Bridging Concept To Creation: An interview with filmmaker, Gaby Lasala

Untitled design (3).jpg

Field Notes Interview #65: Gaby Lasala, Filmmaker

In this latest installment of the Field Notes Interview series, we chat with San Diego-based filmmaker, Gaby Lasala about how ideas sometimes need multiple perspectives to become reality.

There can be a long road in between ideas and actualization when it comes to telling your story. For Gaby, this is a road that she knows well and has found the tools to travel on it -- the key is in collaboration. Having years of experience as a video production engineer for Qualcomm, Inc., she took her knowledge and started her own video production business called Collective Kin, where she creates short films for clients large and small in effort to find clarity in their voice. There's an ease with her films that are approachable and have an effortless pacing to them that draws you in immediately. One of the compelling elements consistent in each of Lasala's films is how the music seamlessly pairs with the picture and conveys a cohesive narrative. While Lasala writes, directs and produces most of her projects, she finds a lot of power in working with others to create something fully conceptualized. Much like her films, Lasala is fueled by the motive of social social action in her life and wishes that others find the same sense of inspiration after watching her films. 

We chatted with Gaby about hitting the learning on the job and the battle to not be an isolated island in the creative filmmaking world.

M: Who are you?

GL: My name is Gaby Lasala. I’m half Spanish (Spain) and half Puerto Rican. I grew up in Puerto Rico for most of my life and spent my summers and holidays with my dad in Arizona, where I was born. I moved to San Diego 5+ years ago and currently live and work in San Diego, CA.

M: Why film? What compelled you to be a filmmaker?

GL: If you told me ten years ago that I would be pursuing filmmaking, I would have laughed. I did not grow up watching a lot of films or movies. I played music in a hardcore band back in Puerto Rico and I was convinced music would be an exclusive part of the rest of my life. But because I was pretty sure that playing in a band wouldn’t serve as a life-long career, I chose to find another facet of music to be passionate about and thus, my pursuit to be a real good audio engineer began. After moving to California 5+ years ago, I would run sound & mix for bands and conferences at my school and other places hoping to get more and more gigs. 

Four years ago, I was finishing a degree at a small college in Southern California when one of my favorite teachers decided to teach a video production class my last semester before graduation. I had finished all of my requirements and decided to take it to get an easy A. In short, I fell in love. The intricacies of crafting and molding an idea into a story and getting to shape it with time, effort, and collaboration was very similar to the world of music I had grown accustomed to. I had not been exposed to filmmaking in the past and was quite ignorant of it before taking this class but I soaked up everything taught like a sponge. I made my first short film that semester, which was horrible of course, but I left feeling like I had found my a new way to express my passion for music and technology all in one. 

M: What's the most rewarding and frustrating part about being a filmmaker?

GL: The most rewarding part about being a filmmaker is hearing about and seeing people’s reaction to the film and take steps of action because of it. For example: In May, I released a Kickstarter campaign to make a short documentary on Jordyn Wagner, a young woman who has been fighting Lyme Disease for over ten years now. While in the end we didn’t reach our goal, I got to see so many people I knew and did not know give and share the short film I created for the campaign in a way I never expected. It was truly a beautiful thing. 

The most frustrating part about being a filmmaker is having all these ideas and concepts but not having the connections to others in the filmmaking community in California to call or rely on. I didn’t go to film or art school so my connections to actors, grips, gaffers, etc is very very limited. For example: I flew to Albuquerque, NM to film a short video for Go&Give Bars and I was on my own for the shoot and edited it on my own. Some of the projects I have worked on have been 100% collaboration and team work but some of the projects and scripts I have written have yet to come to life because I need more people to be a part of the project. I am certain that will change with time but in the meantime, I would say that not having enough passionate people to work with is the most frustrating part of filmmaking. 


M: How do you feel music has a role in film?

GL: I truly believe music is one of the most important and underrated characters in a film. Having a large background in music and audio engineering, I would even dare say a film without the right music will make it feel aimless and disconnect the viewer from the story. Music and sound has an almost supernatural ability to pull you into the story and help you intimately connect to the characters, the location, and the general storyline. If I am allowed to use an analogy, I would say that the difference between a film with the right music and one with really wacky music choices is like having perfect vision and seeing everything in color as to having poor vision and it all being in black and white. In short, a film with poor music choices might have some life but the right track will give a supernatural kind of life to the film.

M: How do you feel music is misused in film?

GL: It’s an epidemic. Just kidding…kind-of. I think a big part of why music is being misused in film is due to the lack of collaboration between different types of creatives. Filmmakers typically think they can figure it out all by themselves but we’re only as good as the people we trust and know. Just because a filmmaker can make something look awesome or tell it in a compelling way does not mean that they can score it or choose music that will fit the mood well. Another major way I have seen music be misused in film is the rampant bad habit of downloading a song in iTunes and not paying the musician or asking for permission. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people I know illegally add music to a film they did not license. I feel like it is dishonest and stealing from fellow comrades who are working really hard to pay their rent and feed their families.

M: What do you hope your audience will take away when they watch your films?

GL: My hope is that they will leave wanting more and acting upon that want. I have a tendency to end mildly ambiguously because I trust my audience with the next step: whether it is to donate to a charity, go to a film fest, help their neighbor, be a good human, etc. 

M: What's the most recent album you've listened to?

GL: Bryan John Appleby’s The Narrow Valley.

M: How do you know when you're finished with a project?

GL: This is tough because I end every project and I think to myself: “I could’ve done this better, that better, changed that around” and use that to improve with my next film. With that said, I think either because I’m close to my deadline or it’s the best I could do with the material I had. 

M: What makes a good story?

GL: A good story in filmmaking pulls the viewer in by not telling them what to believe or think but showing them instead. I believe its much more than just the acting (although it is very important of course); it’s the whole. Setting/environment and music are two of the largely underrated character in a film that bring the story to completion. I believe a lot of what is omitted from the 16:9 or 4:3 screen contributes more to a good story than what is included.

M: What's coming up on the horizon in your life?

GL: In the next few months, I am preparing a short video series for a new micro-roastery startup in San Diego called Foxy Coffee Co. and leading my first UI/UX design project for a family business back home. Mid-2016, I will be packing up my stuff into my little old TDI and moving to Portland, Oregon to start the next chapter of life and further my pursuit towards more filmmaking opportunities.


We know you create awesome work, so share your recent film with us at We'll feature our favorites on the journal next week.

Posted on November 2, 2015 and filed under Field Notes.