How to Craft Your Story – Meet One Day in NYC’s Film Ambassador, Ramón J. Goñi

One Day in New York City from One Day on Earth on Vimeo.

On April 26th, 2014 hundreds of filmmakers, non-profit organizations, and inspired citizens will document stories and investigate 10 questions for the future of New York City as part of a city-wide, participatory media-creation event. The resulting media will be showcased in an interactive geo-tagged archive and a TV series on the future of the American city. In addition, local media partners will showcase the most powerful and inspiring videos created during the one-day filmmaking event on April 26th.

We are connecting and working with the leaders of the film and cause-based communities, join our movement here. We asked Ramón to answer some questions about his creative process, why he chose NYC, and advice for young filmmakers.

Ramón J. Goñi is a director, cinematographer and independent producer. In the early years of his career, Goñi worked as a correspondent in the US, UK, France and Spain for BBC News and several other international media outlets. After many years of intensive work with words – in English, Spanish and French – he felt the need to leap into a visual and more universal language: film direction and cinematography.

His work has been featured on some of the most influential fashion publications such as W Magazine, Vanity Fair, Vogue, SHOWstudio and Fashion TV as well as in art galleries and fashion film festivals around the world.
Ramón J. Goñi currently lives and works in New York City, where he launched SWOON NYC, a brand content and film production house specializing in developing innovative and striking digital advertising content for luxury and aspirational brands in the fashion, apparel and beauty industries.

His style lays somewhere in between fashion neo-noir, classic elegance visual storytelling and a fresh, upbeat vibe. He likes to describe his work as in between places.   He often takes inspiration from the intensity and subjectivity of human emotions, avoiding absolutes of any kind. His characters usually live in between some sort of surreal limbo and an expressionist stylized reality, inspired by either literary or artistic sources.

What first got you interested in film?

As everything good that happens in life, it was a bit of an accident and a bit of a logical step after working and struggling for several years trying to express myself with [other people’s] words in a language that was not my mother tongue. The shrinking budgets in journalism forced me to learn how to use a camera and shoot my own TV stories for BBC News. The financial crisis forced me to switch careers and launch my own independent production company if I wanted to stay in New York. And the rest is on my director’s reel!
It was a liberation from the constraints of the written word but also from the pressure of having to document other people’s narrative in an impartial way. Now I can tell my own story, or other people’s stories, not the way I see them but rather the way I feel them.

What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
Film is ultimately about human emotions. If somebody sees the World differently after watching a film -your film- no matter how they see it; mission accomplished. As filmmakers we have the responsibility to build and structure The Human narrative -in capital letters-, but when the movie ends every individual has then the responsibility to write their own narrative. The best advice I could give to aspiring filmmakers is never to cease being curious and hungry about everything; from the technology that makes cinema happen, to the little unnoticed stories that flood our everyday lives, to the big narratives that drive our existence. That’s what One Day on Earth is about, isn’t it?

What made you choose to start your company in NYC?
Necessity. I wanted to stay in this city, badly. And I had a reason here to call myself a foreigner. I had always been a foreigner, even in my own country, but here I was a foreigner with everyone around me including born New Yorkers who saw their city change every day. Everything flows, everything changes here. You either accept change and embrace it or you’d better live and work elsewhere. We can all go out of business and get kicked out of our apartments tomorrow… for real.

However, in that perpetual flow of change I had started to build this feeling of “home” I had never felt anywhere else, not even where I came from (Spain). I found the talented people who would become my friends, co-workers, associates, business partners… my New York family. And that’s what New York is about; meeting the people you came here to meet, and keeping them around. Launching a company here allowed me to do just that.

How would you describe your creative process?
Dysfunctional, contradictory, and somewhat painful… but also incredibly rewarding and somewhat addictive. I want to get things done, out of the way, out of myself but at the same time I’m always craving for a new project to happen so I can get started with it. Creating something is not necessarily a joyful exercise at all stages of the creative process, but it’s definitely a rewarding experience. It’s addictive too, as many other things in this city, you can’t get enough of it. It’s like hunger. It keeps coming back for more.

Who is your greatest inspiration?
Some cross-pollination of Stephen Soderbergh, Stanley Kubrick and Marina Abramovic… Soderbergh’s incredible technical savoir-faire, story-telling craft and continuos pursuit for reinvention; Kubrick’s deep understanding of the Human narrative and Cinema as a whole; and Abramovic’s truly genuine approach to Art and her commitment to performance and the eternal but yet fleeting character of human emotions.

Recently, what song/band have you been playing nonstop?
Hot Chip, Metronomy, Phoenix and Midnight Juggernauts

What film(s) do you watch to cheer yourself up?
I actually watched some of my work, think I can do much better than that, somewhat feel happy for having achieved to finish a few things in my life… and impatient for not quite been “there” yet, so I get back to work.

But the reality is that my guilty pleasure is pretty much any Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Melissa McCarthy, Jennifer Anniston or Hugh Grant comedy or rom-com; from The Heat, to Bridesmaids, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Proposal, Love Actually, Four Weddings and a Funeral… the list is endless! It’s too bad there’s not an Oscar category only for that genre. Animation movies have one!

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