Filmmaker Baldemar Rodriguez was studying acting at the University of Houston's School of Theater, when he encountered the age-old problem of finding interesting and relevant roles. "I thought, 'Instead of complaining, I'm going to do something about it. I'm going to get a different degree -- I'll learn how to write, direct and produce.' It took me two extra years to get my degree, but now, 15 years later, I've written, directed and produced a film that's going to be distributed nationally."
That film is In Search of the American Dream, the story of an immigrant Mexican family that's torn apart when the undocumented parents are arrested and scheduled for deportation. The family's adult son (Rodriguez) tries to keep the several younger children from being separated and placed in foster families. Rodriguez started filming for American Dream in 2008, shooting on weekends and holidays. "After we started, I was trying to hurry and finish, because the [child actors] were growing up and changing all the time. Four years and several hurricanes later, we finally finished," he laughs.
What he does: The Pasadena-bred Rodriguez quickly answers, "I tell people I'm a filmmaker, that I do movies. That means that I doing lots of different things, but in the end, I make movies."
Why he likes it: "I like that I'm doing something that I'm passionate about, that I wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night knowing that I'm doing something I love. So many people have to work in regular jobs to support their families and they don't get to use their talents. I'm lucky in that I get to use my talents every day.
"I enjoy every step of filmmaking, even the headaches and arguments, all of it. On this film, I wrote, I picked up the camera, I helped with the lights, I acted and I directed. Of all of that, I love acting and directing the most. If I could only do one thing, it would be acting. That's my real love."
What inspires him: "I'm inspired that I can tell stories that are important to me, to my family and friends, to the people I grew up with. I have the luxury of picking up a pencil and writing a story, of picking up a camera and making a film. With those opportunities open to me, I have more than enough ideas for stories to tell.
"In a more spiritual way, I'm inspired by my [late] mother. I know she always believed in me. Her dream was that I could achieve my dreams, whatever they were. That's coming true a little more every day."
If not this, then what:"My dream job is making films, so I'm doing my dream job. If I couldn't do that, I would want to work with my father; he mows lawns. I would want to do that so that I could spend time with him."
If not here, then where: "I would want to be right smack in the middle of it all, and that would LA."
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What's next:"Well, what's next is the same thing as what's now. We spent so much time making American Dream, now it's time to take it to all the communities and get it seen. That's going to be a long process. I don't want to just make it and then send it out there on its own. I'm going to be hosting screenings at, hopefully, the 30 cities with the largest Hispanic communities.
"After that, I'm working on a project about mariachi music and mariachi history."
For information, visit the film's website.
More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Linarejos Moreno, photographer Heather Rainwater, artist, jewelry maker Detria Ward, actress and entrepreneur Justin Cronin, book author Mark Ivy, actor Lauren Luna, painter and shoe designer Sarah Cortez, writer Kent Dorn, drawer, painter, artist Lillian Warren, painter Carl Lindahl, folklorist, UH professor Sutapa Ghosh, film producer and Indian Film Festival of Houston organizer Tom Stell, actor, writer, director Gregory Oaks, teacher and Poison Pen co-founder Oliver Halkowich, dancer and performer Lupe Mendez, poet and poem pusher Jason Nodler, artistic director, playwright, director Ana Treviño-Godfrey, musician Matthew Detrick, classical musician Travis Ammons, filmmaker Florence Garvey, actress Julia Gabriel, artist, designer and backpack maker Rebecca French, choreographer and FrenetiCore co-founder Kiki Neumann, found object folk artist Flynn Prejean, Poster Artist JoDee Engle, dancer David Rainey, actor, artistic director and teacher Geoff Hippenstiel, painter, art instructor Jessica Janes, actress and musician Dennis Draper, actor and director Mat Johnson, novelist and tweeter Orna Feinstein, printmaker and installation artist Adriana Soto, jewelry designer Domokos Benczédi, Noise and Collage Artist Robert Boswell, Book Author, UH Prof Patrick Turk, visual artist Elizabeth Keel, playwright Bob Martin, designer Mary Lampe, short film promoter and developer Nisha Gosar, Indian classical dancer Jeremy Wells, painter George Brock, theater teacher Radu Runcanu, painter Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker Philip Hayes, actor Patrick Palmer, painter Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer John Tyson, actor Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music Laura Burlton, photographer David Peck, fashion designer Rebecca Udden, theater director Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer Paul Fredric, author John Sparagana, photographer Damon Smith, musician and visual artist Geoff Winningham, photographer Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor Katya Horner, photographer Johnathan Felton, artist Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer Carol Simmons, hair stylist Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet Greg Carter, director Kenn McLaughlin, theater director Justin Whitney, musician Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright