Remember last December? You know the time when we were getting ready to celebrate holidays over Zoom calls and chant the countdown to 2021 in our PJs with the list of TV shows and movies to watch? Well, back then, we came across a Berlin-based film director and a .MEr who agreed to sit down with us and talk about getting a big break as a creative, even in times like these. Needless to say, we were over the moon. To prepare for the interview, we began binge-watching his last TV show on Netflix. But we’ll tell you all about it a bit later. Now, let’s focus on Gabriel and his advice on how to get a big break as a creative.
At times we can all feel overwhelmed and unable to move forward and accomplish our goals and dreams. Yet, getting a big break as a creative boils down to two things, as Gabriel Mariño explained. Throughout the interview, Gabriel talked about the importance of empathy, persistence in trying different approaches and mediums. But before we get ahead of ourselves, here’s a little bit about Gabriel.
About Gabriel Marino: Finding Empathy as a Film Director
Quite possibly, the quickest way to introduce Gabriel Mariño would be to say that Gabriel is a Mexico City raised, Berlin-based director whose work is recognised on an international level. Currently, Gabriel works as a director on advertisements and non-advertising projects for brands and organisations such as Fifa, Coca Cola, Corona & Sol, documentary and fiction series for the well known Mexican cultural TV networks, and global networks like Netflix. But we are afraid that while our intro is factually correct, it doesn’t do him justice.
In a two hour interview, we spoke about Gabriel’s beginnings as a film director and his big breakthrough. Born in Mexico, Gabriel studied history at Mexico National University (UNAM) before deciding to change his degree to study Cinema. Upon graduating with honours as a film director from the Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica (CCC) in Mexico City in 2007, he won acclaim for his documentary ‘Bardo’.
Soon after, Gabriel was selected for an exchange program between the CCC and the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film (HHF) in Munich, Germany. The same year, he was invited to participate at a documentary workshop with filmmaker James Benning, and again in 2008 with Patricio Guzman.
From that point on, Gabriel collaborated with big industry names and reached people worldwide with his art. When asked what drives him to create, he said, finding ways to connect with people is his biggest motivator. “Seeking the anomalies in everyday stories, objects, spaces, and people, and trying to portray these rare occurrences in the best way I can. Finding empathy within what others might perceive strange, weird or uncommon circumstances,” said Gabriel.
The collective short film ‘Above the Clouds’ was a great example of this. The film focused on the pandemic experience from different cities around the world, made amidst the lockdown.
The Importance of Staying True To Yourself Regardless of the Industry We Work In
Gabriel says that he considers himself lucky for a living what he loves the most: creating images and stories that make someone feel something. “I believe that my necessity to convey feelings through images is a vital part of connecting to other people. Now more than ever, we need to build empathy,” Gabriel adds.
“But to anyone starting, I will say that they have to be true to themselves, in filmmaking especially. The relationship you create through your work with the audience needs to be the one of constant intention – the intention of transferring the emotion and idea, but also the intention of exposure of views in your work,” said Gabriel.
So stay true to that first idea that appeared in your gut, the one that created a spark that propelled everything. Certainly, awards and prizes are excellent, but chasing after them and constant likes and shares might delude the actual sight of who you are and what you have to show to the world.
Try Different Approaches and Mediums
It is easy to overlook just how much effort, persistence and patience it took to achieve our dreams. Once the road less travelled is behind us, we tend not necessarily to forget but oversimplify our hardships. While those who are starting their journeys and pursuing a big break as creative, things often appear impossible. Gabriel is a perfect example of how persistence and trying different approaches and mediums can help with a big break.
“Using different mediums had allowed me to grow more, especially in times when equipment such as a 35mm camera was out of my reach. Everyone should explore different approaches to their craft, as this creates infinite possibilities, but it’s also exciting and creatively challenging. It will make you think differently and see yourself and your work from a different perspective.
I kept on trying different things and applying for various grants until I got my big break. Take a word of advice: Be persistent. I know if I hadn’t, I’d still be living in my parents’ home waiting for a project to make my dream film,” said Gabriel.
As a creative, you have to flex your muscles and seek different solutions in order to get noticed. Try to find a different angle or medium. Acquire different skills and learn how to use various tools, even those you don’t think you’d necessarily need. Because by widening your horizons and expanding your path, you’ll grow as a creative person.
“Audio-visual has always been changing with the development of technology. But we mustn’t forget that while our tools are changing the essence remains. Discovering and using other mediums will help us gain a better understanding and grow as artists, by challenging us. And at one particular point this was the only way for me to make cinema”, said Gabriel.
Why Gabriel Chose to Create a Website
It wasn’t until Gabriel moved to Berlin that he saw the need to create a personal website that would showcase his work. He says that back in Mexico, there were indeed a few colleagues who had their online portfolios, but that was more of a rarity rather than a rule. But once he moved to Europe, it became apparent to him that without a website he wouldn’t be taken as seriously.
“Networking is no longer done face-to-face as a rule. Unlike in Mexico where I had a sense of the scene, the German cinematic industry was still largely unknown to me. So I began creating my website in the first months since I moved. And funnily enough, it became a creative project for me,” said Gabriel.
Since we couldn’t resist asking why Gabriel chose .ME for his domain name, he said “Look this might sound corny, but compared to other available domain names, .ME appeared refreshing. I saw it as an extension of who I am. Look this is me.”
Before You Go
Getting a big break as a creative is not an easy feat, persistence and working on ourselves is the key. And we understand that you might think this sounds like poorly defined and directed advice. Therefore, we invite you to check out Gabriel’s website, read his advice. Gabriel is a great example of how working on yourself and discovering different mediums can help your career growth.
Gabriel, thank you for such a great interview and we wish you the best of luck with your future endeavours. We couldn’t be happier because you’re a part of the .ME team!