We had the good fortune of connecting with Sofia Garza-Barba and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sofia, 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 Monterrey Mexico, surrounded by art, color and magic. If you’ve had the chance to visit Mexico, you know what I’m talking about. Art lurks in every corner. I started doing what I’m doing, because my father exposed me to films and music videos, and was so mesmerized by what I saw on the screen that I wanted to be the one making that. Since my father was a journalist, I had access to a lot of video cameras he owned, so I started to play with them just for fun. Whenever I had the opportunity to use it, I did. I always found a way to experiment my skills shooting home videos with neighbors, and in school at computer class. My childhood and upbringing in Mexico was so inspiring for me, that it has become the core of who I am as a director. Living in a home where cultures blended and having access to both Mexican and American TV gave me the opportunity to grow up with a particular expectation in storytelling. I was watching Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, but also films of Luis Buñuel by the time I was 5-years-old. Because of this, I bubble myself up in a fairytale made of the best pieces of these worlds to create my own. Things started getting more real, and less play like, when my computer teacher taught me to shoot films and edit them. After he broke the news to me, that there was actually a career to do this for the rest of my life, I decided to continue my path into becoming a filmmaker. At this time, I was still living in Mexico, and a filmmaking career was almost unheard of within my society. But, with the help of my parents and teacher, I pursued my dream and couldn’t be happier. I’m the only one of my family, living in the United States, and don’t regret a single thing.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Even though I live in the USA now and have dual citizenship, I carry my beloved natal Country and it’s magic in my blood, which makes me believe that it makes me see the world differently. I believe that my perspective and voice as a director shines a new light in all generations, old or new. My goal as a filmmaker and storyteller is to erase that line that separates cultures, people, and genres in filmmaking. The thing that excites me the most, is not following the rules and creating hybrid stories that can take someone in a visual and emotional ride. Life itself is a rollercoaster, so why not do that in film? Watching people laugh, cry or feel something when they watch my work, is something I’m addicted to and makes me keep doing what I’m doing.
It’s been a tough road to where I am today. As a Latinx female, we always have to work harder to prove ourselves to others and that’s been a big challenge. People expect you to do things a certain way, or pigeonhole you into something you’re not. It took a while for people to see that I was more than a Latinx director. Once someone takes a chance to get to know you, then the magic happens. You stop judging a book by its cover.
But I also believe that without those challenges, it’s tough to grow in this career. Every time I’ve been rejected, I’ve found myself wanting to prove I could do it, and figured out my own ways to making projects possible. I think having such a drive has helped me become a better director, and the more opportunities I have to show my personality and the way I work, the more people I meet that start to see me for my art.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career is be patient, but never expect someone to knock on your door. Go out, knock on doors yourself, and if there’s no more doors to knock, build your own and walk through it. With that being said, I’ve also learned to not just think of myself. Others have dreams like me, and if I can think of others too, then we can all help each other.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If a friend was visiting me, these are the key places I wouldn’t want them to miss out on…
Places to eat: LA Cha Cha Chá, Night + MarketSong, Grandmaster Recorders, Salazar, The Jolly Oyster in Ventura (worth the drive), Gjelina, Avenue 26 taco stand, Little Dom’s, The Dresden, Paradise Cove, & Old Place in the mountains of Agoura Hills
Coffee: Inteligentsia, Go Get Em Tiger, Alfred
Places to visit: Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, Greystone Mansion & gardens, Amoeba Records, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Farmers Market
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are a few key people and organizations that deserve some credit in my career and where I am today. If it weren’t for them, I’d still be dreaming the dream, and not actually living it. My parents for doing the impossible to send me to the USA to pursue my filmmaking career. My high school teacher Mark Alessio who gave me the tools I needed to tell stories, and my life mantra “Keep Doing Your Thing” to take with me everywhere I go. Pablo Guisa Koestinger, my friend, mentor and producer who was the first one to believe in me as a professional, and has never left my side all these years (He’ll hold my hand all the way to my grave and I love him for that). Tamika Lamison from CDDP, who gave me a chance that changed my life. Tommorrow’s Filmmakers Today family, especially Diana Luna, who has opened so many doors that I didn’t even know I had a chance to walk through. To my loved ones who have inspired, supported and believed in me every step of the way. I’ve survived this tough career thanks to you. To all the women in this industry that I’ve met in the last years, who have opened a door. GRACIAS