Fil-Am filmmaker to collaborate with HBO’s “Project Greenlight”

TAMPA, FL – A budget of $30 may not be much for many people nowadays. But for Filipino American filmmaker Joshua Ortiz, $30 was all it took to make an award-winning short film.

His family and friends appeared in the film for free. All Ortiz spent money on was pizza to feed them.

But the result of their collaboration is movie magic.

“No one can stop you from dreaming. But dreaming is not enough. Wake up and realize that this world owes you nothing. You have to fight every single day to convince yourself that you are good enough,” reads an excerpt from Ortiz’ two-minute inspirational film titled “Listen.”

“Listen” won “Most Unique Short Film” in the recent Greenie Awards — Hollywood pals Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s digital answer to the Oscars.

Ortiz said, “I feel humbled and lucky kasi we just did it for fun. Then nakapasok kami dun.”

Ortiz said he originally made “Listen” to motivate his siblings to follow their dreams.

“Listen” was also inspired by his own failures in the past to make it to film competitions.

Last year, when he entered “Listen” to Project Greenlight –- a documentary series on HBO produced by Affleck and Damon, he did not make the cut in the finals.

But just like his film says, giving up was not an option — “If you do what you love and you never give up, you’ll realize that failure doesn’t mean you lost, it’s just a reminder to get back up.”

“Listen” also won the “Best Cinematic Short Film” award at the Orlando Urban Film and Music Festival last year.

“We might do a Tagalog version actually, because Filipinos are like, ‘we need a Tagalog version.’ We might do that, maybe another version down the road,” Ortiz said.

Meantime, Ortiz is making another first in filmmaking.

He started a new company called Trip Cinema where Ortiz and his crew will capture a family’s dream vacation on film.

“It’s like wedding videography but for the vacation. So we film them on vacation and we make a movie about their vacation,” he said. “Since I live in Orlando, tourists are there all the time.” 

Another project in the works for Ortiz –- he’ll be producing a documentary at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. His subject will be Bob Beamon, the 1968 Olympic world record holder in the long jump competition.

“If everything goes through, we’re going to film there in Rio with Sir Bob Beamon,” he said. “The documentary is about his life and how no one has been able to beat his record.”

The $30 film “Listen” continues to open doors for Ortiz.

In a phone conversation Tuesday night, the Fil-Am filmmaker was told by the Project Greenlight team were so impressed with “Listen” that they’re once again reaching out to him for future collaborations.

You may contact Don Tagala at for more information.

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