We had the good fortune of connecting with Jose Aguila and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jose, why did you pursue a creative career?
There wasn’t a specific day when I decided that I’d be a creative, I’ve just been following my gut for a while now. It took a long time, but I learned to stop listening to the voice in my head that constantly told me that I was wrong and just started doing more. Instead talking about the projects that I wanted to make or planning days that would never happen, I made moves. I worked and saved money, I practiced shooting photos of people on the street and friends who’d end up being my models for the day, and I took risks like moving out to LA and transferring from a university to a community college knowing that I’d have to get into a better university later. There’s just always a bit of pressure within me to keep improving someway somehow.
I’ve taken photos since I was kid, my parents have shoeboxes of photos I’ve taken on disposable cameras. I wasn’t good with the cameras, but, I was doing something. I look through those photos every time I’m back in my parent’s home. They’re a good reminder that to no matter what, try to enjoy life as much as possible. Back then, it was all fun, I took cameras on field trips and to soccer games because it made me happy.
So, photography to me is my way of enjoying life. I always tell my friends that everything I see is a picture, so I just try to use whatever I have on hand to capture that. Every day I get up and follow my gut. Somedays I’m doing great work, others I’m just learning and preparing for the next project. Photography and filmmaking have been the main drive, but music and writing are two passions that I quietly follow. I pursue my curiosity every day.
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.
My career so far isn’t really what most people would call a career, but I’m hoping it takes me to the right places. I’ve been a freelance Production Assistant on music video and commercials for the past year, with a few opportunities of working the lighting department, camera department, and grip team. Life on set is hectic and moves fast, but I think my experience working in restaurants and coffee shops have given me the necessary skills and “thick skin” to take the long hours and tiresome work. In school, everyone in the film department introduces themself with whatever title they’re hoping to become or are working in at the beginner-level, for example I’d use to say I was a writer, photographer, and director.
On set, if you’re a PA (production assistant), that’s all you are. You’re the person who carries the heavy equipment back and forth, makes sure everybody eats and is hydrated, and occasionally the stand-in for the DP while they prepare the next shot.
I’ve heard a lot of people say PAs are the most replaceable people on set, but, I think we’re a little more important than that.
We’re more like the seasoning on your favorite dish, you’ll notice when it’s not there. But, amongst us PAs, we’re all looking for ways to grow and collaborate. I have friend who I’ve worked with, his name is Briggen, and he told me that to him PA stands for “Possibly Anything,” because we’re all trying to make it some way. I liked that.
I’ve found success on set, and that just means that more people call you to work on their productions. Every day is different, but it’s exciting and I’m always being introduced to new faces. I love the opportunities and experiences I’ve had.
As far as my own work, I’ve work with a lot of artists developing their music videos, portraits for their album covers and social pages, and their designs brands and merchandise. This style of work is my favorite and I hope to continue with it and grow. I want to continue working as a photographer and videographer, but I hope to grow and expand into other fields like directing, writing, and design.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love to drive, so I’d probably take them out to every side of LA. I stay around the Inglewood/South Central area, so we could start around here. Check out the good eats like Dulan’s and Hilltop, get a hair cut with my barber Kris in South Central. Then we’d drive to Downtown and see what’s out there. You never know wha to expect, the city is always moving and people are always up to something. I like walking around Art’s District and Little Tokyo, I know I’ll always catch good flicks and good people out there. The ramen joints there are the best undoubtedly so we’d try and find the restaurant with the smallest line, I hate lines, And then probably hit the bars around Art’s District, there’s a cool one with arcade games around there. After that night, we’d both probably be trying to spend as little money as possible, so sighting seeing will do.
I’d show them East Los for the Latinx culture, Silver Lake and Los Feliz for good thrift shops and cool people, we’d hit the suburbs and Beverly Hills to see how the rich and wealthy of LA live, and then catch a good view of downtown by the LA bridge. Check out other areas where I have friends like Compton, Lynwood, and Downey. There’s so much to the LA area that it’d be tough to see it all but you gotta make it out everywhere.
I’m terrible with remembering names to places, but I know it when I see it. They’d have a good time with me no doubt though,
I love being outside.
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?
All credit to my existence goes to my parents, it’s because of their efforts and decisions that I’ve been able to continue to grow and maintain myself in this life. My dedication to improve every day comes from them, I know they’re already proud of the few accomplishments in my life but I’ll keep going for them. All my friends, old and new, each one of them have given me different perspective of life and have showed me ways of enjoying the little things. My good homies know who they are, I appreciate everyone still here with me.
To all the teachers and professors throughout my academic journey, I still think of the help and support you’ve given me. I hope to one day reconnect with many of them. I try my best and visit my old high school and still email some professors, but, I’m sure that I’ll find ways to reconnect with those who tried their best to help me see the way.