Cal State LA graduate student and veteran eyes a top role in film industry
By Margie Low | Cal State LA News Service
J.J.Vazquez knows the role a producer plays in making a great film. As a student at Cal State LA, he approached his graduate studies the way a producer manages a production.
“As a producer, you have to keep the big picture in mind, while overseeing every aspect of the entire production—from hiring a director and the crew to handling the finances,” Vazquez explains.
He has directed and produced award-winning film projects, earned honors for his academic achievements, and served as a mentor to younger students.
In May, the La Habra resident graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Television, Film and Theatre with an option in production. Vazquez graduated magna cum laude from the College of Arts and Letters.
Vazquez served for four years in the U.S. Army and had planned to become a professor of military history after his discharge. One day a friend asked him to fill in as a production assistant on a video shoot. That experience sparked his interest in television and film and eventually led Vazquez to Cal State LA. What began as a favor turned into a deep passion and a new career path.
Vazquez’s dream is to become the president of production for a film company.
At Cal State LA, Vazquez earned a Bachelor of Arts in Television, Film and Media Studies. For a few years he worked on film projects, then returned to pursue a master’s degree. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association awarded Vazquez a scholarship to support his graduate studies.
Vazquez co-produced The Shadow Hours, a sci-fi short film by Kyle Higgins that premiered at this year’s WonderCon Anaheim. He also recently co-produced Dragon Ball Z: Light of Hope, a Japanese anime. Vazquez’s work has received awards at the 48 Hour Film Festival, the Golden Eagle Film Festival, and the California State University Media Arts Festival. He is a member of the Television Academy and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers.
Vazquez credits his parents as well as professors at Cal State LA for contributing to his success as a producer.
From his father, who worked his way up to becoming a manager and owner of an embroidery company, Vazquez learned how to be organized and manage multiple tasks. His Cal State LA professors took extra time with him, sharing their knowledge. They connected him with industry professionals and career opportunities.
To give back, Vazquez works part time as a teaching associate on campus, sharing what he learned with the next generation of producers. He also mentors students as a peer counselor.
After graduation, Vazquez will continue to work on the production of a weekly livestream podcast called Dreamer Comics. The Power Rangers: Shattered Grid comic book live-action trailer he co-produced has recently captured the attention of peers and notables in the industry. He has now been signed by a talent agency in Hollywood.
“It’s been fulfilling to see everything come together and to have been on the production team for the comic book trailer,” says Vazquez, who was hired on as a producer with Locomotion Pictures last October.