We had the good fortune of connecting with Abi Nuguid and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Abi, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I moved here in LA in 2013 to pursue a master’s degree in documentary filmmaking. Since then, my goal as a filmmaker was to really be able to tell stories I know best, which is my Filipino culture. I was very fortunate to be able to be in a group wherein my classmates were also from different parts of the world – I would always learn from each one of them, from the films they made that very much reflected their roots. As a storyteller, the films I share or bring out to the world are from my experiences and perspective – my identity as a Filipino. A part of my life is like a puzzle piece that helps complete a story, thinking that there is a part of me that I share with the audience.
My film that I’m most proud of and highlighted my culture is called “Lola Divas” (“Grandma” Divas”) – a story about the oldest drag queens in Manila and their life and love on stage. I was a graduating student at New York Film Academy and for my thesis film, I wanted to learn from creative individuals what it’s like to follow their passion despite all the challenges that they went through or are still facing; and what better way to hear it from the oldest drag queens in Manila, much more that their generation didn’t really allow them to be who they truly are or to be fully accepted. Growing up in Manila, which is a majority of Catholics, it was very different for Lola Divas to express themselves. Two different worlds – on stage and off stage, their individual stories of how they followed their passion and showed their love performing on stage, really gave them a whole different world wherein that love spread to people who watched them perform and inspired others to continue to embrace themselves.
I was very much inspired by their story, most especially their passion. I was going out to the real world after graduation and wanted to learn from people who followed what they loved to do, even though they were faced with a lot of challenges. I am grateful for their stories and life lessons that I still bring with me today. It has very much helped me continue to move forward, knowing that my Filipino culture has inspired me to be able to keep sharing stories from different walks of life. It’s amazing how, even though we come from different backgrounds, we also find a connection that helps us grow as a person and at the same time, it gives us a new perspective in this world. This kind of perspective rolled over to how my husband and I create our own content – PAN Productions LA. If not for product videos, our main goal is to continue to tell stories of individuals to be able to share a part of their lives, to send a message and in a way to influence or inspire.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Living on my own as a student here in the US was not easy, but my passion kept me moving forward. I am very grateful to have a supportive family who let me pursue my dream of becoming a filmmaker. It was tough but my end goal of being able to share stories of people from different walks of life, inspired me to explore more and allow the world to teach me. Getting my master’s degree in documentary filmmaking was a good start, but really staying in the industry was challenging. Being in the creative world, it’s difficult to not let my emotions or passion get in the way – meaning I work on other projects I believe in or support… and there have been projects that I was a part of that didn’t have any pay, but because I believed in their project, I supported them and did the best I can to fulfill their dream or goal of sharing that story out to the world.
I’ve been a video editor for about 5 years now. Working on commercials, short narratives, short and feature length documentaries, animatics, events, and music videos. I always knew I wanted to make documentaries, but being part of the film industry meant that I should be able to wear many hats. I tried producing and writing as well, but I found my place in video editing. Editing is another way and the last step to writing a story. It made me very excited to be able to weave together different interviews, shots, add music and sound effects, and make it all one story… and when you rearrange even just a few clips or change music, it gives a different approach or has a different feel to the story. It’s very interesting!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LA will always be the city where I can just drive around and explore. There will always be something to do in this city and something new to try out. The famous Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, Griffith Park, Observatory, LACMA lights, Universal Studios, Disney, Warner Bros tour, and outlets for shopping! Grand Central LA for food, The Smorgasburg every Sunday, driving along the Pacific Coast Highway and passing Santa Monica Pier, Venice, and all the way to Malibu. A lot of hiking spots that give the best views – Los Leones Trail, Eaton Canyon, Runyon Canyon, Aliso Canyon, Towsley Canyon park, and the Griffith Park trail (to name a few).
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family – I wouldn’t be in film and won’t be able to do what I love if it weren’t for them, my husband Phil who is my number one supporter and also the photographer/cinematographer of PAN Productions LA and inspired me to continue making our own content, Lola Divas – for allowing me to share their story and inspiring me to love my passion more, my mentors from New York Film Academy – who believed in me and helped me prepare for the real world. – Thank you so much.
Facebook: Abi Nuguid