….and why I postponed my documentary until further notice.
In March 2018 I was earnest about filming my documentary, Stand Up, Take It Down. At the time, I was hellbent on being a serious director and somehow finding a way to make this my full-time job.
My Kickstarter failed. I didn’t know what to do, and dealing with a public failure like this felt like such a big humiliation and stain on my character. Thankfully, I used a platform that only takes money if you raise what you intend to raise.
I left my apartment in Buenos Aires, and after being extremely depressed in Arica, Chile, I began roaming around aimlessly around Chile and Perú.
I still filmed things here and there, but it took a while for me to be able to feel okay. Upon my return to the United States, I felt an immediate slap in the face. The cost of things—even in Mississippi—was a drain on my finances. On December 2019 I was making plans to get to East Asia and then travel from Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Seoul (wherever I got the cheapest ticket) to Mumbai, and maybe even beyond that if my finances allowed.
My idea was to travel to as many countries as I could and exchange recipes. I’m from El Salvador originally and I often run into the same thing: I got used to being the first person from there people meet. I was going to make friends, travel, and also share stories because I knew my point of view is one people around the world rarely see.
I intended for this trip to begin sometime around March or April 2020 because I wanted to spend spring, summer, and autumn traveling.
We all know what happened next.
I didn’t understand how to keep a production team safe and I basically gave up on directing once again.
If I couldn’t do this in 2018 or 2019, what business did I have pursuing the impossible during a time when everything seemed frozen?
I lost all of my clients due to the pandemic and had to focus my energy on finding work, taking odd jobs, and writing whatever I could.
Sometime in early 2021, a friend of mine mentioned that The Second City had online courses now. I intended to take a TV writing class, but I found stand-up comedy instead.
Let’s backtrack. I wrote my first ever paid satire in 2014 and began writing stand-up routines in 2015, but never performed them. I was hellbent on making films. Comedy was a distraction. It was an extra element of what I do and who I am.
Also, I didn’t want to face being the only Salvadoran onstage. I didn’t think I could handle open mics or even being around other comedians.
In 2017 I got a temporary job writing jokes for a finance app. I did this for roughly 6 months. I kept writing rom-com screenplays and sketches, but I didn’t film these.
I wanted to finish my documentary. I felt that this was something I needed to finish because it was my first big idea.
Then, nothing happened. In conversations, people would tell me they thought I was funny. They thought I could do stand-up. They thought I could do hilarious sketches.
I thought they were crazy.
Back to 2021, I found that stand-up was intimidating, but something superhumanly impossible. Doing shows on zoom was low stakes and I read from my notes at first, but I began memorizing my bits as I would during a regular in-person open mic.
I did my first show for Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity in Jackson, MS. Then I performed at a church. I haven’t had too many chances to do in-person mics.
I also live extremely far away from cities such as Memphis, Birmingham, Atlanta, and New Orleans. So I started writing sketches and filming them.
I started a YouTube channel out of frustration. Where one idea doesn’t pan out, you have to move on to the one you can take action on. Filmmaking is hard and our ideas can be so big that scaling down is never a bad thing.
I’d write more, but I have more TV and film writing to do, and bits to perfect!