Filmmaker Diego Lozano On An Unconventional Path
Tell us about yourself. Include where you’re from, what you do, how you’re thriving, and anything else everyone should know about you.
My name is Diego Lozano. I am a music video director and a video editor. I am twenty-three years old and was born in Monterrey, Mexico. I grew up moving back and forth between Monterrey and McAllen, Texas. I started making videos on YouTube when I was 11 years old: handmade stop motion animations and surreal videos. I discovered video making through watching old cowboy films with my grandfather and through special features segments on DVDs. I made short films all through high school and confirmed that this was my life’s path after winning a local short film competition on my senior year. I felt appreciated for my talent, I was being seen for who I truly was, not for how much I sucked at school.
I left Mexico at the age of 19 to pursue a degree in Radio, Television, and Film at the University of Texas at Austin. I did not get accepted into the program. I spent two years trying to raise my grades at Austin’s local community college, figuring out ways to fulfill the requirements. Instead of focusing on fulfilling those requirements, I dropped out. I started filming bands in local bars, making connections and got straight to filming music videos, videography gigs; you name it, I faked it. I have spent the last four years working as a director, videographer, and editor. Today, my films have screened and won awards at over 30 film festivals around the world. They are often about obscure, tumultuous themes. They seduce the viewer into appreciating the volatile aspects of human nature. Greed, Lust, Hope, Passion. They are notably colorful, fast paced, feature a diverse cast, and are beautifully surreal.
My motivation for creating films is very spiritual, I don’t consider myself a cinephile or make films because I want them to be in theaters. Rather, I find that being a filmmaker and succeeding has proven to be such a visceral and challenging endeavor that requires all of my focus, love, and time. I love the fact that it allows me to pull from different artistic mediums such as music, photography and performance, blending it all together into the ultimate creative satisfaction. I am one of those people that if I’m not constantly creating, I will grow resentful and sad. I guess it’s safe to say that I am a filmmaker because the medium gives me something to live for and get better at for the rest of my life. I can create the best version of myself through creating films.
How do you identify culturally?
TEXICAN. LATINX. Or Mexican American Latinx millennial.
How does your cultural background inform your thinking and sense of being in the world? How has it informed past decisions, successes, failures?
Growing up in Mexico, specifically in a business-oriented city like Monterrey, finding my place as an artist wasn’t easy. There are some remarkable artists in the city, but mostly, there is a shortage [in work]. It was always about who the next person going into engineering, architecture, law was going to be, anyone else who defied that was in “high risk” of never having a successful career. Most of my friends from back home in Monterrey are in those career fields.I’m the only artist in our group. I was fortunate though because my parents and grandparents are all artists in some capacity. My father is an interior designer: he’s from Monterrey and my mother, who is also an interior designer, is from McAllen. They are both very artistic. My great-grandfather was a painter, sculptor and inventor.
I grew up in a culturally diverse household and that helped nurture my interests. I also lived in McAllen Texas. Life was simpler there, and I think my character was built there. It was more open, accepting, and free. I remember being more focused on going outside and hanging out with my friends than anything else, whereas in Monterrey, there was always some kind of social pressure. I was never a good student, and living in Monterrey I felt like I always had something to prove to society. I wanted to be great so I could prove my point. Determined, I moved to Austin, Texas to pursue a degree in film, but that did not work out as I didn’t get accepted into the program. Not getting accepted certainly built some resentment in my heart. The fire in my heart lit brighter though, I was now going to show society, and UT, that I was great. I spent most of the time I was supposed to be studying, exploring Austin. I’ve met some incredible people, been in some incredible places and built my ultimate self that way.
As I grew as an artist, I slowly let go of those grudges. The pressure I had felt my entire life slowly vanished. This is because, through the more laid back atmosphere in Austin and the challenge here, I’ve realized that my art is precious to me in a way that nothing else is. I have nothing to prove to anybody other than myself. I’m always seeking professional growth. I’m always thinking of bigger ideas, never settling. But this is no longer to show UT that they missed out, or to prove to my friends that I have a shot. I’ve developed a love for art deeper than any of that, I am my art and I will never give up. I believe in myself and I fundamentally care about reaching my full potential in this lifetime.
I do thank Monterrey’s capitalist nature for shaping me into a solid businessman. I feel like I have been able to navigate the independent film/music scene in Austin with some success because of the skills I learned back home, where “Money Talks”. In the Austin indie film/music scene specifically, people love to create but often lowball each other and create an anemic scene where art gets made but artists can’t make a living. It hasn’t been easy, and I’ve worked for free and have gotten stepped on and taken advantage of, but it’s mostly my fault for not seeing the big picture.
It took me a while to harness the business skills, and now I command a price and a value and I think that by doing that I make the scene a better place. I think if every artist valued themselves beyond creating, and gave themselves monetary worth even if just a little bit, we’d all be better off in the community and wouldn’t have to move elsewhere to continue creating. It’s a double edged sword though, because it’s only because of this very collaborative community that I’ve been able to execute my films in their intended scope, and I’m very grateful. It just sucks to literally starve for it.
Another thing that the societal expectations of Monterrey helped with is my art. Thanks to how close-minded people are, I’ve made it my mission to create controversial works that go against everything they believe true. Pushing progressive values in everything I create to introduce new concepts into a scene that would benefit greatly from seeing the other side.
What inspires you and who do you look up to?
I am inspired by humanity, specifically by nightlife. I like to go out to bars and observe people. The racing thoughts and freedom they experience when succumbing to the rhythm of music and colors of light. The sounds of the city, juxtaposed with the serenity of nature. The idea that we are all one. I thrive when observing humanity’s elusive nature; we do not like to accept the fact that at times we are fundamentally primitive. We are creatures of desire as much as we are creatures of reason.
I like to shed light into human consumption and abuse. Showing why sometimes it’s a good thing to be free, and how sometimes freedom can be the darkest force. I believe there is always light at the end of the tunnel and balance in the end of any journey, that is my ultimate inspiration. Creatively, I look up to directors Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Wong Kar Wai, and Paolo Sorrentino, music video directors BRTHR and Emil Nava, and musicians ZHU and BUKU. My favorite painting of all time is “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch.
What is your best piece of advice to anyone who may be struggling?
First of all, push yourself to your absolute limit, work as hard as you can. Then, when you look around and feel like everybody is moving faster than you, take a deep breath. Be grateful for what you have accomplished and realize that there’s a process to the outcome you are looking for, you can’t skip it. Just keep breathing and start the process all over again. You’ll get there.
What are your future goals and aspirations?
I am now starting to work with bigger record labels and musical acts, in both the US and Mexico, and I am actively looking for ways to branch out into commercial directing and slowly but surely build a career in that. I strive to win a Grammy or a LATIN Grammy for best music video before hitting thirty. I want to make a couple of film projects that I hold very dear to my heart that I believe will make humanity, specifically the audience that consumes visual media, have a kinder hearts and reconsider their consumption patterns. I want to create videos that look and feel like capitalist advertising on the surface. I want to trick the audience into consuming the product I’m selling. The catch? That such products will nurture transcendental themes and values such as feminism, ecological mindfulness, and the acceptance of all peoples regardless of race, gender, etc. I want to re-shape the way people consume products in a way they can understand with all the glitz and glam, for the better!
Share one thing people should know about the Latinx community?
There’s a lot of diversity within the LATINX community. There’s a lot of subcultures. We are powerful, united, colorful, and creative.
What is your favorite Latinx driven project and why is it your favorite?
LATINX SPACES. The fact that they write about Latinx people in the community and give them exposure and a space to express themselves is a beautiful gesture. I also went to “LATINX Creatives Meet Up” a bit back and loved the event. Shoutout to Jeannette Nevarez who put the event together.
Where can people find you on the internet?