La Casita Rosa

Filmmaker Q&A with Director Elvin Herrera

Is there a particular documentary film or filmmaker that had a major influence on your career?

Yes. The cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, one of the greats of Mexico’s golden age of cinema. He greatly inspired me with my own cinematography. His mastery in composition and framing has influenced the way I process my artistic approach in filming. I also admire Diego Huerta, a renowned Mexican photographer known for photographing Mexico’s indigenous communities with such elegance and respect. His successful use of color and lighting are two elements I tend to use in my own style of cinematography.


What motivated you to make this impact video?

I am drawn to social justice and my stories tend to be about communities fighting for change. This film was my rediscovery into why I wanted to become a filmmaker in the first place. Which was to tell the stories of my people.


Please tell us what camera(s) you shot with primarily – and any other special equipment that you used and why you used it.

I mostly shot the film using Canon equipment. A Canon 5D, a Canon 70D, and Canon EF lenses. As well as a couple of prime Rokinon lenses. For audio I used a Zoom and RODE mic.


Please tell us about any special styles or techniques that you used during the production of your impact video to help tell your story. 

Walter, the Honduran refugee that is seen carving a vase of metallic flowers from recycled soda cans halfway through the film, was very shy for the cameras. He did not want to sit down for an interview. I told him that I found his work very unique and would only film him working on his flowers. A day after I filmed him, he became more comfortable with me, I asked if he was fine with doing an interview with only a mic, and luckily he agreed.


How did your story evolve from day one, to the very last day in post? Is your story what you thought it would be?

I actually wanted the film to be a feature, but since I was in Veracruz for a week, I only captured enough footage to make a compelling short film. After the final edit, I realized that the story I was trying to tell had been captured with the footage I had filmed. I am more than content with how the film turned out.


Please describe the most rewarding experience you had while making this film. 

The most rewarding moments that I have had with this film have been the receptions. At every screening the audiences always have a positive and heartfelt response. As filmmakers, we are our worst judges, we criticize our own work, but the real testament relies on how the audiences react. So far, I have been blessed with very touching reviews.


What advice can you give to other impact filmmakers?

I picked a subject matter that has been made into two documentaries in the past as well as numerous news stories. My advice is that if you decide to make a film about a subject matter that has been used in the past, find your voice and individual take on it. Always ask yourself first, am I the right person to tell this story? Why does this story need to get told? And who is this story for?


What’s your favorite part about the filmmaking process and why?

My favorite part of the filmmaking process is the filming itself. I really enjoy shooting for documentaries because although you may have a shotlist ready, with documentaries, the cinematography always becomes organic and unpredictable. You have to think quickly of getting the best shots and composition that will built and enhance your story.


What’s the one item you always take with you when working out in the field and why? 

I always take enough batteries for the camera.


Please provide a brief description of the work or organization featured in your video:

Las Patronas was formed 25 years ago in Veracruz Mexico. Initially they were a band of sisters, the Romero’s, who with the guidance of their mother, all began raising donations from the community. The train tracks were built alongside their neighborhood, and they would see hungry and tired migrants riding them everyday. Every time they would yell out for food and water, the women felt the need to aid the migrants. Eventually over the course of two decades the women attracted international attention.


Please share a personal story about your experience making this impact video.

Many people from the audience ask about getting in contact with Las Patronas. The film inspires them to travel to Veracruz and volunteer at their location. I always share the contact info with them and explain that Las Patronas are always willing to take in volunteers for any amount of time.


What do you want audiences to take away from your film?

My hope for this film is to humanize the current exodus of people leaving Central America. I want audiences to see the efforts and struggles of what it means to find a better future for yourself and your family. The US is that place of prosperity and although many will argue that there are ethnic and racial injustices in the US that lead to disenfranchisement of minority communities, the US can still provide opportunities to those who never give up and work hard.


Please list key points that should be covered in a post-screening discussion:

Q) Why do these women donate their free time? Is it faith, goodwill, empathy?

A) It is actually all of the above

Q) Are the women getting paid?

A) They are all volunteers who rely on donations from the public and around the world.




Social Justice in second world countries


Please provide information on any recent developments regarding the issue or subjects of the film. How have things changed or not changed?

The film was well received in Kyrgyzstan and brought about a discussion on the role of urban v country dwellers, access to rights and institutions and shone a spotlight on small grassroots communities trying to effect change.

The bus continues to do its rounds….


What opportunities are available for those interested in getting further involved?

They can contact me if they wish to donate to Las Patronas or visit them in Veracruz.


Please provide any additional resources (websites, links to additional videos, forms, articles, etc.):



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