers, artists or individuals have most influenced your work?

Stella Adler, Karyn Kusama, Shonda Rhimes, Kate Winslet, Mark Ruffalo, Gina Prince-Bythewood.

What advice would you give new filmmakers?

Stay encouraged doing the things that move you, make you passionate, make you want to share with others. Stay focused on the things that you can control. Everything else, let it roll. If it’s out of your control, let it go, don’t stress about it. When it’s a challenge to make decisions, “should I move on or keep trying on this one?” you can ask for advice to your mentor, coach, co workers, friends, but the one that makes the final decision is you. Go back to your desires and goals. What did YOU want in the first place? Follow that!

Check out Erika’s film here or visit her on the web at!


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