IAMERICA is short film about identity and friendship that stems from the personal experiences of its creator, Julian Gavilanes. I’m incredibly excited to announce that this small but mighty short film that I assisted with this past year is finally complete and being submitted to film festivals! We’re very excited to see where it will go. Not only did I play a very tiny role in helping to produce this film, stepping in to create spreadsheets, schedule out Instagram posts, and send emails as needed, but I was also thrilled to be on set for a few days as our film production still photographer.

IAMERICA came from a deeply personal place for Julian. Struggling at rock bottom, Julian found solace and purpose in volunteering at a Ronald McDonald House in Seattle, where he formed a deep connection with a terminally ill young boy. Witnessing the boy’s unwavering joy and love for life despite his circumstances profoundly impacted Julian. Through what he describes as ‘the power of love,’ Julian watched the boy defy the odds and beat his illness, becoming a beacon of inspiration. This remarkable bond continues to inspire Julian, serving as the foundation for IAMERICA’s buddy narrative.

The film IAMERICA follows the journey of Marc Stacy, a former Hollywood star grappling with the consequences of cancel culture, and Erica Johnson, a war hero, as they form an unexpected alliance. Their relationship mirrors the profound friendship Julian forged with the young boy, highlighting the transformative power of human connection. Through Marc and Erica’s journey, the film explores themes of self-worth and resilience in the face of life’s challenges. IAMERICA invites audiences on a poignant and sometimes painful exploration of the human experience, emphasizing the importance of embracing vulnerability and the transformative impact of unexpected friendships.

The Significance of Still Photography

Although you can easily turn your film into stills, a film production still photographer is useful in capturing the behind-the-scenes and the heightened emotions that go into the making of a film. These high quality images not only document the crew interactions during the production process, but they eventually help market and promote the film. I’m proud that the images I captured while on set will preserve the filmmaking memories and allow us to promote IAMERICA further when we get accepted into film festivals.

Stills contribute significantly to the overall narrative and branding of a film by offering glimpses into its visual aesthetic, thematic elements, and character dynamics. Whether capturing iconic moments or subtle details, we’re using my images to shape the marketing perception and build anticipation of the film.

It was a little bit of deja vu being back on a film set.  Having graduated with a degree in Radio-TV-Film from UT Austin, I have an abundant amount of knowledge and experience from film sets, having used to work in the industry as my main source of income for quite a few years after graduating from the university.  It should come as no surprise that being a film student has deeply influenced my photography, as well as my process, how I see the world, and the types of images I like to create.  I was trained in college to have a comprehensive understanding of framing, lighting, and composition. It also allowed me to develop critical thinking abilities and problem-solving skills, often essential to navigating complicated wedding days, multi-day corporate events, and the stress of running a small business.

We filmed IAMERICA over 5 days in Southern CA, just outside of Los Angeles. The crew was small and tight!  I’m thrilled to have a collection of images that showcase everything from the raw emotion of intimate character interactions to the incredible sunsets and sweeping landscapes we utilized. We had an absolutely incredible team thanks to our fearless dynamic duo of leaders: co-writer, star, mastermind, and my good friend Julian Gavilanes, alongside co-writer, producer, and director Sean Crampton.  Our cinematographer Nathan Haugaard was INCREDIBLE and so much of how beautiful our short film looks is thanks to his knowledge, efforts, and incredible skill. Our other lead actor, Erika T Johnson is a veritable badass. She is such a hard worker, but has such a vibrant fun and goofy side when the time clock stops.

You can read more about our team here.