Friday, February 7

Interview with Abe Duenas

"Born in L.A.," Abe Duenas is an award winning, "short film producer who tells corporate history and family legacy stories."  The son of "old school Latinos," he is also a proud, Hispanic painter, currently "working on a Chicano painting series that celebrates the culture of the first generation Chicano growing up in this country."  Also currently, he is looking for Latino actors for a romantic comedy which he intends to film in South Carolina.

WMV:  Was your surname originally "Dueñas," and, if so, what were your female ancestors the owners of?

Abe:  Yes, my surname is originally "Dueñas," but sadly, all I know  about my name is that just about all the Dueñas' I know originated from Dueñas, Palencia, Spain, the motherland.

WMV:  Are you fluent in Spanish?  What other languages do you speak?

Abe:  I speak both English and Spanish fluently, and I now hear that Spanglish may be a recognized way of communicating.

WMV:  What countries and States have you traveled to?

Abe:  I was born in L.A. and it seemed like we only traveled to Mexico like George Lopez, when someone in my family was dying.  But when that wasn't the case, we traveled to twenty-nine of the States. 

WMV:  Which destinations are you favorites?
Expecting Goodness sculpture

Abe:  It's hard to say exactly which place is my  favorite, but I would have to say I find my self wanting to revisit Eureka, California more often than the rest.  The first time I visited, I remember bugging my dad to take us to Redwood Park where they filmed The Return of the Jedi so my brothers and  I could re-enact the scenes from Endor and pretend we were  Ewoks taking on the evil empire.  I pretty much love any  place where it is attached to some cinema history.  It's  cool to find those hidden spots wherever we visit.

WMV:  Where haven't you been that you'd like to  visit?

Abe:  The place I am still waiting to visit is Europe. 

I moved out to the East Coast partly because I love history and wanted to live amongst the places I read about in school; I mean I  live in the only county that has two revolutionary battle sites in the country:  Cherokee County, South Carolina.  So, naturally, I would be interested in the rich culture Europe offers.

WMV:  Why are you not a long film producer?

Abe:  Well, it's not that I don't want to produce a feature film, I  actually have several treatments for features and am currently finishing up a script for a feature I plan to shoot next fall.  The thing is, doing shorts for me has been very fulfilling; it has been a great way to figure out what sort of filmmaker I want to be, and also learn the many intricacies that go with this medium.  Having made over ten shorts and won awards with them, I feel it's time to move on to features.  That doesn't mean I won't ever do another short; I am currently slated to shoot one in March.

WMV:  What awards have you won?

Abe:  I have won The Expecting Goodness Film Festival in 2012, with my short "The Widowers Pearls," and The Lake Norman Film Festival In 2012, with "Dulce Vida" [Sweet Life].  I also have won a grant from the State of South Carolina's Film Commission to film one of my short films to represent the State as a filmmaker to the rest of the country, and I have been recognized for my film-making by Mofilm [] for my commercials I produce for them.

WMV:  Do you have an IMDb page?

Abe:  I do have an IMDb; it's

WMV:  One of the paintings and several of the photographs on your website are of toddlers and infants.  Are they your children?

Abe:  LOL!  Yeah, Sarai is my daughter, and she pretty much is my little muse.  I have been filming her and taking her pictures ever since she was born, and actually have begun painting pictures I have taken with my Instagram from my phone. 

The reason is that those images are too small to be blown up and framed, so I have painted my faves and still have many to do. 

It's funny stumbling on something people want, 'cause it seems I am not the only one that has that problem.  I have already been commissioned to paint other people's cell phone pics they have stored in their phones.

WMV:  What would you like to tell our readers about your parents, siblings, significant others, children, and/or any other friends and relatives?
Pit bull portrait

Abe:  My parents are old school Latinos, and I love that about  them. 

I come from a big family; we are five boys, two girls, and a lot of the material that's in my films comes straight out of the pages of my life, living with my siblings.  I mean, last night, my daughter asked me to tell her a story about when I was a kid with her Tíos [uncles], so I told her about the time this old, mean billy goat (Rambo) got out of the fence, and chased us all and ended up head butting my little brother, Sammy.  So, yeah, life on the rancho was an adventure, and there's plenty  more where that came from. 

I'm actually working on a Chicano painting series that celebrates the culture of the first generation Chicano growing up in this country; it will feature the abuelita [dear, little grandmother] making fresh tortillas by hand, the father working two jobs to support his family, the  seamstress mother and the tons of chamacos [children] and their traversuras [travesuras, mischievous deeds] that made up the fabric of one Chicano's life.

WMV:  One of the paintings on your website is of a bulldog.  One of the photographs is of, perhaps, a Golden Retriever.  Are they your pets?

Abe:  The Bulldog painting is also from an Instagram photo; he is my dog, Rocky, and I actually have a short vlog on that painting online, and the other dog is Barley, a lover of the Frisbee.  I actually took that photo when I stopped throwing his fave disk.  He belongs to my brother. 

Sadly, Rocky is no longer with us.  I miss him tremendously, and actually plan to do a short film, inspired by his loss.

WMV:  Pit bulls represent umpteen times their share, by species, of dog attacks.  Where do you stand on the criminalization of pit bulls?

Abe:  I'm glad you asked.  I actually got Rocky from a shelter.  And, when I found him, he had been taken from some one who cropped his ears with a pair of scissors. (yeah, I know...  I  still get sick when I tell people that) and had been fought, and still had wounds that were healing.  And, even after going through all of that, he still had a great disposition.  He won a guy, who was about to have his first baby, over.  I had never had or wanted a Pit because of what I had seen on TV and the media.  I still understand how people feel about the breed, but to me it's not just about the breed.  It's  about the owner; not everyone should have a Pit; they are  dogs that have specific needs.  Just like it's not a good  idea for an apartment dwelling person to have a hyper-active dog and never exercise him, there are things a Pit owner must be willing to do in training his dog.  I am by no means a dog trainer or anything, but I do think I am responsible enough to have a Pit.  I think part of the reason I even took Rocky in was because of the education I got from programs like the "Dog Whisperer."  It just comes down to being responsible.  It's sad it always come back to the breed and not the owner.

WMV:  Your paintings appear to be in various styles, including impressionistic.  Who and/or what are your inspirations?

Abe:  I love a lot of painters, and have actually done  reproductions of [Pablo] Picasso, Ed Hopper, [Pierre-Auguste] Renoir, [Claude] Monet and [Vincent] van Gogh.  I think all of the painters I have studied have influenced my work; I even think some of today's artists I meet sometimes inspire me as well as the old masters.

WMV:  What weblinks, if any, would you like to share with our readers?

Abe:  I really enjoy connecting with people, even if it's just to chat about everyday stuff.  So, anyway, [if] they would like to reach me [it] is fine with me.  Also, anyone who signs up for my newsletter on my site is not only entered in my monthly art giveaway, but also gets private links to my films not yet released.  My latest film, "Donde Come Uno, Comen Dos" [Where One Eats, Two Eat] is currently making its festival run.

They can follow me on:

my Twitter @abeduenas

my Facebook studio page:

WMV:  As a film producer, how many people do you employ?

Abe:  When I shoot a film, I treat it like its own business, so each one is filled with freelance talent.

WMV:  What's the best way for someone to apply to become a member of your cast and/or crew?

Abe:  I am always looking for new talent, and living in the South makes it hard to shoot films about Latinos.  I currently have a romantic comedy about two young people dating (an East Indian girl dating a Mexican boy), and the fathers are not happy about this, but ultimately end up respecting each other because of the other's love for hot food.  But the problem is, there are  next to no Latino actors around here.  So, if you're a Latino actor and want to work with me, contact me on any one of my sites.

WMV:  When you analyze applications from potential actors and crew members, how much do their IMDb pages come into play, if at all?

Abe:  Well their profile page can help if they have previous work and I can view it.  That doesn't mean you have to have one; one of the most memorable actors I used was a blues harmonica player, Fredie Vandeford, for my film "The Lot."  I knew he would be good in it 'cause he is just a natural entertainer. 

WMV:  How is ObamaCare affecting your business and/or family?

Abe:  Well in South Carolina it really is not at the moment, since  The Governor blocked its implementation.

WMV:  Your Facebook mentions Vacaville, California.  Were you born and raised in Vacaville?

Abe:  I was born in L.A, but lived in Vacaville for thirteen years; I basically spent all of my grade school years there.

WMV:  Where do you currently reside?

Abe:  I live in Gaffney, South Carolina.

WMV:  "Vaca" means "cow" in Spanish; is Vacaville known for producing some of the best beef in California?

Abe:  No, it was a town where there were plenty of cattle being raised, though; funny, 'cause the town I live in actually does have a beef processing plant in it.

WMV:  A recurring theme in your photographs is horses.  Do you own and/or ride horses?

Abe:  I wish I did, but I do have a good friend who shows horses, and having come from a rancho lifestyle, I have always [sought] out people with animals so that Sarai could have that same exposure.

WMV:  One of your photographs is a close-up of a saddle.  Do you work leather as well as metal?

Abe:  No, I wish I knew more about that, cause I think it's a great medium to be able to work with, and I appreciate those who can.

Interview by William Mortensen Vaughan

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