WaH: You were very deliberate in putting together grassroots partnerships like the one with Communities for a Better Environment (CBE) to help get the film done. Talk about that experience and what you learned from it?
AG: I didn't want to do what so many entitled people do to marginalized communities. I didn't want to just take from this community and not give anything in return. Ideally, I think there should be a partnership between you and the community you're documenting. If they open up their doors to you, then in what ways can you be of use to them? That's the question I came to CBE with. I wanted to make sure Mosquita y Mari was somehow beneficial to the community of Huntington Park. Together, CBE and I developed a hands-on mentorship program for the youth in the area. Anyone interested in media was brought on to the film and mentored by one of the department heads, depending on the interest of the young person. CBE and I also talked about making the film available to the community however possible, especially because it can serve as a tool to talk about identity within an immigrant community. I went into this partnership with CBE a firm believer in its potential to make filmmaking a positive and powerful experience for many. I guess I walked away re-affirmed that collaborating in this way is how I'm meant to work as a filmmaker.
WaH: What was the one mistake you made that you will do differently next time?
AG: There were a couple of times I didn't trust my instinct and paid for it. No more of that!
WaH: What advice do you have for other female filmmakers?
AG: Don't shy away from telling the story you want to tell. I think we often look for permission to be able to make the films we deep down want to make. Give yourself that! I bet if you allow yourself to create freely you'll probably end up with something unique.
WaH: How can we get more stories like yours for people to see?
AG: We need more producers to get behind great projects and filmmakers! Ultimately we need orgs to support filmmakers like me and these types of projects. We didn't make Mosquita y Mari without Sundance, Film Independent, the community that came out during Kickstarter. It was my producer Chad Burris, Bird Runningwater, Jim McKay, myself that got this done. It's the pairing of the right people with right projects - for example attaching people who didn't care about the profit but instead wanted to see me and the film's content out there. When people are motivated by art and content, not money, these films happen.
WaH: What are you doing next?
AG: There's a strange phenomena happening in Los Angeles immigrant communities right now that has inspired me to write a script. I'm super excited about it. I'm also developing a pilot for television along with a couple of filmmakers I hugely admire.
Mosquita y Mari opens on August 3rd in New York at the Cinema Village.