We had the good fortune of connecting with Marie Jamora and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marie, how do you think about risk?
Life is full of risks because it’s all about choices where you don’t know the outcome. Making choices is a 50% “What if?” situation to the other direction you picked. However, you have to be in tune with your intuition in order to make the right choices for your life. I make choices purely on my gut and listening to the universe, and I am so fortunate to say that my life has turned out great so far. I usually say “Yes” to opportunities thrown my way, even if I am scared, and I always figure it out. Because of risk, I immigrated to the United States eight years ago with no plan, and purely based it out of love for my partner and wanting to build a life in Los Angeles together. Now, all the hard work and struggle is paying off. Taking risks is also about getting outside of your comfort zone, and when you do that, you need to constantly learn while pushing yourself. You end up evolving as a person. For me, we are students of life, and the day we stop learning is the day we pass onto a different life.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am a writer, director, and producer. I began as a music video director in Manila, Philippines, directing 50 music videos in my career. It also helped that I am a musician myself, a songwriter and drummer, who grew up in the vibrant rock scene. This career path then led me to direct commercials, television, and my feature film, which ended up in the Slamdance Film Festival. At Slamdance, I met the man who would become my husband and together we moved to Los Angeles to build a new life. When I immigrated to the States, I realized how invisible the Filipinx community still is in mainstream media. So my husband and I formed a production company, Indie Pop Films, which focuses on Asian-American stories with a specific lens on Filipinx culture. We also founded Cinema Sala, a screening and workshop series that showcases Filipinx work from the film and performing arts industries. Because of these two things, we are pushing our representation forward, showing the world that we are a movement of creatives that are brimming with talent and original content. Filipinos are the second largest group of Asian-Americans and it is about time to have content about us and made by us. Aside from telling Filipinx stories, I am focusing on directing for episodic television. I have spent the last eight years in Los Angeles pushing myself, getting into rooms, and making content that I’m proud of. In 2020, I graduated from AFI’s Directing Workshop for Women, Warner Bros’ Television Directors’ Workshop, and Lifetime’s Director Shadowing Program. Living in LA is a constant hustle, there are no vacation days on this path, especially now that I’m a mother, but the hard work has paid off. In 2021, I will finally be directing for television and I hope to be able to bring more Filipinx creatives with me in all my future projects.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One night, I would take them for the best Mexican food in the country… Appetizers at the Tire Shop Tacqueria with their carne asada tacos and tostadas. Then the main course a mile away at Super Tortas DF, which has the best cubana sandwiches. Another night, we can do a music show at a place like The Hi Hat in Highland Park, they have great bands and you can either eat from the chicken joint attached to the bar or walk down the street at any one of the awesome food stalls. Then we can do Korean BBQ at Magal and then do karaoke in K-town after. Go drinking and dancing in Oil Can Harry’s in Studio City, or roller skating at the Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale. Lastly, we can do a picnic on the beach (avoiding the touristy ones), setting up a cabana, bringing a cooler with drinks and food and just hanging out all day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to the late great Filipino film director, Marilou Diaz-Abaya. She made films during the Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema in the 1980s until the early 2000s, telling stories about feminist issues, sexuality, spirituality, and the struggles of marginalized Filipino communities. She mentored me when I was in college and encouraged me to go to film school abroad like she did. I got to be with her onset and off, in class and outside class, and I saw how her passion for storytelling permeated her entire life. I saw how her sets were her extended families, and I realized I wanted to build my teams/crews like she did. She also shared her knowledge with the younger generation, opening up her own film school where she taught an army of filmmakers to “make movies with heart.” Philippine cinema transformed because of her. A lot of the country’s top filmmakers were her students. One of my happiest moments was when we got to program Direk Marilou’s 1982 masterpiece, Moral, in Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY360 Film Series, “A Woman’s Work,” which celebrated women-made film gems from around the world. Everyone in the audience, mostly non-Filipinos, were astounded by how ahead of its time her film was. I will continue to share more of her oeuvre because people need to know what an extraordinary filmmaker and person she was.
Photos by Bianca Catbagan, Leslie Gonzales, Jason McLagan, Marie Jamora