Posts Tagged giovanna aguilar

U.S. Embassy Celebrated American Heritage Month in Ecuador with DreamTown Screenings

My recent trip to Ecuador….

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This past February, I had the pleasure of traveling to Ecuador, courtesy of the U.S. Embassy and by invitation of Ambassador Todd C. Chapman, for screenings of DreamTown in celebration of African American Heritage Month and Afro-Ecuadorian culture.

As the producer representing our team, Director Betty Bastidas (Maracuya Productions) and Producer Christian Mejía Acosta (Retrogusto Films), I was incredibly touched to participate in an event honoring African culture through a film showing the struggles that three soccer players from the impoverished community of Chota Valley — Anibal Chala, Carlos Maldonado and World Cup player Ulises de la Cruz — face on their path to a better future through the sport.

Traveling to Quito, my birthplace, with a project that has been so close to me for the past few years was truly inspirational and a dream come true. DreamTown was not an easy production to complete, between following three distinct stories from the U.S. and then raising funds to ensure the film would be completed (2 successful Kickstarter campaigns and many grants), the experience was one of personal and professional growth.


Throughout these years, I have met so many people from various communities — storytellers, filmmakers, soccer aficionados, high school and college students, business, civic and community leaders, mother and fathers, brothers and sisters and families — who shared how they were impacted by a story that underscores the reality that “the other” in society confronts while reaching for a dream. For some, that dream is accomplished with hard work and unwavering consistency, for others that dream may transform itself into a more attainable goal while remaining noble in its cause. After all, we all are looking for belonging and a purpose in life.

DreamTown has been a long and winding journey for each of us on the production team. What is interesting is that while we, independent filmmakers and storytellers, work on our passion projects, we too experience the same forms of struggle in completing our projects. So much goes into a production and so much more goes into getting the word out and building our audiences.

Showing our film in Ecuador, where DreamTown was shot and where the heart of the story is, during its final stage of the film festival circuit before acquisition and distribution, was one of the highlights of my career. Seeing engaged audiences, watching them react to specific scenes, hearing them laugh during lighter moments, and answering questions from the audience, was a profound personal experience. This is the reason why I love being a filmmaker. For me it’s simple, my commitment is to share stories that give voice to underserved communities with the goal to inspire compassion and motivate others to connect to universal themes celebrating the human spirit.

Again, I’d like to thank the incredible support DreamTown and I received from the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador Todd. C. Chapman and the following: Program Officers (Quito) Nazanin Berarpour, PDO; Alexandra Anda, Outreach Coord; Program Officers (Guayaquil) Erin Markley, PDO; Carlos Coello, Cultural Affairs Asst.

Also, a BIG Thank you to Diego Arcos (TC Television), Lucciola Gonzales, Director of Fundación Afroamerica XXI, Jorge León (Duran Mayor’s Assistant), Juan Martin Cueva, Director of the School of Film at the Universidad de las Artes, Dr. Carlos de la Torre (FLACSO), Victoria Proaño (UTN), Helene Sikos/Juan Fernando Verdesoto/Michelle Dávila (Yachay University), Jorge Luis Narváez (at Centro Cultural Ibarra del Ministerio de Cultura). If I have inadvertently left someone out, I apologize.

Diario El Norte, El Comercio, Ecuador TV, UTN TV Station, Radio Publica del Ecuador, El Telégrafo

The U.S. Embassy Organized the following screenings of DreamTown in Ecuador at:

· El Nacional with youth soccer players (Tumbaco)

· Centro Cultural Ibarra del Ministerio de Cultura

· Yachay University (Urcuquí)

· Universidad Técnica del Norte (Ibarra)

· FLACSO (Quito)

· Public Screening at Super Cines (Quito)

· Defensoría del Pueblo (Guayaquil)

· Centro de Convenciones (Duran)

· Universidad de las Artes (Guayaquil)

· CEN Centro (Guayaquil)


Interview with Top NJ-NY Personal Injury Attorney Rosemarie Arnold

On January 24, 2018, Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University doctor. That same week I sat with another Rosemarie and who has been on the SuperLawyers List in NJ and NY for over a decade.

Meet Rosemarie Arnold, a personal injury civil attorney who has been a powerful advocate for victims of sexual harassment and assault. For the majority of victims whose cases don’t make it to criminal court, there is the civil personal injury option, and this informative interview will help shed light on the process.

This interview is part of the transmedia initiative WeToo that is in development with a group of impassioned artists located around the world (scheduled for release Summer 2018).

Thank you for tuning in.

WeToo Transmedia Initiative In Development  to Launch Summer 2018

The #MeToo Movement has been a catalyst for many of us who have had direct experience with sexual abuse, harassment and assault. Whether we were direct victims who became empowered survivors after climbing the mountain of individual or group therapy, or perhaps we were the ones offering needed compassion and support to a friend or family member, the reality is that we, men and women, need to come together to promote healing and understanding.

As storytellers and survivors, we feel a responsibility to share stories through WeToo that can help others feel connected to our experiences and that healing is possible, as well as empowerment. Stay tuned for more information in the coming weeks.

Credits:

I’d like to thank Rosemarie Arnold and her team at her law firm for all the support. Director Photography Claudio Flaygolz, Editor Roman Rojas, and also Jen Begeal and Ellen Mendlow of Storyforward.

When We Were Apollo Documentary – Countdown to Kickstarter Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

John Filson
Producer | Campaign Manager
filson52@gmail.com
202-821-5331

Giovanna Aguilar
Producer | Media Relations
gaguilar@candescoproductions.com


When We Were Apollo, a New Documentary Film about Apollo’s Undiscovered Heroes Launches Crowdfunding Campaign on Kickstarter, September 26, 2017 

Doing the big, impossible things brings out the best of ourselves.

Los Angeles, California, September 13, 2017 — Contact Light Films announced today the first phase of funding for its feature-length documentary film When We Were Apollo (W3A), currently in pre-production, to launch via the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter on September 26, 2017.

Space exploration, physics, technology and the pure spirit of innovation owe an eternal debt to the astronauts and NASA figureheads who took us to the moon.

But what about Apollo’s lesser-known heroes —the builders, technicians and engineers who also committed themselves to the mission? What was that intangible spirit of tackling the impossible that made them succeed? Where is that spirit today?

Stories of local heroes are resonating with diverse audiences, from the history buff to the space aficionado, from Baby Boomers to Generation Y, and with people in the United States and around the world. When We Were Apollo is uniquely positioned to capture, engage and grow audiences with the real-life accounts of local heroeswhose stories are yet to be shared.

Watch Preview

“In When We Were Apollo, and in your team’s vision, we see a compelling and timely aspirational narrative in humanity’s reach toward new frontiers, one that transcends the boundaries of race and class, and the differences of individuals in America.”
–  Jeff Gomez, CEO and Founder of Starlight Runner Entertainment.

“We appreciate all the ways that heroes of yesterday and today embody the spirit of Apollo in their daily lives—that conviction that dreaming big and tackling the impossible is really, really important,”      –  Zack Weil, Director of When We Were Apollo

About the project:

When We Were Apollo introduces audiences to several unknown heroes from Apollo’s workforce, and reveals what putting a human being on the moon meant to them. It will also feature young people from the newest generation focused on the next giant leaps for mankind, and what wisdom Apollo’s heroes offer for their journey.

When We Were Apollo aims for impact beyond the film:

  • A participatory effort to capture part of our history we would otherwise lose as the Apollo generation begins to exit the world’s stage
  • Online engagement and partnerships with popular organizations before and after the film help uncover Apollo stories no one has heard before
  • To create a compilation of new full-length interviews with Apollo heroes beyond the segments that appear in the film.

Production will begin in Dec. 2017 and slated to shoot on location in Huntsville, Alabama; Houston, Texas; and Cape Canaveral, Florida. The film will premiere in 2019, in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing in 1969.


About the W3A Kickstarter Campaign:

The Kickstarter campaign launches Sept. 26th and wraps on Oct. 31. It will fund the first phase of filming, which includes the main interviews with several undiscovered Apollo heroes. Backing this campaign means helping to preserve a piece of our history we will otherwise lose. It also sends the message that people still believe in the spirit that Apollo’s heroes embodied: a community coming together to tackle the huge, “impossible” things facing humankind. (Media teams: Click here to privately preview the Kickstarter campaign page.)

In addition to a special advanced release of the film, backers can receive:

  • an Apollo Oral History—a compilation of full-length interviews not seen in the film
  • a hardcover photobook and behind-the-scenes video of the production process, and
  • plenty of When We Were Apollo memorabilia and other incentives.

CREATIVE AND PRODUCING TEAM:

Director Zack Weil, at Contact Light Films

Producers Giovanna Aguilar and John Filson

Director of Photography Kyle McConaghy

Co-Producer Sterling Macer

Post-Production Company

Park Avenue Post

Attached to the W3A production is world-renowned transmedia expert Jeff Gomez, CEO and Founder of Starlight Runner Entertainment.

For more information:

Website: www.whenwewereapollo.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SpiritOfApollo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SpiritOfApollo/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/apollomovie/

 

CONTACT:

John Filson
Producer | Campaign Manager
filson52@gmail.com
202-821-5331

Giovanna Aguilar
Producer | Media Relations
gaguilar@candescoproductions.com

 

 

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Empanada Fork Inventor Hipatia Lopez Would Like You to Know You Are Not Alone

Empanada Fork Inventor Hipatia Lopez Would Like You to Know You Are Not Alone —HSN Project American Dreams Empowers Latino Entrepreneurs to Reach 90+ Million Households

by Giovanna Aguilar

“Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” — Seneca

Inspiring. Driven. Made of Steel and Ignited on Full Blast by the American dream.

That is the Latina entrepreneur, inventor Hipatia Lopez who is in good company too. She is part of the demographic that represents the highest increase in female business ownership of any race or ethnic group between 2017 to 2012 when businesses owned by Hispanic women grew 87 percent, from 800,000 to 1.5 million, according to data from the Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners. She holds a design patent for a handy stainless steel kitchen utensil — The Empanada Fork — from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, placing her within an elite group of Hispanic women inventors who are fewer than 1 percent of U.S. patent holders.

Last month I interviewed Lopez at Home Shopping Network’s NYC office where she and four other winners of HSN Project American Dreams participated in an intense boot camp to prepare for the opportunity to pitch their products live, on March 13, 2017, to over 90 million households. HSN Project American Dreams provides “the tools and resources to build brand awareness and keep team members on board with what the product is, why it was created, and who would benefit fro using it.”

 

As a foodie, I confess that I love empanadas and with all sorts of fillings. In Ecuador, where my family is from, empanadas are usually fried, filled with cheese and served with sprinkled sugar on top for a little added crunchy sweetness to the savory experience. But, if you are like me, you opt out of making them. Why? Because they can be a pain to make by the dozens. Getting the pastry dough to close tightly with our fingers or the kitchen fork is time-consuming and thumb-numbing.

Hipatia’s journey to invention began while making about 100 empanadas for her family’s holiday party. As part of the Lopez family tradition, she and her husband give out bottled water and empanadas to guests as they leave. Frustrated by the empanada-making dilemma, she took on the challenge to figure out a way to make the process easier and convenient.

Lopez, an accountant whose parents are immigrants from Quito, Ecuador, tapped into her company Christmas bonus and the support of her family. Initially, she had mixed feelings. “As a mom, you feel guilty spending money on yourself. I basically held a little family meeting at my house, my kids were a lot younger then, but to my surprise, they were all like ‘that would be so cool, mom being an inventor,’” she shares.

While initially, she felt alone, she quickly realized that there was a whole community sharing her passion for the American dream of business ownership and success. She was proactive and connected with like-minded visionaries and joined organizations such as the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, recognized in 2016 as the best chamber in the USA by the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “You’re really not by yourself even though you feel like you are because sometimes you feel like you can’t turn to someone because you are afraid of what they think of your failures. I had a lot of bumps in the road and shed a lot of tears. But you have to realize the whole human aspect of it.”

Lopez is extremely grateful that HSN Project American Dreams helps Hispanic entrepreneurs like her make their dreams a reality.

“With HSN you hit so many people from different avenues and nationalities. I mean it is television and that by itself is a dream come true.”

Her vision is to see her invention used across restaurants and stamped with their logos.

However, Hipatia underscores that the opportunity to sell on HSN, every entrepreneur’s dream, was not reached overnight. It took her about four years of a lot of hard work, from concept to design to production to networking. Her first prototype of the Empanada Fork was made of plastic and did not work well, so the final version was made with stainless steel to make it sturdy. Thanks to the ease of the hand press, empanadas can be made by the dozens conveniently and without any frustration. She highlights the benefit of her handy and reliable kitchen utensil is that it is ideal for all types of stuffed-type dough foods such as calzones, apple turnovers, pierogies and more.

Yet not only does HSN provide an unparalleled platform for inventors like Lopez to reach millions of eager consumers but they also provide winners of Project American Dreams with a boot camp where they learn the tools to succeed as the voice of their brands from industry experts and mentors — Multicultural expert, CEO and co-founder of Cien + Lili Gil Valletta and “The Billion Dollar Man” and TV’s ORIGINAL Home Shopping host Bob Circosta, and U.S. Bank representatives.

To help “get their voice right,” Valletta prompts mentees with questions about the features and benefits of their merchandise and reminds them that consumers buy “WHY” you sell what you sell, not the “WHAT” of your product. In other words, entrepreneurs need to target their prospective consumers with why their product is going to make a buyer’s task or life easier.

Lopez who also won the HSN Project American Dreams $5,000 Social Media Award from U.S. Bank, for strategically tapping into her fast-growing online community, adds that the support she receives from her family, friends, industry peers and now as one of the winners of HSN Project American Dreams, has empowered her on a personal mission to rally behind other women to tell them they can be inventors too, because ‘women need to put their name down in history.”

She ends our interview with the self-realization that she is a fact a feminist whose “spark is ignited on full blast!”

Hipatia’s Tips on Keeping the Spark:

  • Build your online presence. Check out a recent article by Karen Gutierrez, “Social media success: Just stick a fork in it”
  • Let Google be your best friend. Hipatia’s reliable go-to- search engine helped her locate the manufacturing companies she needed and connect with like-minded networks and industry organizations such as the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey.
  • Encourage others. Your success relies on others success too. Be generous with your contacts and provide guidance to those starting out.
  • Don’t be intimidated. You are not alone in your quest for the American dream. Turn your fear into energy and connect with others who share your drive and vision.
  • If at fail at first try, try again. Remember the prototype of her Empanada Fork did not work yet she did not throw in the towel
  • Don’t say “No.” The sooner you eliminate the word “no” from your vocabulary the sooner you will be able to nurture much-needed positive reinforcement for the long haul.
  • Love what you do. You find your spark when you have the passion for what you do and if it’s making empanadas for your family and friends then that’s a great way to build a business around love.

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On Grant Writing: Top 10 Things to Consider When Submitting Grants

I Need $$$! Best Practices from Grant-Awarded Writer to Fund All Types of Programs

So, you are considering grants to fund your dream project or program. Perhaps you are a nonprofit, filmmaker or public school program in need of financial support. How do you begin the grant writing process? How do you bring to fruition your thoroughly researched idea?

January is not only for setting new year’s resolutions but also for planning your grant submission calendar. It is important for you to know that this is when most grantors restart their funding cycles.This represents an opportunity for you, but it must begin with a mix of preparation, patience and perseverance. Trust me, these three Ps are going to make all the difference in how you secure your first awarded grant — funds.

I got started writing grants by chance and out of utter necessity when one of my film projects, DreamTown, needed funding.

The director had sent me a previously submitted grant application that I wound up spending a couple of days rewriting expeditiously to beat the deadline. By the time it was completed, I had a severe migraine. My first tip to you: Do not do that – throw yourself into a tight deadline, especially the first time. It will deter you from the already draining process. Yes. It helped that I had a template to work from, which is essentially what your first application will be, a reusable document with key sections that include the project’s objectives, impact and budget.

Here’s the deal. I’m going to be straight with you. Whether you are writing the grant proposal yourself or hiring a professional, it takes work, a lot of work. Your job is to write effectively based on a strategy for your program. Let me reiterate this point, you must write based on a strategy for your program. This is nonnegotiable. You must have a strategy, a plan, in place, or a spin doctor-grant writer who knows your industry inside and out. Yes. I won’t lie. Luck and spin happen too.

Ultimately, though, securing grant funds is about selling your story to the grantor. And I must admit that filmmakers are deftly suited for this, which is why I am happily sharing insight into grant writing best practices that have worked for me across all types of programs. While the grant writing process is quite an arduous one, these 10 are a good start.

G’s —Top 10 Best Practices for Writing Winning Grants

1. Respect the Grant Writer. I start with this one because whether you are writing the proposal or hiring an expert, you will be asked to provide information. This is not an option. The sooner you get what is needed, the sooner the work can begin and be completed. For larger grant applications, you may be asked to provide audited financial statements, a tax exempt letter, and other pertinent documents or information. Respect the grant writer. There should be no chasing down for information.

2. Read the Grant’s Eligibility Requirements. Before you go any further, read the RFP’s or grant eligibility requirements. Go through the whole checklist and make sure they fund your type of program. For instance, will the grantor fund your project in your state? Is the grantor funding only STEM programs and yours is for dance? Does your organization need to be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to apply?

3. Who, What, Where, Why and How. Go back to the basics of every story and be ready to articulate concisely and effectively the following, but be as specific as you can be:

Who Is your program or project going to benefit or target?
What is your program going to do?
Where will the program take place?
Why is your program so important that the grantor must fund it?
How will you ensure that you can do what you are proposing with the funding?

4. What needs funding? I know this is listed above, but you would be surprised how often the obvious question is the one that is least thoroughly considered. In my experience, this is a typical situation for public or government-funded programs, unfortunately. Wanting a lot of money, let’s say $100k, for the science department is not enough. You must present a program with defined objectives.

5. Be concise as you persuade the grantor to buy your story. Most applications are submitted via the grantor’s online platform. As a result, make sure your copy is not over each section’s character limit. I recommend using your handy Word count tool, as you go. Trust me. You will kick yourself at 11:58 p.m. when your application is due at midnight, and you have to cut 100 words from each section.

6. Are matching funds required? Yes? You will know this by reading the grant eligibility requirements, but I cannot stress how overlooked this one is. You will need to know how much the grantor requires to be matched i.e. 50%, 25%. You will be asked to provide this line item in the budget along with corroborating materials.

7. Request letters of support. If this is an option, get letters from your most influential supporters. Grantors are very interested in your resourcefulness, which also means you have a chance to brag about who you know and why they love you and your project. You can make the request easier by writing the letters yourself and sending them to your supporters for approval. Just make sure the letters are returned to you on company letterhead and with the appropriate signatures. This is common practice in the grant writing process.

8. What is your program’s impact? You can start by explaining the demographics of your target audience and how they will be positively affected or influenced by your program. This is where you really get to open up about the heart of your cause. Are you producing a story about an underserved, under-represented community? Research previously awarded grantees and study what type of impact they have had.

9. Prepare a realistic and thorough budget. Make sure you have a line-by-line budget of your project’s expenses and then get ready to write summaries of what each line means and how they all connect to the whole project.

10. Be patient and try and try again. Getting awarded a grant is ultimately like playing a numbers game that includes a mix of great storytelling, a program strategy and a justifiable, realistic budget. Grantors must be wowed by your proposal and be persuaded to trust you with their money. Note. As part of the numbers game, you can continue to tweak your living, breathing grant proposal, because that is what it will be. There is always room to color the story with another layer, shade, tint… OK. You get the picture. Each submission is an opportunity to improve your story.

On Vérité with Emmy Nominated Director-Writer-Producer Reinaldo Marcus Green

On Vérité Top List:  “What do you wish you had known on your first independent film?”

Reinaldo Marcus Green, one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film (2015) and recipient of the Spike Lee Film Production Grant 2016 (Monsters and Men,) shares best practices with Giovanna Aguilar on filmmaking.

On Vérité Top List for Independent Filmmakers is complementary content for an upcoming written article to be published on my blog at Giovanna Aguilar.

Watch Reinaldo Marcus Green’s acclaimed short film STOP—a young man’s livelihood is put to the test when he gets profiled and stopped by the police on his way home from practice, courtesy of Conde Nast’s steaming platform The Scene.

Giovanna Aguilar

501(C) (3) Organization Certified Angels Begins Grant Funding Initiative for Youth Arts Center and Arts Program to Serve Adolescents in Passaic, NJ

Join me in supporting the non-profit 501(C)(3) organization Certified Angels whose mission is to provide a safe haven for adolescents in Passaic, NJ.

I am excited to share that I am working with Certified Angels to facilitate grant funding opportunities for the establishment of their proposed arts center at a designated location (to be secured) and to roll out a comprehensive after-school arts program with a career track that will serve children and adolescents living in the City of Passaic and surrounding communities.

Passaic is an underserved community that in 2013 had a population of 70,868, 71% Latinos, with a median household income of $37,332, or an estimated per capita income of $15,249. Certified Angels recognizes the tremendous financial need of the City of Passaic and the significance of offering arts programs in one of the poorest communities in New Jersey that without the foundation’s support would not be able to have access to theater, music and dance training.

Certified Angels supports after-school programs in the arts for youth as being highly effective tools to empower youth by giving them the opportunity to explore their creative, artistic sides, which in turn can complement youth’s self-esteem and confidence. Certified Angels’ vision is to incorporate a career track by offering dance, acting and music classes led by professionals in their respective fields.

Certified Angels is the brainchild of Founder and CEO Jessica Delacruz,

8ae6bc_8cb65c4cb1e94d2b9fb591954a634071Certified Angels is the brainchild of Founder and CEO Jessica Delacruz, who graduated from William Paterson University in 2014, where she received a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. Delacruz has a passion for working with the youth of Passaic that began through her employment at organizations such as NJ After 3, the Boys and Girls Club of Passaic/Paterson, Urban Crisis Council Daycare, and the Passaic Board of Education.

Delacruz shares that Certified Angels allows her to fulfill her lifelong dream of “making a difference.”

Certified Angels Mission

Our mission is to create a safe space for our youth and children to find comfort in who they are, discover their talents and learn how to share them with the world. We focus on developing a healthy balance of mind, body and soul by encouraging creativity, physical activity and self awareness. Certified Angels is a non- profit that aims to create an atmosphere where our members feel embraced for who they are and supported in their journeys to become the best version of themselves

For more information visit, Certified Angels.

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