08/16/2012 01:45 pm ET Updated Oct 16, 2012

How NYILFF Helped Birth 'Filly Brown'

Seeing our film premiere at NYLIFF 2012 feels like we've come full circle. In 2006 when I attended the festival, I connected with Youssef and his family (brother Amir, sister-in-law Rafaela and his mom) while checking into the hotel. We met briefly at LALIFF but never had the chance to hang out and get to know each other. In 2006 we were the two filmmakers attending from Los Angeles. Even though I went to school in NY and lived in Manhattan for five years, I hadn't been back since 2000.

I guess you could say that Filly Brown ( at least for me) was conceived at NYLIFF 2006, because I spent the entire week with Youssef. During this time we learned we had similar tastes in film and decided that we should collaborate on something down the line. I never imagined it would be co-directing, but the conversation started there. Also, NYLIFF is a wonderful platform to celebrate our film on the east coast, expose the audience to the phenomenal performance of Gina Rodriquez, and connect with an entirely new audience. I'm looking forward to it.

I got here like all filmmakers I guess -- passion, preparedness, and opportunity - what we tend to sum up as luck. An overwhelming love of movies. A lot of hard, grueling work. A lot of failures. A lot of support from family, friends, and mentors. A lot of hard, grueling work (did I say that already?). Overall, the dream of making films. As Filly says, "Dream big."

Next for Filly Brown is distribution. Indomina, our distributors, are taking the film out first quarter 2013. We have lots of fun work ahead of us getting the word out to the audience. As you know it's a noisy playing field right now, and as an indie you really have to think outside the box to get eyes on your film. So we're strategizing on how to maximize our efforts.

I'm wearing many different hats these days. Right now I'm co-writing two scripts, one is The Girl with Oscar Torres, who wrote Innocent Voices. The other is Mettle with Bob Layton. I'm also close to finishing an amazing, fun, timely webseries concept with my wife, Resminé Atis. We also have a few TV projects in development that I'm focusing on. As one of the producers on the animated feature El Americano, we are about to move into production. It's a new medium and a great experience for me. I'm working closely with the creative team - directors Ricardo Arnaiz and Mike Kunkel, animation legends Phil Roman and Richard Pursel (who wrote the script), and singer/songwriter Aleks Syntec who is composing our main song. Staying busy, staying creative.