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Thursday , January 24 2019
RHINOS 2018-2019 728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
Home | Tag Archives: joe lujan

Tag Archives: joe lujan

Local Duo Look to Help Educate, Inspire Local Filmmakers with El Paso MediaFest 2019

Are you a filmmaker? Do you want to make a film? This article is for you. Trust me: you’re going to want to read this, grab your camera and start filming.

I fell into the field of documentary filmmaking, and audio documentary works as well, through trial and error. I would fumble around with things like sound stacking, color correction, editing all by making major mistakes and then trying to figure out how to fix it. It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world to do, and I burned out so much film, tape, and almost every ounce of patience I had.

Still, I learned a lot through trial and error. I learned how to fix almost any situation that might come up. You wouldn’t believe some of the things I’ve encountered along this journey. I’m also learned about redundancies, like capturing sound on more than one device if possible.

I still wish I had someone I could have turned to for advice, lessons, or even a bit of encouragement.  What I would have given to have someone – anyone – taking the time to show me what to do and how to do it.

Back in the day the biggest way for me to learn, to grow, was to watch some of my favorite documentaries, or listen to my favorite shows on NPR and try to recreate what they did.

When I was living in New York, I even attended the New York Film Festival to see how others were doing it. It was a good way to get going, but not something you could build from.

Now, El Paso is a hard town for anyone trying to do anything. As I’ve written before, if you are wanting to break into music, movies, or even writing, our friends and family may not take us seriously.

Joe Lujan, an El Paso filmmaker, had the same problem.

“People taking it serious,” says Joe of his beginnings here in El Paso. “I think that’s been my struggle. When I was here a lot of people thought it was just a hobby. They didn’t know this is where my heart was at; this is what I what I want to do with my life.”

In creating films, in expressing himself, that was the biggest struggle he had, convincing people this is what he wanted to do. I can relate, we can all relate to this, it’s not easy, but Joe continued.

“I did a short film, and that was the one…they started seeing the passion and drive…it was called Shear Death,” Joe recalls. “It was a short horror film, and they were getting creeped out by it.” (Author’s note: The quote is from my article about Joe Lujan which can be read here)

Now, what if I were to tell you that there is an event coming to El Paso that is going to marry both the film festival and panel discussion on craft?

Well, that’s what Chris Hanna and Daniel Valdez are doing with El Paso Media Fest.

“The El Paso Media Fest is a combination of not only film, which includes shorts and features,” says Daniel Valdez. “It also marries education and the world of film to educate the community about different international films, local film, Texas made films, to inspire them to go out there and shoot these wonderful things that we call art that we look at on our TV’s.”

By and large, most film festivals you see and attend, you can catch some great works of art. You’ll be inspired as Daniel said during our interview, but you are not provided with the tools, the knowledge needed to go out and create your films. That’s what EPMF is hoping to change.

“That’s what El Paso Media Fest is,” says Chris Hanna. “It’s been years since we’ve had so many different festivals here and people are so excited about this one because they’ve never had that educational value.”

With the scheduled panels and talks, paired with short and feature films, you will leave equipped with everything you need to get the ball rolling on your project. It can be done.

“I think people tend to forego shooting in El Paso because they think they are going to have to take out all these permits, and all these different things,” says Daniel Valdez. “They go to New Mexico; they recreate our sets, our city, which has a lot of value and a big story to tell.”

That right there, to me, is one of the best things EPMF is working on. They want to show that it does not take a lot to get a production going here in El Paso. Daniel and Chris can see a production studio opening here in El Paso, more work being done here. It can be done, it is possible. It’s been done before.

Some of the films shot here? Glory Road, Fort Bliss, Extreme Prejudice, Courage Under Fire, Last Man Standing, Lolita, Lone Wolf McQuade, The Original Latin Kings of Comedy, Manos: Hands of Fate, and more.

So, why can’t we do it? Why can’t we make it happen again? El Paso can be more than just a footnote in the history of filmmaking, but a major destination for major projects. That’s what El Paso Media Fest is working on.

“Our state is not helping with incentives,” says Chris. “I don’t think that should stop us from getting people out here to film. It starts with events like this, planting a seed, so they come and say ‘wow, El Paso is cool. Look at all these mountains, look at all this landscape.’”

They are right; there are a lot of places to would be awesome backdrops to a small independent film or a major motion picture.

Some of those coming, giving talks or hosting panel discussions are Fred Lehne of Supernatural, Julian Bonfiglio and Kent Kirkpatrick of Better Call Saul and Octavio Solis who was the costume adviser on Pixar’s Coco.

Seminars will cover everything from how to get started, marketing yourself, writing for your assets, virtual reality, and more.

“I think people are looking for a way in,” says Daniel. “We plan to give people a detailed list – this is where you start, this is where you go. As we all know, taking the first step is the hardest.”

“What prevents us from moving forward is the unknown,” says Daniel Valdez.

He’s right. We’re not promised tomorrow, but that still does not stop us from making plans. Nope. So, get your gear out and start shooting.

It’s time for you to show EPMF – and the world – what can come out of El Paso.

Submissions for the El Paso Media Fest are open. The regular deadline ends on December 4th , and the last day to submit is December 24th .

You can submit your film and see all the categories you can enter at FilmFreeway.  You can also find EPMF on Facebook and via their webpage.

Now, there is so much to learn about this festival that you need to check out the video interview above; you’ll learn more about EPMF, Daniel and Chris, and the scheduled speakers.

I’m entering. Are you?

(lf) Chris Hanna and (rt) Daniel Valdez and yours truly in the middle


Video+Story: From Bullying Victim to the Big Screen

“To me, it’s very important to let people know, in high school, its rough. Just find your escape, your way to express yourself, and believe in it and just do it,” says Joe Lujan, owner of Carcass Studios.

Have you ever been bullied? Walked into school and simply wanted run home, or find yourself praying for the world to end or worse?

I know what it’s like to be bullied. Joe Lujan knows.

La vengeance est un plat qui se mange froide,” is from Pierre Choderlos de Laclos’s novel titled Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” is one of those sayings that transcends cultures. It’s something many of us hope one day to extract, revenge.

For me, that revenge is living a life better than those who thought it was fun to bully the skinny kid who wanted nothing more than to write, work in radio, and one day be a reporter. People hating on me, people wanting to take my money, my books, anything I had.  That was my life at Andress when I was there.

What about Joe Lujan?

While attending Montwood, people would throw books at him. There were tons of rumors spread about him. There were even times, he says, that he would eat lunch in the bathroom, in a stall, just to avoid people and what they were saying and doing to him.

It wasn’t easy.

Now Joe has found his revenge. Oh, and is it ever so sweet.  His revenge came in the form of a movie.  What movie? Ah, not so fast my friend, let me tell you about Joe first.

“A lot of the stuff I’ve created is not really for everyone,” says Joe, speaking of his films.  “It was my way of artistically expressing myself…I was bullied horribly in high school.”

For Joe, watching horror films wasn’t scary, it was a relief.

“Film itself was my escape,” Joe says. “Watching movies, watching horror films – Resident Evil, Scream – those films were the ones that would be my escape from the hard times I was having in high school.”

In the end, Joe found his voice, his soul. Joe found a way to use what happened to him to give voice to his creativity.  From his high school years, Atelophobia was born.

“When I decided to do my film Atelophobia,” says Joe, “that was my artistic revenge to all those who bullied me. That film is based off of experiences from high school. A lot of characters reflect a lot of people from my past.”

“It was my way of telling them ‘look at me now,’” he says. “I’m doing what I love to do; I didn’t let you guys stop me.”

After watching the trailer, I can only imagine what he went through.

Joe was born in Las Cruces but raised in El Paso. By middle school, he thought he had his life planned out: he wanted to be a veterinarian.

“Already in middle school, I was thinking what I was planning on doing with my life,” says Joe. But, then, an older sibling started to plant seeds in his mind.

“My sister snuck me out of school,” he says. “She snuck me and my younger brother out of school for a ‘doctors appointment’ to see the first Resident Evil.”

When he saw those credits roll, it was then that he knew he wanted to be a filmmaker.

“I was doing it with my cousins and my siblings here in El Paso, while I was attending school,” he says of his earliest work. Which can be seen here.

He was sketching characters, like Tikalypse, who is the hero in his lasts film, The Immortal Wars. (As a note, if interest, Tikalypse, and the Immortal Wars come from a comic book series called The Vanquishers, also by Joe. Locally you can get your copies at Rebels Comics.)

It’s not easy, being from El Paso, and wanting to break into music, movies, or even writing. Far too often we tend to think our friends and family are just playing around. Joe had the same issues, family thinking this was just a hobby, a passing phase.

“People taking it serious,” says Joe of his beginnings here in El Paso. “I think that’s been my struggle. When I was here a lot of people thought it was just a hobby. They didn’t know this is where my heart was at; this is what I what I want to do with my life.”

In creating films, in expressing himself, that was the biggest struggle he had, convincing people this is what he wanted to do. I can relate, we can all relate to this, it’s not easy. But Joe continued.

“I did a short film and that was the one…they started seeing the passion and drive…it was called Shear Death,” Joe recalls. “It was a short horror film, and they were getting creeped out by it.”

It was after that – after Shear Death – that people began to see his drive, his desire to be a filmmaker. It was also a time he started making a film almost every week.

“I was always constantly doing one every week, so I was learning from my mistakes,” Joe said. “They started seeing the progression, from each film getting better and better, and more and more they were more interested in what I was doing.”

You can see that progression. Joe’s film reel, which included the short film Shear Death is a place to start; Then, his most current reel. You can see the growth, the progression. You can also see the passion he has for what he does.

Joe’s life could have taken many different paths. Being bullied, he could have chosen to end his life. He could have given up on his dream, given in to what everyone was saying about him, or to him. But no, he continued striving. He moved on. He allowed his past to inform his work, his art, giving it a voice, and being able to move past it.

I, for one, am glad we have Joe Lujan. That he is still here and followed his heart, his dream. His hope, his final word is that we all would support those who are doing the same. You never know, it may be the only way they can share what they are going through, what is inside of them, screaming to be known.

“Support independent arts,” Joe asks of us all. “It’s crucial to support artists and people who have a passion and a love for something they want to do. It might be their escape. It might be their way of expressing themselves because they don’t know any other way to express themselves. It’s important to support them no matter what.”

Connect with Joe Lujan via website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube


One of the things Joe Lujan does, is comic books. How would you like to win a signed copy of The Vanquishers: Day Break? We have two copies we are giving away to two lucky winners. How do you win? Ah, but that is rather simple. Send an email to

Contest is open to anyone who is thirteen, or older. No purchase necessary. Entries must be received by midnight, May 20th, 2018.

A big thank you to Rebel Comics (12400 Montwood Drive) for giving us the comics, and a big thank you to Joe for signing them!



RHINOS 2018-2019 728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728