My storytelling comes from a place of complete and total unknown. Its almost like a surrender to all things worldly to truly be present with the words and emotions a script conveys. I get lost in the story and allow for the visuals that I create to pave a pathway forward as I film.
I want to shoot stories that speak to the complicated journey that is finding oneself. Even then, the films themselves pale in comparison to the communities and relationships I've built around them. I've come to see community as a natural extension (or perhaps collective form) of identity.
As an emerging cinematographer from a first-generation Thai American background, I've been focused on telling stories that amplify marginalized voices.
Raquel “Rocky” Avalos
For any story, I really care for the naturalness of acting such as the reactions of characters, whether without words or with, are so important to me in making the audience believe the scene. Being able to focus on a character alone in a scene is also important to me in building how that character feels space and their own space.
Through my work, I like to explore the multi-faceted experience of being a first generation immigrant in America and I set a lot of my films in my hometown of New York City. Some themes I cover in my work include gentrification, motherhood, community and spirituality.
With editing, I still get to inspire my audience by the content I cut & stories I tell, much like how I would have done if I continued in animation. Now whenever I edit a new short film, or have creative discussions with my editors on our shows, the first images and references that pop to mind are animation shows and films.
The stories that I'm drawn to often center around mental health, loneliness, and the ways that we as humans connect. As a black woman, I recognize a hole in our industry when it comes to these themes and people that share my intersecting identities. This is my mission as an artist: to find those projects and work to make sure those stories get told
As a Black-Queer Filmmaker, joining many others in telling stories that humanize us and prioritize our visibility, the goal is always a certain truth. So often in our lives, we hide behind lies or half-truths, looking to each other and sometimes the media we consume to validate our experiences.
To me, an artist, within any medium, is required to have a vision. An artist must see all possibilities of an idea; to recognize its miraculous potential, and then to ensure the miraculous idea actualizes into reality by first accepting that the environment, intention, and "that feeling" are required to invite the most rewarding and impactful outcomes.
Having studied pre-med in college, I have always looked at the world as a living organism. I use my background in biology to not only lead with empathy but help advance stories. I believe you can use science to bring awareness to what is happening in our world right now, whether it's the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles or racial inequalities.
As a multidisciplinary production designer, my practice is built upon my Trans-Atlantic and lived experience. I express and capture vibrant visual narratives that masterfully integrate elements of African art history, traditional portraits, paintings, and modern-day mass media.
I have always been fascinated by the power of storytelling to bridge cultural divides and bring people together. This has led me to seek out stories that explore themes of identity, belonging, and cultural heritage, and to use my work as a way to celebrate and elevate underrepresented voices.
My outsider perspective flows from my current and earliest experiences. I turned fifty-one this year. I’m chasing a dream career as a storyteller amongst a crowd of younger raconteurs. In an industry that values the next “fresh” take, sometimes it’s hard to persuade others that it can come from a middle-age writer.
2023 Program Partners