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By Dayami Padron, FIU Film Studies writer

Award-winning filmmaker and FIU alum, Gabriel Rhenals, talks about starting a company and his latest festival run. Gabriel has several short films under his belt and he’s been featured at events like the Miami Short Film Festival. With accolades like “Best Screenplay,” Gabriel is quickly becoming someone to watch. He assures us that the most essential resource for anyone planning to make a film is a dream.

1. So Gabriel, what got you interested in film?

My interest in film is based in the limitless joy of using it to express any variety of ideas and emotions with the megaton force of visual storytelling! I’m intrigued by the medium’s ability to permeate cultural barriers and bring people together in appreciation, repudiation, or collision over a given cinematic experience. My interest is also significantly rooted in the art form’s immense potential to captivate and deliver compelling experiences with only a meager amount of resources.

2. Your films have a distinguished nuance. How many projects have you worked on and how has your artistic vision developed along the way?

Thanks for saying so! To date, I have completed 16 short films as writer, producer, director, cinematographer and editor and written a feature-length screenplay. My artistic vision or, to use a less flattering phrase, my modus operandi remains largely intact since the making of my first short film. My overarching goal remains to work frugally and nimbly, and to exercise exacting control over the content and form of my work. I also still favor simple stories with great visual potential and naturalistic acting.

3. How did you form your company, Hard Edge Films?

All I had to do was print out some business cards with the name on them. Just kidding! Early on, my whole filmmaking operation was very much a one-man-show with the support of my friends and teachers in high school. But over time, my fledgling Hard Edge Films outfit has grown to include not only the amazing talents of the actors and actresses I work with, but some key creative collaborators as well, foremost of whom is Ben Morris, who has not only composed the music for my last three short films but provides significant input on story ideas early on.

4. Many great things are in the works for you. Among them, a festival run for your latest short film, a new website and your first feature-length film. We would love to hear more about these.

Yes, indeed! I have submitted my latest short film, The Promotion, to various local film festivals and a few non-local major league ones as well. Stephanie Maltez plays a young woman who’s all about her career. Consequences be damned! Regarding the new website, I thought I needed a centralized portfolio as I look for work and continue to make my brand known far and wide. As for my first feature-length film, its script is still in the works and I look forward to embarking on its production in the not-too-distant future.

5. Many of our students share your passion for film. They want to do what you’re doing. Could you please tell us about some of the opportunities you took advantage during your time at FIU?

FIU is absolutely teeming with people, organizations and resources for any young person interested in film. The Film Studies Certificate Program is top-quality. The Film Initiative hosts weekly movie screenings and a general meeting for aspiring filmmakers. Also, our Green Library is home to a wealth of film books, DVDs and an online film streaming service. But the best opportunity I took advantage of at FIU, occurred before I was even a student here. I would visit campus with my older brother, find a quiet place to sit in GL and that’s where I started writing my first short film. And if anything’s remained a constant for me in filmmaking, it’s finding a place to sit by myself and dream it all up.

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