El Paso, TX has been known as city with a problem called The Brain Drain.

According The New York Times article Many Young El Pasoans Find They Can Go Home Again

In the 1990s, among cities El Paso’s size, only Gary, Ind., lost more 19- to 30-year-olds to emigration, according to a study by former State Senator Eliot Shapleigh, a Democrat and fifth-generation El Pasoan.

For many young El Pasoans, the search for upward mobility has meant leaving town.

In 2009, El Paso County attempted to reach out to the youth of El Paso to come back to their hometown to practice Law & Medicine.

Law and medical careers can bring a lot of great talent back home, but we cannot forget about El Paso's film scene. 

One of the major assets that fuels a city's creative scene is its youth. Young people create identities in order to differentiate themselves from the previous generation.

A new generation of filmmakers is doing just that here in El Paso.

The film scene in El Paso is very small compared to big scenes like Austin, Los Angeles, New York, Albuquerque, Atlanta, or New Orleans.

El Paso lacks a film school here in west Texas and the city has lost a majority of its young creative talent to NMSU's Creative Media Institute digital filmmaking program.

A majority of its graduates are likely to remain in New Mexico since a filmmaking career is more viable in Albuquerque and Santa Fe in a state that offers incentives to filmmakers and has grown its own production capabilities, evidenced by hits such as TV’s Breaking Bad  series.

Still, there are various young filmmakers from El Paso who have not let these disadvantages stop them from pursing a creative filmmaking career here in the southwest.

By teaming up with other young filmmakers and talent, the youth of El Paso have begun to really enrich El Paso's film scene.

While El Paso does not have a festival devoted to their work, it does have the Plaza Classic Film Festival, produced by the  El Paso Community Foundation, to help nurture the local independent scene through its Local Flavor programming.

The Plaza Classic Film Festival screens older classic films, but Local Flavor, which I coordinate, has served as a Mecca for area filmmakers, giving voice to directors, writers, animators, documentarians and actors who might some day spread their wings in Los Angeles or New York.

Their work is shown in thematic programs, and they are afforded a chance to interact with and discuss their work for festival audiences.

Or, as I put it in the El Paso Times article (shameless plug) Special guests with El Paso ties featured at Plaza Classic Film Festival

One of the challenges of being a filmmaker in El Paso is the lack of networking opportunities. Once a filmmaker becomes successful, he or she typically moves away.

Local Flavor started off as our way of showing off films that were made by El Pasoans, about El Paso or were made here. It started back in 2004, but when the film festival came up we integrated it and it became the opening-night event. - Carlos Corral

While many young filmmakers and actors leave their hometowns to pursue their creative careers in bigger cities, the amount of local young filmmakers and actors that have begun to blossom has grown significantly in recent years. 

Some of them appeared at this year’s Plaza Classic.

Locally connected creatives Yvette Yates and Ryan Piers Williams have found success in both New York and Los Angeles and have not forgotten about their home.

Yvette Yates

Yvette Yates, a former El Pasoan who graduated with a B.S. in Physiological Science from UCLA, decided to pursue a career in acting while in Los Angeles; a gamble that has begun to pay off. She appeared with a screening of 2014 action film In the Blood, in which she has a supporting role.

From the El Paso Times article  Hollywood career begins to take off for former El Pasoan:

I want to continue working as long as I can. You just have to believe in yourself and surround yourself with the right people. For me, it's about continuing to evolve and challenging myself and I feel fortunate that I continue to work in different genres and different roles. - Yvette Yates

Yates was recently cast in Paul Thomas Anderson's new film Inherent Vice, a believed Oscar contender due out in December. 

Ryan Piers Williams

Ryan Piers Williams, a graduate of Hanks High School who attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated from USC's Film School, screened his first film The Dry Land  at PCFF 2010, eight months after it premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.


Ryan brought his newest film, X/Y, to the Plaza Classic Film Festival as well as one he produced, Kilimanjaro.  He also hosted a breakfast event for local filmmakers, and spoke to the festival's film club, made up of high school students interested in the world of film.

Williams currently resides in New York where he continues to expand his career as a filmmaker and actor.

While Yates and Williams have found success outside of El Paso, a new generation of talent has emerged on to the El Paso film scene.  Diego Rico, Krisstian De Lara, and Leo Aguirre all had works screened as part of this year's Local Flavor Series.

Diego Rico

The recent UTEP graduate has described El Paso as an area rich with culture that is in the midst of a creative awakening.   

Rico's film, Gift of Gab , had its world premiere at the 30th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival and has since gone on to screen at Cine Las Americas , Worldfest Houston International Film Festival, and the White Sands International Film Festival.

Diego, along with his filmmaking partner Armando Mena, continue to make El Paso their creative home.

From the El Paso Times article "Creative awakening': Budding El Paso arts community attracts attention of film world"

Places like L.A. and New York have saturated markets, but El Paso has a unique perspective to offer. I want to be here and continue to build my platform from here. - Diego Rico

Diego Rico is currently working on his newest project, Sunrise, which is set to begin production in October of 2014.

Krisstian De Lara

Krisstian De Lara , another filmmaker from El Paso, went to UTEP for his undergraduate degree and recently graduated from the University of Miami with a Master of Fine Arts in Motion Pictures Productions. 

Right after graduation, he worked with a creative team to produce international commercials for The Walt Disney Company.

His newest film, Sub Rosa , screened at at the 2014 Plaza Classic Film Festival in El Paso.

I am thrilled that Sub Rosa was able to premiere in my hometown at the Plaza Classic Film Festival, a festival iconic for its diverse border films and filmmakers that showcase local issues and the beautiful landscapes of El Paso. - Krisstian De Lara

Krisstian originally began his career as a production at KINT Univision 26 here in El Paso and soon began directing commercials for the televisions station.

I take one opportunity at a time but hope to one day create content with an international audience and tell stories that will make people laugh or cry and hopefully touch their lives in a way they will always remember. - Krisstian De Lara

Krisstian currently in pre-production for an upcoming independent horror feature film being shot in Miami.

Leo Aguirre

As one the younger filmmakers to come out of El Paso, former UTEP student Leo Aguirre's  short film, El Fuego Detras, had its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival back in May of 2014 and will be screening later this year at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival.

From the Prospector Article Student to showcase short film at Cannes Film Fest in France

“To be able to go to Cannes with a film shot here, with actors from here, means a great deal to the cast and crew and to the community as well,” - Leo Aguirre

Brian Ceely, who plays Stan in the film, was the cowriter of the film and Leo's cousin, Deane Aoun, played the other main character Luz.

The three of them teamed up with local filmmakers Jaime Blanco and Luis Ruiz of DoubleScope Films for the production of El Fuego Detras.

Charles Horak interviewed Leo Aguirre on his radio show  ON FILM . Charles and Leo talked about El Fuego Detras and also about his new upcoming project A Breach on the Horizon .

Leo Aguirre has since been accepted to the University of Texas at Austin  where he will continue his education in the Radio-TV-Film  program.

I think that the best advice that I received early on by film mentors was to never compromise quality. That’s also something that I have been fortunate enough to learn along the way through trial and error.

As eager as you may be to finish your film whether it be a three-minute short or a one-hundred-and-twenty-minute feature, you need to polish the edges and refine every facet of the film. - Leo Aguirre

The future is looking bright for several young filmmakers emerging from El Paso, TX and with the help of organzations like the El Paso Community Foundation  and EpFilm , the indie film community has begun to grow.

Can we as a city keep our young creatives with the limited resources we have?

Only time will tell.

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