Meet Xavier Medina of Érase Una Vez
Medina, a native of Bayamon, Puerto Rico, majored in audiovisual communications at the University of Puerto Rico, and later completed his Master of Fine Arts in directing for the film at the Savannah College of Art and Design. In 2013 he collaborated as director of photography for an Axe commercial that was awarded the Silver Lion at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, and since then has directed multiple award-winning short films and commercials for brands including Coca-Cola, T-Mobile and Medalla Light.
Cotarelo, born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, studied architecture at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico and after made the transition to working in the cinematic world. She started her career in the production department and later on moved to focus on production design. Since then, she has been working in everything from music videos, commercials, narrative films and documentaries.
After years of working in the Audiovisual Industry, Medina and Cotarelo moved to Miami, where they continue to collaborate as artists. Together they created Érase una vez (Once upon a time) a film collective of storytellers. Here Xavi operates as writer/director, cinematographer and editor and Maria manages production, art department and other departments as needed.
Last year, Xavi was chosen as the first Cinematic Resident from Oolite Arts, where he obtained a grant to make our first feature film titled Sunnyland. At the moment we are shooting principal photography and we plan to have a final cut of the film by the end of summer.
Filmmaking is an extremely challenging career path and getting the chance to make your dream come true is honestly a statistical anomaly (so we feel very fortunate!). We wouldn’t call it a bumpy road, but it did take Xavi 15 years to get to this point. Perseverance and relentless optimism are key if you want to make it in the world of cinematic arts.
Aside from obtaining the highest degree possible as a film student, there’s a lot more that goes into getting a chance to make your film. Technology is ever changing and the tools to work in this industry are exponentially more expensive than those you would use for any other medium. It’s also a collaborative art, so there are many variables that go into play when trying to create a successful project. You can’t just hide in your room and dream about that story (though there’s certainly a lot of that). You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable, yet at the same time, there are zero margins for error. If you mess up painting, it can be soul crushing, but you get to try again. If you mess up a commercial, a documentary, a narrative film, there’s a possibility your career is over. So with that comes a lot of stress and sleepless nights.
Honestly, there’s a considerable amount of masochism that comes with this art form hehe. At the same time, there’s nothing like it, and the reward of watching your work on a 60ft screen is truly hard to describe. There’s also an enormous level of satisfaction when you can generate empathy and make people feel. For Xavi, filmmaking is some bizarre beacon, like a lighthouse it’s a way for us to connect with people who have a similar level of sensitivity or a particular inclination to a given theme or even to a specific emotion. Filmmaking is a way to keep us human and that’s worth all the trouble.
Érase una vez was founded after a big desire to create short films, music videos and documentaries about subjects that moved our hearts or stories that had to be told. Our collective works hard into portraying audiovisual content with a unique way to make the client happy with the final product and make the spectator feel something new/different. What sets us apart is the unique and specialized procedures that we will use, taking into consideration our product/client/goal. We start with Pre-Production. Here we plan the idea of what we want to do or express. We research until we understand what the client wants or needs to be portrayed. Then we organize every detail needed to have as smooth Production Phase where we do the actual shooting/recording. Finally, we enter the Post-Production stage were we detail everything creating the final master copy.
We define success when we finish a project and we know we have dedicated all that we could to have the best version possible. Success for us is peace of mind and self-satisfaction in knowing you gave it all.