Writers, actors, and directors gather at DreamYard space in the Bronx. Photo by: Cheyenne R. Ubiera

From aspiring filmmakers to ones that have been in the scene for years, networking can be a tedious task. Bronx Film 48, an initiative created by four Bronx-based filmmakers, hopes to make it a less daunting experience. 

The BX Start Gaming Space by DreamYard, at 1017  Home St., hosted over 50 directors, actors, and screenwriters from all over the city for a networking event on Friday night. The schedule was full of networking exercises and included a panel of working filmmakers giving advice on how to create a network of people for future projects.

This is the second event of its kind for the co-founders of Bronx Film 48, who were inspired after attending a previous networking event. Freelance photographer and filmmaker Greg Hernandez said the group wanted to help other Bronx artists make their own connections.  

“This was a way to get through that initial awkwardness of meeting people,” said Hernandez. “Filmmaking is a collaborative art, so it’s important that we have people come together.”

The night started out with a showcase of reels from local writers and directors. After each reel, the creators were asked to detail the work that they do and the kind of skills they’re looking for in their upcoming projects. 

“We want dope filmmakers to meet one another,” said Hernandez. “This way we can get more films produced in the Bronx.

The biggest attraction of the night was the panel of industry experts and veteran filmmakers sharing their experiences in the field and answering questions from the audience. One of the panelists was cinematographer and Bronx native Mike Wells, who’s worked on multiple web series, such as “Beyond Complicated” and Season 2  of “Black Actress”.

Cinematographer Mike Wells (left) chats with aspiring artists. Photo by: Cheyenne R. Ubiera

He is currently working on a series of writing workshops called “All Caps.” The goal of the workshop is to end the stigma surrounding people of the Bronx. 

“People tell us that we’re too loud or stuck in a time capsule,” he said. “We’re going to make them hear our stories.”

Wells seeks to create more productions in the Bronx, which is where most of his writing is based. His inspirations lie mostly with the horror and sci-fi genres that is he grew up watching. Wells seeks to recreate those narratives by using the Bronx as a setting. 

“I love the escapism of shows like ‘Are You Afraid of the Dark?’ or ‘Goosebumps’”, he said. “I want to see our kids doing that.”

After a Q&A, panelists broke up into small groups with the audience to answer personal questions and give more advice. One up-and-coming filmmaker took advantage of the opportunity to ask as many questions as possible.

Saraí Merino fell in love with film after taking a video production class in high school. A resident from Jackson Avenue, Merino made it their goal to not only create stories that represented themselves but also as a tool for activism.

“You’re making your own world when you create films,” said Merino. “It’s a way to show people their potential.”

Merino is currently working on a documentary on Decolonize This Place, a NYC-based movement organized around indigenous rights, black liberation, and de-gentrification. They hope that the project will act as a tool for marginalized people to share their own stories. 

“We all deserve to be seen as human,” said Merino. “We shouldn’t have other people show our realities.”

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