By: Andrew Zerman, Staff Writer
Edwin Porres Jr., a Xavier alumnus, has poured his time, money and heart into his first full length feature film.
Porres was born in Guatemala and came to the U.S. at the age of two.
He attended Xavier from 1994-1997, spending his senior year at a different university to pursue filmmaking.
“Acting was always a childhood dream of mine,” Porres said.
“It was at Xavier that I started taking steps towards it. I was a background performer for some of the Xavier Players productions, and I even took acting classes off campus.”
But eventually he made the switch to directing, which became his passion. His first full length film, Hóllyweird, functions as a comedy.
Three scenes of the movie were filmed in his own condo. He narrowly dodged a bullet, as filming wrapped up shortly before COVID-19 shutdowns across the nation commenced in March.
Filming for Hollywierd started in October of 2016. and ended around Nov. 13. Porres turned in the movie to the distributor in March of 2020.
“COVID-19 unfortunately impacted the theatrical release of the film, but it is available for streaming on other platforms. I count my blessings,” he said.
It is an indie film that was 95% funded by him and his wife. Despite this, he was able to acquire a well-rounded cast.
“I was the casting director,” Porres said. “The film has Michael Knowles, who is from The Daily Wire. The film also features Jason Stewart who is from Birth of a Nation.”
The movie is set in Los Angeles in the present day. The premise revolves around a struggling actor named Steve Fernandez (Douglas Spain) who is Latino and poised to get a Hollywood role of a Latino character. But then Alejandro (Michael J. Knowles), an unexpected newcomer to the town, arrives.
Alejandro is not Latino and takes center stage as the favorite for the role. This leads to conflict and tension between the two characters.
A prominent theme throughout the film is minority representation in Hollywood.
“After #OSCARSSOWHITE happened in 2015, I felt that there were minorities that were not being included in the conversation (of representation),” Porres said. “I am a Latino myself, and I modified my original script to be a satire about being a Latino in Hollywood.”
Porres hopes to not only call for greater minority representation in numbers, but also for greater character portrayal.
The film crew looked at the USC Annenburg Inclusion Initiative from 2019. Latinos are 18% of the U.S. population, yet they only play 4.5% of parts in movies,” he said. “That same study showed that 61.9% of Latino characters in film were involved in some sort of illegal activity such as organized crime and drug dealing.”
However, he does show optimism for the future of minority representation.
“I am positive that things will get better. I think more people are speaking out about the issue and are being more vocal about it,” Porres stated. “I’m positive about the betterment of all minorities in America.”
Porres had one message to give to the Xavier community: “If you do have a dream, no matter what it is, it is possible. If someone else has a dream of making a movie or whatever that dream may be – it is tough, no matter what you do. But if you really have a passion for it and if you really work hard and are organized, then you can turn it into a reality.”
He hopes to produce another film in the near future, with the intent of filming it in Guatemala. His current film is available to stream on Roku, Amazon, YouTube, Tubi and Vimeo.