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Amy Serrano

Amy Serrano: A Siren Calls Others to Action

Cinematographer Amy Serrano founded Siren Studios in 2003 bringing international affairs to the big screen in a way so captivating and charismatic that her films leave all audiences wanting more. Merging politics and creativity, Amy directs, writes, and shoots documentaries that give voices to unheard stories around the globe. Heralded by PBS, Glamour Magazine, and the Embassy of Spain (to name a few), she draws a picture of the human spirit and human rights in a way no other can. Like her main characters, Amy has herself been highlighted for her lifelong endeavors as she was presented in the documentary “Evolution of Woman” which was showcased in New York City. Join us and read more about this independent filmmaker and what drives her to be the visual and vocal outlet of numerous injustices worldwide as we spotlight her in this week’s Young & Professional Profile.

Company

Siren Studios
The Hope, Courage and Justice Project

Founded

2003 (Siren Studios), 2006 (The Hope, Courage and Justice Project)

Website

www.sirenstudios.net
www.hopecouragejustice.org [coming soon]

Name, Title

Amy Serrano
Director, Writer, Cinematographer

Age

40

Hometown

Miami, Florida

Current residence

New Orleans, Louisiana

Education

– Universidad Internacional Menendez Pelayo, Leadership Program, Spain;
– Center for Creative Leadership, Leadership Development Program;
– Harvard University, JFK School of Government, Executive Leadership Program;
– National Hispana Leadership Institute, Fellow, 2004;
– Florida International University, Bachelors of Science in Sociology and Anthropology, Fields of Concentration: Latin America and the Caribbean, Human Rights and Gender; Minor in International Relations, Fields of Concentration: Latin America and the Caribbean, and Human Rights.

Work Experience

– Siren Studios (founded 2003), Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Producer and President 2003-Present;
– The Hope, Courage and Justice Project (founded 2006), Director, Writer, Cinematographer, Producer, President and Co-Founder 2006-Present;
– Globe Link Productions (1995-2001):
Producer and Development Director (1995-1998); Executive Director (1998-2001).

Ethnicity

Cuban

About the company

Siren Studios’ Beliefs (what we believe about the world):

  1. We nurture the respect and protection of the environment and all of its beings.
  2. We promote human rights for all citizens of the world.
  3. We defend the right to freedom, democracy, pluralism and self-determination.
  4. We practice fair trade and uphold fair labor standards.
  5. We act creatively against injustice and towards the elevation of the human spirit.
Siren Studios’ Vision (how we see our role in the world):
Our vision is to use the multidimensional and alchemical power of film — together with words and music— to artistically create awareness in relevant social issues, promote human rights, and elevate the human spirit.

Most notable milestones

I think we are about to reach a most important one very soon with the January release of our upcoming film: “The Sugar Babies: The Plight of the Children of Agricultural Workers in the Sugar Industry of the Dominican Republic.”

What’s the niche?

In essence, we fuse film production with humanitarian values and objectives, as detailed in our mission and offerings.

Siren Studios’ Mission (how we carry out our role in the world):

  1. Offering over ten years of integrity in film production, from pre-production to post-production, and screenwriting to music scoring.
  2. Serving as a catalyst for education, understanding, advocacy and change by way of film production and the arts.
  3. Achieving recognition of our work through national and international channels in film festivals, television and interactive screenings.
  4. Promoting humanitarian relief initiatives tied to the central themes and subjects of our films in conjunction with spirited partners and non-governmental organizations actively engaged in sustainable fieldwork
  5. Committing to the positive development of the arts in our own community by way of coordinating, sponsoring and inspiring a local writers’ group composed of poets, musicians, screenwriters and novelists that lead to an increase in the works produced, shared and published.
Siren Studios’ Offerings (with a commitment to the highest standards of excellence, professionalism and inspiration):
  1. Film Production Services (Pre-Production, Production, Post-Production)
  2. Writing (Scriptwriting, Fiction, Non-Fiction Narratives and Essays)
  3. Music (Production and Scoring)
  4. Project Development
  5. Consulting

What’s the biggest challenge?

Funding is always a challenge but we are persistent.

What’s in store for the future?

The next project we take on is a global film series entitled: “Of Hope, Courage and Justice: A Global Mosaic of Women in Human Rights,” which will explore the dual role of women in human rights; not just as victims of human rights violations, but also as courageous agents of social change! We shall begin with the Western Hemisphere, and the first country will be my homeland: Cuba!

Who would you like to be contacted by?

Anyone who shares our philosophies and is interested in funding this type of work.

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Best way to keep a competitive edge

I am not at all competitive. I believe in doing what I am here to do, in collaboration when necessary, and altogether doing it in the best and kindest way possible.

Guiding principle in life

“Doing what I am here to do and doing it in the best and kindest way possible.”

Yardstick of success

Just yesterday I was contacted by the Public Relations Department of Florida International University – where I went to school – to be featured on a banner for a promotional campaign representing successful alumni from each Department; in this case, Sociology and Anthropology.

The recommendation was made by the Chair of the Department, Dr. Richard Tardanico, Anthropologist. It was humbling but a measure of recognition of one’s evolution throughout the years.

Goal yet to be achieved

Writing a book.

Best practical advice

It’s been said before perhaps in a different way, but it is so very important to honor yourself, your ideas, thoughts, and drives, even when the rest of the world or that which immediately surrounds you proves contrary. If you cannot honor yourself, then how can you honor that which you do, and the people you do it with and for?

Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture

As an independent filmmaker whose focus is making the world a better place, one documentary at a time, one travels a journey not too different from that of Santiago in Paolo Coehlo’s book, The Alchemist. I would say I understand Santiago and even more so, the reason(s) Paolo Coehlo wrote this “fable.”

I find it is no fable, but rather, the blueprint for the journey of anyone with a goal, dream or vision different from what is expected by your family and/or peers. As such, there have been moments when one is about to give up the dream, like when Santiago had to work in the crystal shop.

Caution: These are the detours to the Dream! But at the right moment, you can always get back on the road and keep moving forward!

However during such a moment on my own journey, and faced by obstacles, villains and more, it was my own little brother (21 years younger than I am) who told me not to give up my dream and to remember that even if at times it appears “the bad people will win” in the end, what is right always triumphs above the rest. He was right

Mentor(s) and why?

As a woman in an industry typically represented by males, more than anything, I’ve had anti-mentors or those that did not believe that I had it in me and did not support me. But I always did.

If I’d had a mentor, some things might have been easier, but I traveled alone. When I speak publicly to students, however, I always encourage them to find someone who is doing what they are doing, and volunteer, apprentice and learn, learn, learn! Mainly, surround yourself by people who will support your goals.

In closing, I’d say that though I really didn’t have a mentor, I always had treasured friends who I can never thank enough for their support, belief and commitment to what I do and what I beleive in. Their company made all the difference in my ability to meet my goals.

What motivated you to get started?

I could say world and human rights issues, but in truth this goes way back to childhood and involves a conglomeration of conditions that propel one to meet one’s destiny.”

Like best about what you do?

The adventure and exhilaration of actually being a participant in the deeper issues of the world, a true global citizen, and feeling so very connected to the people. There is a true sense of relation in that.

Like least about what you do?

Though I am more of an independent artist and more than anything consider myself a documentary filmmaker, I am still a part of the film industry at large. I don’t at all enjoy or connect to the shallow or superficial aspects of this community

At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer and an ambassador.

What was your first job?

I’d wanted to work as long as I can remember but no one would hire me so I wanted to earn my own money. At 13, I sold shoes from a catalog. People always wanted to try on shoes and that is difficult to do from a paper representation, so though I tried really hard, I was not very successful. My mother was my only customer. I was finally hired by someone named Richard Gillmore three days after my 16th birthday. I worked as a telemarketer for Rainsoft, a water treatment company and within three months was promoted to manager.

Biggest pastimes outside of work

Music, reading, exploring, discovery, meditation, contemplation.

Person most interested in meeting and why?

Howard Roark

Leader in business most interested in meeting and why?

I guess I am in the business of ideas so the person I’ve dreamt about meeting since I was a child was Jose Marti, but he died in 1895.

Three interesting facts about yourself

I feel that’s not really for me to say. What I may find interesting might absolutely bore someone else and vice versa.

Three characteristics that describe you

I am a teleological believer in alternate futures, I feel I live as if I were the heroine in the book of my life, and yet I am a cautious optimist in the face of it all.

Three greatest passions

  1. Fighting the good fight.
  2. Restoring hope.
  3. Personally hoping to bring out the best in people and situations.

Favorite book

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n is a tome of absolute literary alchemy to me! It is the kind of book I’d yearn to write if I had the time and luxury to do so. Otherwise, as an artist, I am deeply inspired by Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, as well as the non-fiction One Dimensional Man by the great social philosopher, Herbert Marcuse. And of course, The Alchemist and also Warrior of the Light by Paolo Coelho

Favorite cause

Any film’s themes I take on. Currently, I am deeply immersed in challenging modern day slavery or the the disturbing remnant factions of slavery that should have never existed in the first place.

In this case, the film we will launch in January of 2007, “The Sugar Babies” deals with the lives of the descendants of slaves that were brought to the Americas to work in the sugar Industry in the Caribbean. I hope and believe it may compel the viewer to re-examine personal and global views of historical and modern day slavery.

The other cause that weaves itself pervasively under my skin is the freedom of choice for my country, Cuba. In fact, the next film will explore the women’s human rights movement within my homeland.

I am also as a strict vegetarian so even though these are my own views, in truth I believe our animal friends should have the right to a peaceful and dignified life too. They really should not have to suffer because of us.

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Credits

Interview by Marcela Gutierrez
Introduction by Sara Ortega
Edited by Valerie Enriquez

Also this week

     
Tony ChungSarita EkyaLaila Halaby

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