Filmmaker Carlo Olivares Paganoni invited his mother and her friends from Mexico to cook for his short film, treating the cast and crew to home-cooked chicken chilaquiles, molletes, tacos, flan and arroz con leche.
Not only did Paganoni have the creative vision for his short film, “Cardboard Camera,” but he also carried the weight of raising funds and feeding the team, he said. He initially felt overwhelmed by all the tasks associated with making a movie.
Throughout his film career, he has worked for Cartoon Network Latin America and now writes and produces for Disney XD. Paganoni started school in advertising before moving from Mexico to the United States, studying screenwriting at UCLA Extension for a year in 2008 and then attending UCLA’s Professional Program in Screenwriting in 2009.
After graduating college, Paganoni created his short film, “Cardboard Camera,” based on his childhood experience of making a fake camera out of paper since he couldn’t afford a real one. The 10-year-old protagonist uses his imagination and some cardboard to make movies about astronauts. “Cardboard Camera” won second place in the Children’s category at the Emmy College Television Awards in 2013.
The Daily Bruin’s Lindsay Weinberg spoke with Paganoni about his self-inspired short film, projects for children and advice for aspiring filmmakers.
Daily Bruin: What was the process of creating “Cardboard Camera” like?
Carlo Olivares Paganoni: We had to come up with a project and I had been with this story in my head for many, many years. Really until I started writing it, I realized that it was connecting a lot with my childhood. And the writing of it was great, but then when I started the production of it, I realized how daunting it was because I needed many kids in the film. I needed to cast kids and also these extras for a big theater scene at the end, and I realized I didn’t have enough money to do it.
So sort of like the same thing that happened to the kid in the story – he didn’t have the resources to make his movie – he had to come up with creative ways to do it. So I went on Kickstarter and raised funds from my family and friends, and then we were able to shoot it.
DB: What would you consider some of your biggest accomplishments or favorite projects in film?
CP: I write and produce basically campaigns and commercials for (Disney XD). So I’ve done a (project) about the magic of storytelling, which was an awesome experience for kids to not forget to read because now kids are all on the iPads and on their screens, and it’s good to get out of that. I’m from Mexico so I’ve done stuff for Hispanic Heritage Month, where I co-created this character called Súper Chico who goes on adventures … Those two would be my greatest achievements at Disney so far.
DB: What do you enjoy the most about filmmaking?
CP: I really enjoy the creation and coming up with something original on the page, sort of trying to come up with your own idea … I’ve been really able to enjoy every artistic aspect of it – I love like doing the thumbnails of the film … That process was really cool because that’s when you get most of your creative ideas. And then when I’m on set I just love collaborating … I love that it’s not only about writing, or it’s not only about producing.
DB: What advice would you give to UCLA students who just graduated and want to get into film?
CP: Sometimes we hold onto this idea of like ‘I’m going to graduate and I’m going to do A, B and C, and I’m going to get there. I’m going to do a feature, I’m going to direct commercials.’ But I think that although you don’t have to leave that sort of dream – don’t let it go – be open to other things you can do to develop your craft before that opportunity opens up to become a feature director filmmaker.
Even if you come out of school there’s a lot of stuff you need to learn, a lot of experience you need to gain. Getting anything you can get your hands on whether it’s a small, small thing that you’re shooting and directing, that’s experience.