By Nathan Phan
Next up in our Pass the Mic series is Spanish-Cuban director and writer Day Garcia! Day is a trailblazer in the world of filmmaking, being the 7th female Cuban director to ever direct a feature film in the history of Cuban filmmaking. The co-founder of the production studio Live the Reel, she has worked on inclusive projects and touches on subjects such as LGBT issues, women, and body positivity.
In our interview, Day shares her experience in the filmmaking industry, from her challenges to her inspirations and favorite projects.
What got you interested in this field, and how did you get your start?
I studied in the National School of Arts in Havana, though I confess that perhaps at the time I was too young to comprehend Stanislavski, Brecht, Tennessee and many others. Equally it’s true those years studying theatre were the real foundation of my path today. Later I would start co-writing short films and acting in them. When the time came to shoot a feature film I’d written, I took the decision to say “I will become a director and a better actress (Grisell Monzón) will take the role.”
How would you describe your filmmaking style?
I’m a big believer in “Story” no matter the style. Perhaps in the distant future, if I’m lucky enough to keep doing this, a blueprint will be detectable. For now, everything orbiting around a project should be at the very service of the story itself, the emotional journey of what we are telling.
What motivates you?
Empathy and kindness. Strength in vulnerability, and inner lives through stories. Art matters, for everyone, in one way or the other. I see filmmaking as not an exact way to save the world, but to heal it.
Where do you look for inspiration? Any filmmakers you look up to?
I’m a very social and visual person, I love people, observing them, in a cafe, the metro, anywhere. It’s fair to say that most of my inspiration comes from the outside world, but also there are small moments of reflection when one is alone. Introspectively, those are the times when I get to know myself best, what bothers me, what really sparks me. As for filmmakers I look up to, the list can be endless and won’t make justice to all of them. I will rewatch Chloé Zhao’ Nomadland. Straight to the core.
Tell me about your favourite project that you’ve been a part of.
I can’t score in order to select a favourite project. All of them leave a mark and will always be remembered with a special fondness. The latest I enjoyed the most was a commercial commissioned by Mofilm for Durex, where I got the chance to work with real couples in front of the camera. It’s such a gift being part of the casting process from the beginning and getting to know such genuine humans. They opened the doors of their houses to the film crew creating a unique bond between everyone on “set”. Alright. I may have “favourites” – when real lasting connections are born from film experiences.
What are some of the challenges you face as a filmmaker?
The biggest challenge lies in the infinite efforts when advocating for female protagonists in stories more similar to those we find in real life. With wrinkles, grey hair, freckles, spots, or even bald. When I want to portray them in attitudes of security and strength, carrying out activities in full capacity. When her stories have depth. All this happens when there still is a lack of awareness and equality of views ensured in all types of institutions, companies, juries, initiatives or work teams. Fortunately we are in an “eye opening era” where confronting the past teaches us all how to live forward.
What advice would you like to give to aspiring filmmakers?
So filmmaking is kind of a long road, you will make mis-steps along the way. Stick to your truth, keep learning. I promise you this one thing… it gets better.