We had the good fortune of connecting with Andrew Gutierrez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Andrew, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
The values and principles that I value most are honesty and gratitude. It seems that both of those principles seem to have gotten lost in the fast paced world of our society. Lying is so prevalent in our culture that it is not even regarded as something negative but rather just apart of how we deal with people on the daily. I don’t know, maybe I am just “old school” but I value when people are honest with me, both, professionally and in my personal relationships. Honesty builds trust. In order for me to have trust with my friends and co-workers there needs to be honest conversations. If I am developing a screenplay with a producer or screenwriter or working with a cinematographer on our visual approach there has to be honesty. If something isn’t working or we are headed down the wrong path, we have to stop and tell someone “this is not right.”
We don’t have to agree but I want to hear a differing opinion. “Tell me truly how you feel.” I will listen but, I may not agree and that’s okay. That principle is beginning to become lost. It seems like we all have to agree now and if you don’t, you become ostracized. That’s a load of crap. I think it is in honest conversations we grow and get better. Now, honesty does not mean it has to be rude or mean spirited. Some of the most honest conversations I have had have been extremely caring and kind. That is what I love! Honesty still matters.
Another principle I try to practice is gratitude. Whenever someone goes out of their way to help or give me guidance I try to send a “thank you” letter. Gratitude spawns humility and appreciation. If everything around feels a little dark and there is less joy in your life, try sending a thank you letter to someone you appreciate. I swear your day changes. Gratitude is the way we stay humble and encourage others. I have received some feedback from people who have read my letters and it is always positive! Some get choked up while others wear a big smile. In any event, it is always a positive reaction. Why? Because it is a rare and special thing to have someone express gratitude.
Here is a little tip when writing a “thank you” letter; be specific. Be specific about what the other person did that made you feel grateful and be specific about how it made you feel. For example: “Thank you for letting me share my thoughts in your magazine article. It has caused me to reflect on some special people in my life and the desire to keep doing good in this world.”
Honesty and gratitude is a choice and needs to be practiced consistently in order for it to become a part of your DNA and expressed sincerely. I have found that the more honest and grateful I live, the better my life has become.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What I am most proud of is when I look back over my career my producers and I have been able to create a family environment on most of the sets I’ve worked on. This is something that is very important to me. If I am going to be spending over 12 hours a day with people it has to be with people I enjoy being around.
A few years ago I created a “filmmakers manifesto”, here is a quote, “I believe the film crew is like a family. Every effort should be made to create a safe environment to create in. Obviously, that means mitigating harm and injury to the lowest degree, but it also means respecting the various roles and positions on the set. It begins with the leads on the team, we set the tone of the attitude on the film set. Making films is tough work! But by taking care of the film family, we take care of the film.”
I know how strange this may sound and how far from filmmaking it appears but I truly believe this. This does not mean perfect harmony, it is a film set after all. Unfortunately, sometimes disagreements do disintegrate into broken relationships and unresolved tension, but if we try to maintain respect for the artistic work and listen to the needs of others hopefully those disagreements are minimized.
If I have a brand I want to be known for this. That I took care of the people on our film sets in the same way I like to be treated.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well I live in Orange County so the first order of business is not to go to any of the tourist traps like amusement parks. My apologies to the little mouse but anyone can do that. Also, I’m kind of a foodie so anything we do will have food as part of the schedule. First order of business is to go to Newport Beach and surf early in the morning when the wind is favorable. Then we hit Eat Chow on PCH or Ohana Bread Crumb in Huntington Beach, both of which I consider the best breakfast places in the area.
At some point we head to Laguna to go snorkeling and then dinner at LSXO in Huntington Beach. Pre-COVID, if there was a theatrical production in town or an orchestra we definitely would go to the Segerstrom Center to catch a show or in the Summer time watch a movie projected outdoors on a screen on the side of the building
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My story is really only possible with the support of a lot of people. First and foremost from my wife and family. Film production at face value seems like such a selfish ambition. It takes you away from your loved ones for hours, weeks and months. Events that you plan with your spouse or friends have to be cancelled, moved or adjusted frequently. Many times, I have asked the question “is it worth it?” This is the plight of the artist, writer, storyteller, filmmaker. I mean really, how many times can you say, “I’m sorry, can we move that dinner a week or two?” Nevertheless, it does happen. My wife has been the one on the receiving end of that rampart most frequently. She has been very understanding ever since we’ve dated. She appreciates and knows that what I am doing brings me a deep sense of happiness even when it is hard. I am also very close to some of my nephews and nieces who always support me: Madalyn, Jacob, Coco, Spencer and Megan.
I also want to recognize the encouragement and support of family and friends. My parents, brothers, aunties, uncles and cousins are always a great source of encouragement and very grounding when the vortex of production life is at it’s peak. Mom and Dad, Mark and Sonia, Matt and Alma, Scott and Maria, Tom, CJ, Steve, Michelle Y., Brad A., Randy H., Josh, Kelsey C., Darin and Yolanda, Kelsey Z, Sam S. to name a few, have always been a great resource of encouragement.
Then there are actors, filmmakers and professors from Chapman University who have had an incredible impact on me. Heidi Martin, Armando DuBon Jr., Elena Sahagun, Eric and Alexa Hann, Scott Coones, Don Williams, Roy Finch, Andy Lane, Rachel Goldberg, Pavel Jech, Michael Kowolski, John Badham, Martha Coolidge, Paul Wolansky, Johnny Jensen, Bill Dill. All of these names have had an impact on my life and my work in such a powerful way it is hard to describe.
The reality is the lines between co-workers and family blur for me because production teams become friends and some become family. Regardless, these names and more are ones I rely on for encouragement and support.
Facebook: Andrew John Gutierrez
Other: Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/andrewgdirector
Alex Iseri Kaila Beltran