Union Square, I miss you and your humid, crowded self filled with legions of NYU frosh, investment bankers who are taking their 3 minute lunches, Fashion PR ladies who down their iced coffees on their way to the garment district, and random people doing dances for cash.
I do not, however, miss the giant rats who like to scurry by your feet while you’re trying to eat lunch. Ya heard?
I spent time working at the Maritime Hotel right after graduating from college and I saw lots of crazy people. Rich people. Celebrities. People who spend their lives navigating the hotel nightclub scene..so I had to link this NEW YORK MAGAZINE ARTICLE.
The boutique hotels of New York City can be ultra exclusive and very much a “You’re not cool enough to be here,” type scene. When you work there, you become this fly on the wall to these antics. Then again, I actually met the most interesting people in New York while at work, with earplugs in my ears so my hearing wouldn’t be impaired by the blaring music. Strange.
I’m loving this “Decade in 7 Minutes” video and I actually remember where I was in each of these moments. For example, during that New York power outage, my friends and I ended up bar-hopping and not sleeping for more than 30 hours straight. We ended up eating pretzels, balance bars (what’s my obsession with these..not sure) and lots of cheapo wine. Sigh.
Hey guys, we’ve been on a roll with these videos and just shot one with Juan Carlos Mazorra, a director/producer who has worked on top hip-hop music videos and more. We caught up with him during a Recording studio session….
This is me in the Recording booth… HOLLA! As you can tell by my toothy grin, I was very excited to be there.
And here’s me and Juan Carlos.
Stay tuned for the Video interview! We talked a lot about how to get started in following your passions in life. Really good content. PEACE!
Juan Carlos Mazorra is a friend of mine from the days when I first started out in Entertainment, in New York City, where hustling (meaning working hard, not that other definition) is just a way of life. He’s an accomplished music video director with credits including, “New York,” by Ja Rule featuring Fat Joe and Jadakiss, to videos by Ashanti. Recently, he finished his feature directorial debut of “Children of the Killing Fields,” a full-length feature film about child trafficking and prostitution in Cambodia and the United States. I recently caught up with him to ask him a few questions about how he keeps his hustle on.
So Juan Carlos, how did you get into directing?
Well I decided to go into the movie biz after watching “Natural Born Killers” for the first time. At the time I was basically wasting time in community colleague studying to enter a physical therapy program. I was also working part time at Hollywood Video, and I remember renting “Pulp Fiction” and “Natural Born Killers.” That was really the beginning of it all. I remember saying “that’s what I wanna do” as soon as the movie was over. So, then I told my mother I was going to back out of my journey on becoming a PT and try the movies. I’m not one of those kids who have been shooting movies from the age of 9 or anything like that, but I’ve always enjoyed movies. Once I decided to go into the ENT biz, my family would tell me stories of shows I would put on for them, and how I was always entertaining everyone growing up. Then I found a box of a bunch of old home movies I made with friends in high school. It hit me. “I can do this.” So from there I found a film school, Full Sail Recording Arts in Orlando, FL. I went and checked it out; packed my stuff from Houston in a U-Haul and headed to Florida.
What would you tell some young kid with a DV camera and a dream?
SHOOT!!! Don’t worry about what you don’t have, and shoot with what you do have. Get a story, get some friends or local student actors and shoot. Then learn the tools and language of film making and JUMP IN.
Craziest story about directing?
LOL. Well I can’t tell you the craziest story, but I do remember one time when I was shooting Ja Rule’s New York video, during Fat Joe’s of Terror Squad set-up we ran into a problem. It was about 2 or 3pm when all of a sudden over 300 kids filled the streets where we were shooting. Ed Lover had announced the location of the video shoot over the radio and I think every kid in NYC came out to support. As a director, I loved the fact that all the kids came out to support their favorite rapper, but as a producer it was a nightmare. First, it slowed down everything because we now had hundreds of people in and around our shots. I just kept shooting because I knew it was adding a big look for the video. Then in the middle of my shot Irv Gotti come up to me with my 1st AD and says “Juan Carlos, the cops are about to shut us down. How much more do u need?” I thought to my self, damn I need another set up. Gotti then told me that he had been talking to the set Officer and he said that is was to big of a liability with all these kids around and would have to shut us down. I said “What, no way!” I knew there was no way to get the kids off the streets. I mean come on, These kids were around some of their favorite rappers. They ain’t going no where. I knew the only chance I had was to talk to the Officer. I remember as it was just the other day. Gotti said “OK, you go talk to him then.” as he pointed to the Officer in the sea of people. I don’t remember what I exactly said, but I begged not to shut us down. I told him I would finish as quick as possible and that we would get out of the Bronx without anyone getting hurt. He wasn’t buying it. I then began to explain the importance of this video being shot completely, and how I had all the different artist from different labels all together as one. I told him, “Do you realize what is happening right now on this video. There is no beef amongst all the different rappers on this video. Everyone has come together to support New York’s rap scene.”
The Officer was born and raised in NY and I think he understood what I was trying to tell him. He looked at me and said, “OK, just hurry up.” I thanked him and ran off to the camera and said “let’s shoot!” At the end, the footage came out amazing. One of my hottest stuff. I feel a big part of directing/producing is beingable to put out fires on the stop with losing it. It’s true when the stars line up for you, its a magical moment. That Officer played a big part in the video. Thank You again.
That guy must feel pretty cool right now. On a different note, how much has the change in technology affected your job as a director?
I think all the new technology is great. It has made independent film-making better. When I was in film school the technology was drastically changing in the Post dept, so I’m used to this. Things are always going to change, so label me a film maker that changes with the technology.
Everything is changing! So what’s on your playlist right now?
Oh, I’m into T.I., M.I.A., Radio Head, Kanye, Timberland, The Dream, Reggae music, Snoop Dogg, The Knife, Brazilizn Girls, The Killers, I could go on and on. I listen to a wide range of music.
So…you’ve accomplished a lot already, but I know you have a ton that you’d still like to do. What’s your biggest hope/dream/goal with your directing career?
The goal is to have people leave the theater after watching my movie and say something like “Wow, that was a great movie. Juan Carlos told a good story.”
Amen. Thanks for the words, Juan Carlos, and here’s the music video for “New York,” by Ja Rule featuring Jadakiss and Fat Joe.
This is a predominantly picture post, and thought you’d enjoy some pictures of Brooklyn and downtown NYC. I love the Union Square area, even though it’s become hugely commercial, even more so than when I was an NYU student. It’s super crowded, but the area is quite alive and vibrant.
So…here are some Brooklyn shots.
14th/6th Ave in downtown Manhattan. Random pic, but just love this shot.
Just in case, Trader Joe’s is too crowded.
It started snowing on New Year’s Eve as I approached the Union Square Farmers’ Market.
They have the best apples. Seriously.
And my former dorm, Carlyle Hall.
And right next door is Coffee Shop and this Juice Bar where you can grab some green juice to feel healthy though the juice may look like green sludge. It’s Good for YOU! I talked to Juan, a 7 year veteran, of the juice bar, and there were several European tourists behind me who were like, “What is she doing with this contraption taping this poor guy?”
As I sit in my friend’s apartment on New Year’s Eve, television blaring, and people filling up the apartment, I’m kind of in shock at the past year’s events. Election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first African-American President, the Economic downturn, the Dip in the Financial Markets, Housing Crisis, and the Madoff Scandal. It almost seems as though things couldn’t be more depressing or negative, right?
Yes and no. Yes, because you only need to turn on CNBC or MSNBC to see the latest stock market dips or stories about families that have lost their savings, but what do people do in times of strife and struggle? Well, you either give up or develop this thing called RESILIENCE.
What is resilience? Merriam-Webster.com says that, “Resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”
So do it. Invest in yourself. Here are a few helpful tips:
Find your Talent/Passion. Maybe you’re an excellent cook and have always wanted to cook for a living, but weren’t sure how. Start small, maybe start writing a food blog and create a following. The best thing about the Internet is that you can start a blog for free, or upload videos to youtube. People can hear what you have to say, and you don’t have to ask for approval from a “suit” to do so.
Stay Positive. I’ve always admired resilient people who have positive ways of dealing with every situation. Whenever I feel myself becoming too negative, I have to take a step back and say, “Okay, what do you have to be thankful for?” Life is weird and takes you on these odd twists and turns that you can’t control. So just fasten your seat belt and put on a smile. At least those are free.
The Best Things in Life are Free. Okay, yeah, I know this is a lyric to a song with words like, “I Want Money. That’s What I Want.” Well, duh, that’s what we all want. But I’ve known/met lots of people throughout my life who have full bank accounts and empty lives, which is when I saw firsthand that money doesn’t buy happiness. It does buy a lot of cool shit, but it won’t buy you love, kindness, generosity, humility or joy. These things are completely free, and every single person on this earth is capable of having them.
Change What You’re Not Satisfied With. Have you been neglecting your “Me” time? Do you find yourself exhausted at the end of the week, wondering, “What am I supposed to be doing with my life?” This is actually really difficult, but just start on that path to figuring out where the next step should be for you, professionally or personally. The quicker you do this, the sooner you’ll be on that path.
Take a Risk. When I first started on my path as an actress and writer, I had no support from anyone and would question my sanity on a daily basis. All I had was my inner voice that told me, “Um… this is your dream, so do it.” So, while my friends took jobs in Finance, I waitressed, worked temp jobs, got an agent, did short films, and tried to say sane. Was it really hard? Yes. Was I broke and struggling? Hell yeah.
Do I regret it? Never.
I think 2009 will be a year of change for many, hopefully it will be a change for a more positive light for this country and world. Whether you’re laid off or not, we’re all going to be in the same boat, so I suggest that you keep your head up, stay positive, and focus on what you have to do. Keep Hustin’
Oh yeah. SHOUT-OUT TO MARK CHARRAN… WE FINISHED THE ENTIRE FIRST DRAFT OF OUR FEATURE PROJECT!!! We still have a couple of edits to do, but it really felt kick-ass to finish!!!
DAY ONE OF NEW YORK TRIP:
I’m resting comfortably at my friend’s place in Brooklyn while blogging/watching “Sex and the City,” and am basically wired from too much coffee. It’s so strange to be back in New York because whenever I visit, there’s a part of me that just feels like hopping on the subway back to the old apartment.
Anyway, here’s what I left when leaving Los Angeles on United Airlines (Plane ticket was courtesy of my college friend, Jessie, who had a free ticket and I was happy to take it off her hands.)
And I did grab a cup of joe from 7-11 before heading to LAX and saw this “Bimbo” brand of bread. I had to take a pic because no one would believe me that there’s a brand of bread called “Bimbo.”
The best part was that they accidentally upgraded me to First class which was awesome. Here’s the Media player where I caught up on episodes of Entourage, How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, and then part of “Pineapple Express,” before I completely passed out. Plus, the seat turned into a bed, which was EXCELLENT and before I knew it, we had landed at JFK Airport.
The thing about being an East coaster who now lives in LA is that your blood seems to thin out or something. If you’re in NYC, be sure that you have thick gloves, scarves, and a coat. No, not a jacket. A COAT. A really thick one.
I hopped on the Air Train to the Howard Beach A train, and then got on the A train with carry on bag. Here’s a blurry pic from the AirTrain.
Soon, I got to Brooklyn and took pictures of my friend’s neighborhood. As you can tell, with this current recession, you can get CRAZY deals.
We ended up going to “Building on Bond,“ to catch up and grab some tea and a bite to eat. This place has a wooden interior and is really cozy, cute, and the prices aren’t too bad. We got Cubanos and Dr. Vu’s amazing marinated wings. I hadn’t eaten much all day and was starving. Those wings definitely hit the spot.
Being back in NYC is like riding a bike. You don’t ever really forget it, and once you get back into the groove of life here, it’s like you never left.
I love New York Magazine, perhaps because of its snarky intelligence and just great, great writing. Here’s their list of “Reasons to Love New York.”
I’m going to be in NYC next week and basically can’t wait because I haven’t been there in a year and a half. It’s definitely a city of resilience and where you become street-smart, whether you want to or not. I’ve lived in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens, as well as riding the wondrous vehicle known as the N/R. Early morning commutes where you’re scrunched up against a Wall Street type to your left, a Brooklyn hipster to your right, and then a panhandler right in front of you, that opens his jacket and tries to sell you batteries. You’re thinking, “Wow. Can I just read my Page Six in peace?” I Love NY.
So, I just wanted to say that I’M GOING TO NYC DURING THE LAST WEEK OF DECEMBER!!!. One of my best friends, Jessie Langbein, had a free ticket voucher and asked if I’d like to use it. My response: UM… IS THAT EVEN A REAL QUESTION?!!
I haven’t been to NYC in a year in a half, and I plan to blog/videoblog my entire trip. I’m going to visit my former NYU campus and visit all the old haunts/locales that my friends and I used to frequent. I’m pretty sure that people will ignore me in the streets if I ask them for an interview, but hey, a girl’s gotta try. (See, I know this because this is what I used to do) Gotta love NY.
Yo. My name is Kat Ahn, and I started this blog to maintain my sanity while working at a tech start-up. Who am I? A Philly-born Actress/Writer/Performer. A former people pleaser who has a penchant for drawing bad stick figure cartoons and rapping spoof songs. Did I mention my parents' own a cheesesteak shop called Boo's? True story.
Meghan Moeller at Principato Young Entertainment
(310) 274- 4474