by Rene Villaroman/Asianjournal.com
BURBANK — A twenty-two year-old film director, Aimee Galicia Torres is seeking the help of the community in producing her second movie – a full feature film titled Nothing But Dreams. Torres, a FilAm, pitched her project as a drama about two childhood friends and their endeavor to find happiness and follow their dreams.
Burbank-based Aimester Productions LLC, Torres’ production company has been actively pursuing actress and Rape Abuse and Incest Network (RAIN) spokesperson Christina Ricci to star in her second film. She also informed Asian Journal during an interview at the Barnes & Noble bookstore on Wednesday, that her co-producer, Cherla Lewis, has succeeded in having Two-and-Half Men star Charlie Sheen to read the script.
The young, gifted director from San Bernardino County is determined to see her second film through.
“Essentially, what this film will do is inspire people to pursue and follow their dreams,” Torres said. “Because so many people nowadays are doing nothing, and they are wasting most of their time in jobs they are unhappy with.”
“Being twenty-two, I admit that it was very hard getting here. There was a lot of pressure, especially being young and female,” she admitted. “But I had a lot of confidence in my abilities. That’s what essentially got me to this place.”
Film directing has been her dream since she was a young girl growing up in Fontana. “My parents put me through acting school but I didn’t want to act. I wanted to direct,” she said. “Every time I go to a movie theater and watch a movie, I wanted to be the person wanting to make the audience to feel something.”
In 2003, after graduating with honors from high school, Torres received a diploma from the New York Film Academy in Universal City after going through an intensive one-year filmmaking course. Thereafter, Torres enrolled in a Professional Stunt Training course under the tutelage of Tony Snegoff, Gary Baxley and Steve Hart in Topanga, followed by a course in Precision Stunt Driving at the Bobby Ore Motorsports in Camarillo. Later on, she also received a Master Make-up Diploma from the Cinema Makeup School in Los Angeles.
Her training in all these peripheral fields had been preparation for her ultimate goal – directing. She had worked as a cinematographer for three years.
“I am union-eligible and I’m just waiting to pay my dues to join the Cinematography Guild,” she said. “I’ve been doing that (cinematography) about three years now, and some of my works have shown in film festivals — from the New York Film Festival to the Hollywood Digital Video Festival.”
She worked her way up, beginning from the time she loaded film in the camera department, then graduating to gaffer, then first assistant camera person, before becoming a cinematographer.
“A gaffer is pretty much the first in command after the director of photography,” she explains. “They set up all the lights, and they are in charge of rigging.” She said that as a cinematographer, part of her job was to read lots of scripts, and that had helped her develop her scriptwriting skills.
Personal First Movie
The first movie that she wrote and directed was a 25-minute short, titled Father You Sinned. It is about a psychologist trying to repress her childhood past. “She discovered during an encounter with a patient that she was sexually abused when she was younger,” Torres related. “That she was molested by a priest.”
“I wrote the script [that was] based on personal experiences in my past. My aunt had a friend who was a priest [who] actually molested me when I was younger. When I was a sixth-grader until I was about 12. I haven’t talked to my aunt since I was a junior in high school,” Torres confided.
Torres told Asian Journal that she is working to get this film out to be seen by more people because she wants to bring awareness about sex abuse.
“Not just the molestation issue by priests, but just to bring it out in general. Molestations are happening every day, and I would like people to know that even though the molestations were done only a couple of times, it could affect victims for the rest of their lives,” she continued.
Father You Sinned was shot in about two weeks and cost $50,000. The project was financed through her mother’s credit cards. It had a three-day screening at the AMC Universal Studios beginning in 2006. A representative from the Philippine Consulate attended and was pleased with the movie.
“We plan to continue screening the film, but right now the plan is to for us to distribute it independently,” she said. She is also working at building alliances with civic organizations, including ABS-CBN’s Bantay Bata, to help in getting the movie screened in the Philippines, and in other countries.
‘Nothing But Dreams’
Her second film, Nothing But Dreams, will begin principal photography in May. “I’d really like to start pre-production in March, but that would depend on whether we could get 35 percent of the ($11 million) budget in place by then,” she said. The prospective actors also had asked Aimester Production to have the seed production money in place before they would commit to the project.
“Being a filmmaker is very odd for me, coming from a Filipino family,” Torres said. She noted that most Filipino parents want their children to be doctors and nurses. “I’m very lucky to have a mother (a registered nurse) who is supportive,” she said.
Gunning for Hollywood
Torres’ ambition is to be able to make a difference through the work that she puts out. “I want to be a role model. It’s very important for me to create an impact on people,” she offered. “I’ve never done drugs and never smoked. My hard experiences had built me as a person that I am now. I don’t take anything for granted.”
“I want to be the first female to win “Best Director” in the Academy Awards. That is my ultimate goal,” she said modestly. “It’s not that I’m being cocky or anything like that. I’m a very humble person. I just know that I’ll be able to make a movie that can qualify for something.”