For nearly two decades, Alex Muñoz has been making independent and experimental films for fifteen years that give voice to minorities and are set against the beautiful and the damned in LA.
Muñoz founded the non-profit Films by Youth Inside, creating opportunities for incarcerated youth to learn about film and storytelling. In 2013 “Aye Foo” won Best Comedy Webisode Series at Urban Mediamakers Film Festival and in 2014, Muñoz’s dramatic tribute to Michal Jackson “Griot’s Lament,” unraveled the artist’s oeuvre translating his lyrics into dialogue and went viral among MJ fans.
“I always treat everybody with respect whether it’s an actor or a custodian.” Muñoz recalled a fellow director who tried to feed his cast frozen burritos, while shooting in the desert with no microwave. The hungry cast ended up leaving, and the director destroyed his camera when he hooked it up to his car battery. The moral, Muñoz said, “Be respectful and always feed people well.”
What is your favorite taco in LA?
Kogi / Taco House/ King Taco/ Señor Fish
What brought you to LA?
I relocated to LA to become a filmmaker. People thought I was crazy to move down here before getting accepted into film school. I got an internship at a production company that specialized in music production video. On My second day of my internship I was selected to be the stand-in for a huge rock star. They wouldn’t tell me who the rock star was. I showed up on the set the next day and found myself face to face with Prince. Thus, I am the director formerly known as the stand-in for the artist known again as Prince.
During the shoot I received a letter of acceptance from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, and when I showed Prince and his band mates that I got accepted, Prince called me to the side. He said, "Break the rules, and do it your way, otherwise you will be nothing but a puppet. Don't go Hollywood man."
Everyone says Prince is aloof and distant, but he wasn't with me. I sometimes have audio recalls of my short conversation with him and today I am happy to call myself an independent filmmaker. Most of my projects are self-funded, or I go out and generate the funds I need to execute my vision.
Where are some of the spots/graffiti artists you chose to shoot in "Griot's Lament?"
In some dark unknown alleys in DTLA near Alameda street. When you enter this maze of murals, you feel like you are in different world. I have always liked graffiti and street art. The colors the artists use in the murals I used as backdrops really pop out like neon popcorn. LA is rich with unexpected bursts of color and representations of its residents. There is a taut tension here which does not exist in any other city in the world. LA right now is experiencing a burst of radical creativity, be it in the media arts or other genres. It's an exciting time to be in Los Angeles.
What has been the greatest technological advancement over your career as a filmmaker?
I really like shooting with the Alexa. I never would've imagined such a camera while I was in film school. I 'm also stunned by the development in camera lenses and speed. It's remarkable.
What would LA be better off without?
Cars! There are too many of them.
Find Alex Muñoz's website here: http://alexcmunoz.wix.com/writerdirector