We had the good fortune of connecting with John Bombay Gutierrez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi John, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
“The way you make people feel is the only real currency in life.” I keep this idea in my head everyday and encourage the entire team at West America Film Company to do the same. Originally, we had other plans for 2020, as all of us did. But, the global pandemic forced the company to rethink our strategy and reign in the expectations we placed on ourselves. Now, in 2021, I’m grateful to say that we survived and created some great content despite the limitations placed on productions. I give credit to everyone who was flexible and adapted to the unprecedented circumstances that Covid-19 presented. I’m a firm believer that treating people with respect, patience, and appreciation, is what enabled us to accomplish so much last year.
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 sets apart the content created by West America Film Company is our dedication to diversity. Over the past year we’ve seen this concept pushed more than ever throughout the industry. I am encouraged by this change, because representation does matter. We take great joy in finding the untold stories, the unseen faces, and the unheard voices. So far this year, our company’s first feature film, Aguanta (directed by Felipe Martinez), has been selected to screen on March 27th at the 2021 Faith and Family Chicago Film Festival, and our most recent short, Cata (directed by Carlo Tonda), is soon to have festival selections announced as well. Both are Spanish language films. This summer, we will make history with the first feature film co-produced by American and Laotian production companies. West America Film Company and Seastar Entertainment Inc. have partnered to make The Lost Lake, a horror film infused with Laotian culture and Laotian leads. Carlo Tonda will direct. I am equally proud and excited for our companies not only to collaborate, but also to develop and nurture a strong relationship with the country of Laos, the Laotian American communities across the nation, and the Asian film market. Laotian film commissioner, Noy Ounkham, is highly motivated to share his culture with the world, and everyone on my team is grateful for the opportunity to bring his vision of a Laotian film industry to fruition.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love LA for so many reasons. One reason being, there will never be enough time to experience it all. So, I enjoy every chance I get to share even a small portion of it with others, and am always discovering new things. While the pandemic has limited our selection of restaurants, I’m grateful for the amazing trails, parks, and beaches that seem to always be open and accessible. The Hollywood sign is always a fun choice for hiking with first time visitors to LA. Hermosa Beach is always preferable to the more crowded Santa Monica Pier. I also enjoy visiting all the quiet parks around town that are the hidden gems of the city, in my opinion. Vista Hermosa Park near downtown is a great spot to take a friend for a picnic or a walk. Movies in the park are another great way to enjoy the city’s public spaces. Drive-in movies have made a resurgence since theaters closed last year, but watching E.T. at Verdugo Park in Glendale as part of Street Food Cinema (pre-pandemic) was amazing, and definitely an experience I highly recommend and would love to share with all. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It would be hard to identify one solitary person or thing that has encouraged me the most, so I would like to acknowledge as many as I can, briefly. I keep a picture of my parents on my desk. Both smiling at me during each and every zoom meeting. My mom is a cancer survivor and the scare of almost losing her, and imagining losing my dad also, instilled a powerful urgency within me to pursue my dream of filmmaking and ultimately start my company. I also feel strongly that I can learn just as much from younger people as I can from older people. A great deal of my success can be directly traced back to the youngest people on my team. I surround myself with people smarter than myself and am always willing to learn from them. I would like to humbly dedicate this shoutout to Carlo Tonda, Felipe Martinez, Max Woods, Xiaochen Huang, and Scott Crawford, for their support, belief, and friendship.
Michelle Vogel Max Woods Micah Johnson John Bombay Gutierrez West America Film Company