Filmmaker Spotlight: Patricio Ginelsa

Patricio Ginelsa is the director, writer and producer of “Bigger They Come.” The film will be featured on the X1 Asian American destination in February’s Inspirational Sports Movies collection. We had the pleasure of asking Patricio what inspired his filmmaking journey and how his Filipino-American heritage influences his work.

Patricio Ginelsa. Image Credit: J.J. Casas

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Patricio Ginelsa: “Bigger They Come” is an extended short-film version of a music video I shot for the Bay Area reggae band Native Elements. It’s about a female fighter who enters an underground fight tournament. The band allowed me to visualize their songs and fuse it with my love of Street Fighter, anime and comic books. This was originally conceived as a chapter of a bigger feature film I’m still developing.

How did you get into filmmaking?

PG: I took my dad’s camcorder and started shooting movies with my Daly City neighbors. It was a hobby that I took seriously. Every summer we would make a homemade movie called “Kid Heroes” and then pass along the VHS tapes to our friends during the school year. Fans would join the following summer movie shoots. By the time “Kid Heroes 3” came out, the whole neighborhood was in the movie!

It was “Boyz n the Hood” that made me pursue filmmaking as a career and USC as my dream school. It was then the Filipino-American film “The Debut” that gave me my first feature credit and created my true manifesto as a filmmaker.

What are some films that have inspired you?

PG: This is definitely not my film school answer, but I’ve watched the animated “The Transformers” movie more than I have ever watched any other films in my life. “Superman II,” “Terminator 2,” “RoboCop” and the original “Star Wars” films all shaped my imagination and love of film. My favorite windows to other cultures were films like “La Bamba, “The Wedding Banquet” and “Smoke Signals.”

James Cameron, Ang Lee, Robert Rodriguez and my mentor Don Coscarelli are all filmmakers that have inspired me in different ways.

Do you have a favorite Asian-American film?

PG: “The Debut.” No question. This little film became a huge chunk of my life. It was my true film school. It’s where I met my wife and got to drive cross-country multiple times.

Image Credit: Kid Hero Productions

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

PG: It motivates me to tell the stories of Filipino America that we don’t get to read about in history books or see on the screen. I took advantage of any mainstream platform I had to tell a piece of that narrative. When I directed the Black Eyed Peas’ music videos “The APL Song” and “Bebot,” I fought to include the Filipino WWII veterans and Stockton’s Little Manila history in the storyline. We can’t wait for anyone else to tell our stories, so it’s our job and responsibility to do so.

What is your outlook on the state of Asian American cinema?

PG: Quiet. We have a lot of successful Asian American artists but Asian American cinema has been quiet—save a few screams here and there. We live in a generation now where everyone has a camera and anyone can broadcast their voice. You can see someone like you on any screen now, so the need for representation isn’t the same as before. But I feel there is a growing need for more Asian American content. People just don’t know it yet. The biggest challenges are the “crab mentality” and finding content that gets a community fired up and excited—a movie that is at heart an Asian American film, but is able to cross over. That’s Asian American cinema’s biggest need so that filmmakers can use those box office numbers to fund their own Asian American films.

What’s next for you?

PG: I’m close to completing my feature film “Lumpia 2” finally this year. We were Kickstarted 5 years ago and I owe my “Lumpia” lovers a kick-ass movie. We were blessed to finally shoot last summer with UFC Fighter Mark Muñoz and Machete himself Danny Trejo. Great cast and crew! I also secured the rights to my next project, if I’m fortunate enough to make another movie.

Image Credit: Patricio Ginelsa

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Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Patricio Ginelsa! Watch “Bigger They Comeon the X1 Asian American destination or with Xfinity Stream this February.

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For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian American news and entertainment visit Xfinity Asian American.