Exclusive Interview with Andres Ramirez
Jose Andres Ramirez Ortiz is a Mexican independent filmmaker known as Andres Ramirez. While growing passionate to the world of cinema and literature, Andres started writing short stories at a young age. Later, in Monterrey, Mexico, while he was in high school, he started his filmmaking career shooting short films and music videos. At this point, writing and filmmaking became more prominent in his life, and during a summer, he went to the Pre-College Program at CCA in San Francisco. At the end of high school, he went to Vancouver Film School, where he directed and produced the first short film as a student in a film school, "Why? (2016). He is currently working on distributing his successful short film "Frame," which was presented at the Cannes Short Film Corner in 2018. At the end of 2019, he started a festival circuit run for his two more recent short films, “Shutter” and “From Charlie, with Love,” which are currently seeking distribution. Andres is currently in post-production for his first VR project, “Scars and Voices: A VR Experience.” He is currently developing and looking forward to completing his next short film while he continues his film studies at New York University with the hopes of graduating in May 2022. IMDb Profile
Synopsis: Anders and Natalie, a modern couple who has been dating for at least two last years and supporting each other dreams. Soon to be graduating from college, they begin to face uncertainty about the upcoming changes in their lives. Two weeks before graduating, Anders receives an opportunity to work in his dream job in Los Angeles, in the process of jeopardizing his relationship with Natalie after his commitment of moving to China with her supporting her dreams, seemingly putting aside his career. Suddenly the young couple is forced to choose between their dreams or the relationship itself. IMDb Profile / Ig: @isthisitfilm --
Andres, first of all, it's a pleasure talking to you!
Let's talk about your most recent work “Is This It?”. How did the idea for this project come about?
The story is personal, mainly inspired by how certain relationships have shaped and impacted my dreams. The movie has been in development for over four years. I began writing the scrpit in December 2018. The movie also reflects the uncertainty and many multiple changes I experienced during my early twenties, especially after moving four times to land in my dream school and once again becoming anxious about the future upon graduation. In essence, this is a film of exploring my maturity as I question the value of my dreams while creating a love letter to the people who have influenced me in the most organic, honest, and personal yet universal way.
Tell us about the preparation processes of the film, as the creation of the script (are you also the screenwriter?), the casting, etc.
We’ll we are very early into the pre-production process that said I could speak about the casting and what I am most excited for as we go into production. As I mentioned above, this film is very personal and has been in Development since 2018. As you can imagine, I am very excited to finally share this story with the world after it being stuck in my head. At some point, I thought the film would never become A reality, especially during the Covid lockdown. In many ways the idea of making the film helped me navigate through these difficult times. Hence, I feel blessed and delighted every time I work in pre-production and talk with my collegues and crew about the film. Honestly, I cannot wait for us to shoot! The casting process itself has been very interesting, and I am very lucky to be working with such a generous, kind, and talented cast. In Nathan’s case, I had worked with him on a set before. However, we didn’t stay in touch. Then by an act of fate, we ran into each other and re-established contact after. I offered him to do scenes in a directing class, but little did we know that Covid would cancel the plan. During the pandemic, we engaged and realized how similar we are. After discussing the “Is This it?” project and working on a crucial scene on a Zoom workshop, I casted Nathan to play Anders in April of 2020. In the case of Sidney, things were a little bit different. I had another actress that unfortunately had to drop the project. Luckily, Nathan was able to connect me with Sidney. I remember feeling nervous because of her strong resume. After our first conversation, we connected and realized that we would work together. In addition, and very important to the plot, Nathan and Sidney had strong chemistry read within the first few minutes. They were perfect for the roles of Anders and Natalie. I am so fortunate to have them as actors in this project, and I can’t wait to start the production with them and hopefully continue working with them in future movies.
What can you tell to the future viewers, who are reading us, about the film? What things do you want the film to generate in them?
Firstly, I hope the film’s drama will entertain the audience. Secondly, I hope the audience will relate to the characters based on their own experience: nostalgia and a sense of bittersweetness about what is lost and further question the value of their dreams and the sacrifices they made to accomplish them. In addition, we will shoot the film entirely in Kodak’s Motion Picture Super 16 and Super 8 formats. I hope that people will appreciate the cinematic organic, naturalistic lighting look of Super 16 for the developing drama, contrasting to the nostalgic bittersweet feel of Super 8 for the memories the couple has.
What makes this project especially different from your previous works? What goals do you have for the film when it is premiered?
Well, I hope that the film finds its audience and people are able to connect with the film and ultimately be entertained. Like every filmmaker, I hope the film has a successful festival run that will reward my team and me for our hard work and help us fund future movies and get better working opportunities in the future.
I believe that is an evolution in certain stylistic styles such as shooting or having the look of the motion picture as seen in previous films From Charlie, with Love (2019) and Frame (2017) and further continue my evolution in the format, just as some of my favorite filmmakers like Spielberg who moved from amateur 8mm towards the more professional 16mm format. Thematically this film will continue most of the themes that I have explored in Frame, further questioning relationships and the meaning of our memories concerning our dreams.
A question for the lead actor and actress (Nathan Vincenti and Sidney RoseAnn White): Tell us about your decision to join the project and what you expect from it.
- Nathan Vincenti (first picture): Andres approached me about this project 2 years ago when the script was still in development. Our fast friendship made it obvious we should work together and andres felt our trust made me capable of portraying this character which in many ways takes heavily after Andres himself. What started as a scene for a directing workshop in a class at NYU Tisch, became a partnership and a process of telling this story about lost love, following your passion, and learning to let go. all I have ever expected from this project remains what I expect from it today, to hopefully realize Andres’ vision & truthfully explore the human experiences which Anders gives me the opportunity to go through.
In doing that, I’m hopefully a vessel for another person, another artist, to feel fully seen and heard—to express the things about the world and what we all go through that they wish to express.
I hope to create with this project a lasting and honest portrayal of what it means to live and love in your 20s in New York City today. In working on this project I have gotten the opportunity to play with some of the most amazing and talented people all while learning about myself in the process, that is the greatest gift—something I never expected but feel very grateful to have received from my time working on this project. IMDb Profile
- Sidney RoseAnn White (second picture): Andres first pitched this project to me back in October of 2021. Although I initially knew absolutely nothing about the man, we quickly became acquainted and have grown closer and closer with every talk. Andres is not just a director to me but a friend; someone I can rely on on a rainy day.
His ability to talk so openly, honestly, and passionately was one of the driving forces in my decision to join the project. I have never met a director so invested in not only getting to know the actors but also cultivating a safe, freeing environment where we are all able to collaborate and connect beyond the normal actor/director surface level.
When Andres first introduced me to the character Natalie, he spoke with such passion and love, which made my decision to join the film easy. I could tell he wanted, no, needed to tell this story. And so do I. My co-actor Nathan, who has been on this project far longer than I, is also one of the reasons I decided to take part. I first met him only a few months before I met Andres on a set for a scene called High Fidelity. Not only is he one of my favorite actors to work with but he is also one of my favorite people here in New York. The man is driven, fervent, and hilarious. With these two lovely people and our amazing crew, I expect nothing but love and authenticity from Is This It? We can’ t wait to show you our story.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak with you!
We will be attentive to your next works!
Madrid Film Awards I Press Team