Spotlight on filmmaker

Lights, camera, action! With Jon Navarro’s short film being showcased at two major film festivals, he is now in the spotlight.

Navarro’s film, a 20-minute sci-fi paranormal thriller titled “The Gypsy,” was among 150 films chosen out of 500 submissions to appear during the New Filmmakers New York Spring Festival 2010 on Friday, April 2. The film will then be shown at the 11th Annual Bare Bones International Film Festival in Muskogee, Oklahoma at the end of April.

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for upcoming filmmakers like myself to have a forum where they can showcase their work and have that opportunity to really connect with other industry professionals and get their names out there.”

Nominated for Best Student short, the film is about a young man named David whose flawless life takes a sudden downturn when he discovers his new apartment is haunted by a murdered gypsy whose spirit is out to bring her killer to justice.

“I studied lots of horror films, so I wanted to pay homage to the classics of the ‘60s and ‘70s,” said the film and media studies major at LaGuardia Community College.

After writing the screenplay based on a friend’s short story, Navarro, who currently lives in Flushing and Crown Heights, shot the film in six days in Flushing and completed the final project three months later.

“Through his determination, Jon was able to make the most of opportunities to learn from working professional screenwriters, directors and editors in his classes,” said Professor Joyce Rheuban, Navarro’s American film course teacher who encouraged him to submit his project.

Aside from filmmaking, Navarro served in the military for 10 years and worked in the information technology field. He also wrote a novel, but a faulty hard drive deterred him from completing it. Despite that setback, he wrote his first feature screenplay that led to a connection with a film director, who hired him as a production assistant on a film.

Navarro said it was on the set that he decided that he wanted to be a filmmaker. He tried to learn everything about writing and making films on his own. Navarro said that he would “go the library and take out several books to read and study. I absorbed so much information from that and went back to school to put it into practice.”

By spring 2009, he felt he had a fair understanding of the craft and enrolled in LaGuardia’s film and media program, which he said he was initially unaware of. He said the classes he took at LaGuardia were invaluable and ultimately helped him to better his filmmaking.

“Filming is going to be my life,” he said. “My aspirations are to continue working on big projects and continue making two short films eventually within two to three years.”

For now, Navarro is working on two feature scripts – a horror and drama – as well as three short scripts that he plans on shooting this summer. He said that his goal within the next three years is to direct his first feature. Upon graduating in June, he plans to transfer to film school at NYU, Columbia or the University of Southern California.

“I really want to give a special thanks to my partner, Tiara Colon,” he said. “We were a two-man crew, we shot the whole thing; she’s been wonderful in the whole process. I’d also like to thank Susan Bermeo, who really trusted me to turn her short story into a movie and really helped me in the whole process.”

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