Sundance Series: Going Varsity in Mariachi

Published on in Exclusive Interviews

Every single year, Sundance Film Festival brings artists and audiences together for the premiere of groundbreaking work. This year, we had the opportunity to speak with many creatives and professionals who have worked on some of the incredible work being spotlighted at this incredible festival. 

Editor: Daniela Quiroz

Project: Going Varsity in Mariachi 


How long have you been in the industry and where do you draw your inspiration from?

Daniela Quiroz: I've been working on documentary films since 2010. I honestly draw inspiration from my everyday interactions, hearing people be passionate about their life stories, that inspires me to amplify stories that affect all of us. And of course my colleagues and filmmakers that work so tirelessly to tell these stories, we keep each other interested and engaged in the work we are passionate about.

What made you sign onto this project?

Daniela Quiroz: Joining the "Going Varsity in Mariachi" team was easy to say "yes" to. Everyone involved cared about the story and couldn't hide their excitement about the project. That's a testament to the connection and access that Alex and Sam had with the whole Mariachi team in RGV, they really set the tone. When I watched the fundraising sample I fell in love with the subjects immediately. And after talking to the team, they truly cared about everyone they were following in the film. The fact that Alex and Sam weren't just parachuting into the area, but had ties to rural Texas, Mariachi, and were living in the area for the whole year of filming were all reasons to say "yes". Ultimately this is one of the most inspiring, hardworking, intelligent group of people I've had the pleasure to work with. And we collaborated so well together, even through disagreements, it was just an amazing experience overall.

How do you know if a film is going to get into Sundance?

Daniela Quiroz: You really don't ever know! I approach (or try to!) every film the same way: craft the best possible story with the amount of time you have to make it, leave everything on the field, and hopefully festivals and audiences will connect with it!

Can you describe what it was like collaborating with the other pros (like the director) about feedback?

Daniela Quiroz: With remote editing the early stages of trust building and collaboration have become even more crucial to setting up clear and direct lines of communication between team members. We were always honest with each other and gave each other the space and respect to try out each other's ideas even if we disagreed with one another! Ultimately, we all had the film's best interests in mind with every note or feedback session, I knew we were always on the same page about where our motivations were coming from. The last few months of editing are so tight knit, and stressful, that it's so important to build that trust when things are a little more calm in the beginning, so we can then just power through those high intensity deadline moments. The role of an editor shifts depending on who you ask, but I see myself as a steward to the film, but the film is ultimately always the vision of the directors, so building that trust is crucial.

Do you have a favorite editing sequence? If so, what was it?

Daniela Quiroz: I think my favorite edit sequence was when Abby's try out scene with her violin for a spot on the college Mariachi team. I think the moment when she's warming up and calming her nerves right before was so intimate and quiet, and also one of the weirdest little moments of the film as well. I love any quirky moments we got to keep in the final edit.

What were some of the editing challenges you encountered? How did you handle those?

Daniela Quiroz: Probably the biggest challenge, as with most ensemble films, is the first 15 minutes; and usually it's one of the last things you end up figuring out as you see how the rest of the film progresses. We had a lot to set up with our characters, setting up the location, what encompasses a Mariachi band and a brief history of both Mariachi and ENHS. We wanted to really capture audiences' attention all at the same time while they were falling in love with the subjects and the music. So that was one of the most challenging jobs for the team to do!

Let's talk about your experience using Premiere Pro. What was that like? How did it help you accomplish your work?

Daniela Quiroz: It was great using Premiere Pro during this process. It was the software we all could hop on quickly and use and collaborate together because of how user friendly it is. I worked with the associate editor, Anna, who would make assemblies and selects of what I wanted to edit the following week, and she would send me transfer projects. It was also super easy to show the directors scenes remotely with transfer sequences or links. And then they could also hop on and pull any must have selects they loved as well! Overall a great collaborative process.

What advice would you have for directors on working with editors?

Daniela Quiroz: Be honest and open with your vision for the film to the editor, and that will allow communication to flow freely on both sides, which will result in the most healthy collaboration process. When these criteria are met it creates an amazing work culture that fosters creativity and ultimately will result in crafting the best possible story.

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