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Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Writer/Director Alexander Clavijo of Motel Paradise

This week's Filmmaker Spotlight focuses on writer and director Alexander Clavijo, whose film was showcased at the AT&T center as part of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles. Learn about his film, Motel Paradise as he discusses making the film, lessons he's learned and where you can catch him next.

Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.  

The idea for Motel Paradise came to me two years ago. I would ride my bike through downtown LA during late nights to clear my head and would often see these run down motels that housed some sketchy individuals. When I finally decided on taking my thoughts further it took me about one year from page to screen.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?

My girlfriend Nancy and her mother Maria and my mother Alexandria.

How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at the AT&T Center?

You guys probably view hundreds of shorts, so to have mine accepted is a cool feeling.

What inspires you?

I am mostly inspired by people who take chances. There’s always going to be changes, fallouts, and people who think you will never make it when you’re turning a small idea into something big. It’s a risky way of living but I can only hope it pays off someday.

Who are your influences and who do you admire?

I usually listen to music when I’m writing. I have a specific playlist I usually play that consist of Bjork, Joy Division, and Miles Davis. The lyrics and sound influence my thought process. I admire Godard, early Scorsese, and Terrence Malick.

What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?

In the beginning, I learned that you have to do things on your own until you get discovered. I feel like there’s different aspects of the business you have to learn. From budgeting, finding a crew, and sound...etc.  All these elements are important in a film, if you can grasp each one of them you will have an easier transition into making that film

If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?

Wow, tough question. So many people I’d love to work with. Director, it has to be Wong Kar-Wai. Not only  are his films visually unique, highly stylized, he’s a great storyteller.Another person would be  actor Gael Garcia Bernal. I like the roles he chooses for himself, it seems that he takes his time and does his research.

What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?

Convincing motel managers to let us shoot on their property for two days on a low budget. We got a lot of “NO WAY”.  We finally found one in South Central three days before  the shoot.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

Don’t rush it...take your time. David Lynch told me that at a book signing.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?

There’s this feeling you get when you know it’s the “right time” to shoot the project. Everything is in place. I also learned that many people will reject you and your ideas but as long as you keep a positive attitude and save a lot of money, you should just shoot the damn thing.

Where can we expect to see you next?

At this moment, I’m writing the feature script for Motel Paradise with my writing partner Lilia Fabry. Trying to get funding for it, and hopefully direct my first feature next year.

Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.

You can find my other shorts on Youtube, Vimeo, and Facebook. My website will be up very soon along with my reel.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just keep on making good films...

For more information, visit:

About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner, LA Youth Newspaper and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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