February 2015, Volume 19, Number 1

Making Their Mark

Film still
MDC alumnus Gabriel Sánchez, right, plays the title role in 'El Mago' ('The Wizard'), with Ana Rodríguez as the pianist, at left.

The Wizards of MDC

Poster for 'El Mago'

Working on the award-winning short film El Mago (The Wizard) brought fond memories to mind for MDC alumnus David Liz.

“I served as the director, cinematographer and editor,” Liz said of El Mago, which recently won Best Art Film and Best Original Music at the prestigious Monaco International Film Festival. “It brought me back to my roots at MDC, where we all pitched in to create great work.”

Liz, who is now working as a writer and director, credits MDC with getting him started in his film career.

“Miami Dade College is where I discovered that film was something I could pursue,” he said. “Before that, I had dreams and aspirations, but no clue how to achieve them.”

Group Effort Yields Rewards

The teamwork involved to create El Mago is a shining example of the talent that fills the classrooms and state-of-the-art film and sound studios at MDC. The short film was produced by Ana L. Rodríguez, who teaches music appreciation and piano at North Campus. She composed and recorded the music in the 12-minute  film, where the score plays a starring role and there is no dialogue. She also has an acting role as the pianist.

The idea for the film was inspired by Gabriel Sánchez, a former student of Rodríguez.

“He would always tell me: ‘You should put your music on YouTube,’ ” she said.

Years later, she decided to make a music video. During that process, the video evolved into a short film.

Straddling Genres

“It’s a hybrid work that blurs the lines between music film and short video,” Rodríguez explained.

Sánchez said their concept of a music video for classical compositions that also contains a plot was atypical for the medium.

“Ana and I brainstormed, and we came up with the idea for the story, and we ran with it,” he said. “Ana is free-spirited but meticulous and open to a lot of ideas. She is always bustling with energy and ready to tackle any project.”

Besides Liz and Rodríguez, MDC connections run deep throughout the film. The sound editor is Julio Licona, who is studying music at MDC’s North Campus and will graduate this spring. And the screenplay was written by Agustín González, an MDC faculty member in the film department.

As for the cast, Sánchez has the title role of El Mago, and Miami Dade College acting student Héctor Montoto plays the security guard.

A Medic and an Artist

Montoto, who works as a rehab technician at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s burn unit, said he is pursuing acting as his ultimate career.

“This was my first experience in a film, and I loved it,” he said. “I have big goals that I want to pursue in acting.”

Sánchez, who earned a degree from MDC with a focus in music, is now working on a bachelor’s degree in biology at MDC. He also plays guitar and performs professionally in local venues.

With these many talents, Sánchez figures that whatever he does with his biology degree will pay the bills, while the music will always fulfill his  artistic aspirations.

The versatile skill sets of Sánchez, Montoto, Liz and the others on the project come as no surprise to Rodríguez.

“One thing about working at MDC, you realize how much talent there is on campus,” she said. “I truly value and appreciate the people I’m surrounded by at Miami Dade College.”

— WV

More Making Their Mark Articles

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution which does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
disability, veteran’s status, ethnicity, pregnancy, sexual orientation or genetic information. Additional information may be obtained by contacting the
Office of Equal Opportunity Programs/ADA Coordinator/Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577.