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“Changes” Marks Director Roberto Escamilla’s Move into Narrative Storytelling

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Director Roberto Escamilla

Originally from Mexico City, Mexico director Roberto Escamilla has carved out a remarkable reputation for himself as a diversely talented director whose work has continued to appeals to audiences in Latin America and abroad.

Escamilla recently wrote and directed the film “Changes,” which is scheduled to premiere at the UCLAxFilmFestival on May 6th in Los Angeles, as well as the Mexican Consulate in LA on May 25. Starring Joshua A Furtado (“Haunted Christmas”), Jade Lorna Sullivan (“Hold Fast Good Luck”) and Chaz Kao (“Lucifer”), “Changes” brings to life a coming of age story that follows Mitchell (Furtado), a 16-year-old boy who is taken to a brothel on his birthday where he is pressured by his friends to lose his virginity. Weaving together themes of peer-pressure, sexuality and the transition from adolescence into manhood, “Changes” is definitely a film you won’t want to miss.

Aside from “Changes” Escamilla also recently wrote and directed the first episode of the upcoming series “Baila!” starring Mario Morán (“La Doña,” “Como Dice el Dicho”), Samantha Siqueiros (“Vino El Amor”) and Leonel Deluglio (“Champs 12,” “Cuando Toca La Campana”).

Produced by Este Par Films and Escamilla’s production company Grillo Films, “Baila!” is set in a boarding school in Mexico where bullying is out of control. In an effort to combat the rise in bullying, two teachers join forces to convince the principal to reinstate the school’s artistic programs, the only problem is she won’t give them any funding. That’s when the school geography teacher Hector, played by Diego de Tovar (“El Señor de los Cielos,” “Opening Night”), reconnects with his street hip hop dance roots and opens a dance class.

According Escamilla, through the class “the students find an escape from their problems, with the class opening them up to a new world that will help them build strong friendship with each other.”

The highly anticipated new series is currently in negotiations with several networks in Mexico and is expected to be released within the next two years, so stay tuned for that!

Poster for the series "Baila!"
Poster for the series “Baila!”

For Roberto Escamilla the film “Changes” and the upcoming series “Baila!” mark a transition into more narrative storytelling. Prior to these, he made his mark as a sought after commercial director, directing commercials for well-known brands such Karo, Nescafe Taster’s Choice and Sky Blue To Go.

In 2014 and 2015 he was invited to join the Mexican Association of Advertising Agencies (AMAP) in France for the Cannes Lions Awards, which celebrates the best creative work in the world. There he produced and directed coverage of the awards, as well as exclusive interviews with notable figures such as “Baywatch” star David Hasselhoff, Ogilvy & Mather creative director Tham Khai Meng, and Mexican jurors Sebastián Arrechedera, Jessica Apellaniz and Hector Fernandez. The interviews were televised by AMAP as part of #CannesEnMexico and you can check out one of them below.

Last year Escamilla was called in to work as the second unit director on location in Mexico on the critically acclaimed Dodge commercial “Bandits” with director Mati Moltrasio. Moltrasio is well-known throughout the advertising industry for his work directing commercials for Kraken Rum, Jeep, Toyota, TNT, Dominoes, the hit series “Game of Thrones” and many more.

Moltrasio says, “Roberto was in the project from the very beginning working with me and making decisions. He was in charge of casting the whole secondary cast in Durango… During the shooting day he was in charge of the second unit, doing close ups and inserts for the spot. He also worked with me helping with the most difficult shots of the spot. The final product wouldn’t be the same without his approach and creative ideas.”

In the commercial, which stars Danny Trejo (“From Dusk til Dawn,” “Machete”), Trejo leads an unassuming car buyer out of the dealership doors for a routine test-drive, but instead of walking onto a concrete lot, the two find themselves in the middle of the desert. In front them waits a shiny B5 Blue Dodge Challenger, and in the distance, a gang of bandits on horseback quickly approaches. They hop in the car and the new car buyer is immediate sold as he does donuts in the desert and coats the men on horseback with dust.

As they were shooting two commercials simultaneously and the team’s main base was in Mexico City, Escamilla travelled ahead to Durango, Durango where most of the “Bandits” commercial was shot in order to lay the groundwork and scout the location.

Escamilla explains, “For this project I traveled to Durango a couple times before the official production to do the casting with locals, see the horses, because it involved horses, the scouting etc.,  I also did the tech scout with the DP, and all of the shooting plans. Once the main unit arrived I took care of directing the second unit since we needed to cover a lot of stuff in one day.”

Besides just being a hit with audiences and undoubtedly boosting sales for the Dodge Challenger, the “Bandits” commercial earned the Bronze Award in the ‘Craft/ Film Craft/ Direction’ category at the 2016  U.S. Hispanic Idea Awards, a major award ceremony that celebrates outstanding creative achievement in advertising generated by Hispanic or general market agencies targeting Hispanic consumers.

In addition to the award for “Bandits,” Escamilla’s work as the director of the promos for the popular Mexican historical drama “The Eagle’s Spell” also earned the 2012 PromaxBDA Gold Award for Best Package Design.

Escamilla’s work directing commercials has definitely garnered attention from audiences around the world, but his work as a narrative director is where his artistic vision is given the breadth to truly shine; and with the upcoming releases of  “Changes” and “Baila!,” we know we’ll be seeing a whole lot more from director Roberto Escamilla.

“I really feel grateful that I’m able to tell stories to the people. I love that with my profession I can reach people’s hearts by telling my stories. We get to live from art, not every profession allows this,” explains Escamilla.