A Little About Me – Felix Ortiz, Cinema Draft Winner

My Film Background
-Winner of the Cinema Draft Racso.

-My parents were always fans of movies, and watching and analyzing movies. My dad, in particular, likes music scores and songs. My mom always tried to get at the “ulterior” meanings of movies; why is this character portrayed in such negative light? Why is that person being stereotyped? That influence helped me look beyond the movie, and focus on other aspects of the cinematic experience. Also, I lived abroad, so the only time I would watch movies was while visiting during Christmas break. That meant that the only movies I had access to in the movie theaters were Oscar nominated (or potentially nominated) movies. This allowed me to feed my movie appetite a healthy diet of great storytelling. It is because of my love of storytelling that I wanted to be a screenwriter, but life, and natural disasters, got in the way, and I had to change majors. Thankfully, Al Gore stole the Internet from the gods, and gave it to humanity. This allowed me to continue my “learning” of writing by being able to download screenplays, first drafts, shooting scripts, rewrites, etc. This allowed me to see that sometimes the best lines were left in the editing room floor, or how a five page scene was reduced to a minute by the brilliance of the director.

-I still remember my first Oscar telecast: It was the year that Jack Palance won the Oscar for City Slickers (1992, Silence of the Lambs won Best Picture, but I was too young to watch it), I felt excited that I was watching a historical moment. In 1994, I convinced my cousin to stay up past his bedtime so we could watch if Schindler’s List would win it all. To this day he makes fun of me. In 1996, my grandmother sat down to watch the Oscars. She didn’t watch movies, but thought that Mel Gibson was cute, and she wanted to see him lift his skirt again. It was one of my favorite memories of her, as she passed shortly after (no, Mel’s fanny didn’t kill her). Every year, I watch the Oscars, and I care about the pageantry, the speeches, the nominations, the snubs, the hosts, the musical numbers, the tributes, the movie theme of the year, or what the Oscar voters think recaps the year in movies. I try to watch as many of the Oscar nominated films as I can, the shorts, the animated shorts, the documentaries, the movie that only got nominated for costume design, even though it was a horrible movie to watch. I try to watch them all.

-Growing up abroad gave me access to international films. I was exposed to two-act French films, or melancholic Argentinean films at a young age. Being able to speak different languages also allowed me to enjoy films in their native languages, enjoying the play on words and rhythm and rhyme of the lines delivered by actors.

What I Watch For In Movies
-The writing. For me a good movie is a combination of original stories and great dialogue. Dialogue that sounds as if the actor is ad-libbing is proof that there is a screenwriter at work. I also enjoy when dialogue is witty and carefully crafted. For that reason, I think that Aaron Sorkin is a genius. “A Few Good Man” is smart, witty, carefully driven drama. He follows that with “The American President”, a romantic comedy that still delivers.

-I have a new respect for adapted screenplays. I had always been a fan of William Goldman (“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “All the President’s Men”, “Marathon Man”, “A Bridge Too Far”, “The Princess Bride”, “Maverick”, “Absolute Power”). I felt in his movies (most of them adapted screenplays) he did an amazing job of keeping great dialogue, wit and humor, and great storytelling. Then I found out that he was famous for dropping major characters and still making the movie work. For example, in “Absolute Power” the main character was left out of the movie, and that movie was still awesome! Lately, I’ve decided to start reading Oscar nominated “Adapted Screenplays”. Yes, a lot of times things are left out of the movies, but a great adaptation can make the story work, or in the case of “Up in the Air” make it an even better story.

Top 5 Favorite movies
-Network
-Magnolia
-Truman Show
-Lord of the Rings Trilogy (I watch them back-to-back so they count as one)
-Fight Club

Favorite childhood movie
-Goonies

Guilty Pleasure Movie
-Jerry Maguire

Favorite Movie Scene
-This is hard to describe, because a great scene can only exist in the context of a great movie. In “Network”, my favorite scene is when Arthur Jensen’s speech belittles Howard Beale into submission. The scene is simple, there are only two characters, but as Arthur goes into a crescendo, Howard becomes so small and hopeless.

Types of Movies I just can’t get into
-Multicharacter Romantic Comedies (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, etc)
-Terror/Slasher Films

Felix Ortiz (3 Posts)

Felix Ortiz is the winner of the coveted Cinema Draft Racso Award. More About Me