Project VoiceScape: Meet Filmmaker Sergio Ricardo Ortiz

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View the full Project VoiceScape documentary short films and vote your favorite until Sept. 30, 2011!

Project VoiceScape is a partnership with Adobe Youth Voices, PBS and POV to mentor today’s best young documentary filmmakers. Keep up with news from the filmmakers and their mentors on the Project VoiceScape blog.

Sergio Ricardo Ortiz - Project VoiceScape

Project VoiceScape filmmaker
Sergio Ricardo Ortiz

Sixteen-year-old Sergio Ricardo Ortiz of Viera, Florida, is a gamer. There’s no doubt about it. But when he starting asking whether video game violence could affect behavior in the real world, he knew he was onto an idea that could make for a great documentary.

The result of his curiosity is Pwning @ Life, a Project VoiceScape grant-winning documentary.

Sergio learned of the grant from Mrs. Minor, his high school history teacher at Viera High School’s Academy for Digital Arts and Media, where he discovered an interest in making short films.

“She saw some of my videos and believed that I could become one
of the finalists,” says Sergio.

He applied. And after weeks of anxiety (and refreshing the Project VoiceScape page constantly), Sergio got the call that he had been selected for his new film about video games.

“I ran home from school that day and told my family all about it.”

Like any filmmaker, Sergio has had to work through the hurdles of production. “Music has become one of the most frustrating parts of the process,” he says. “The visual flairs and transitions aren’t as good as they could be.”

Juan Carlos Zaldivar (90 Miles)

Sergio’s mentor is
Juan Carlos Zaldívar
(90 Miles)

Luckily, he’s had the assistance of mentor Juan Carlos Zaldívar, the award-winning filmmaker behind 90 Miles, and Sergio says he was “very helpful.”

“I had never done a documentary before,” says Sergio. “I had no sense of direction and no idea how to produce one.” Zaldívar helped him understand “what exactly a documentary was.”

Sergio hopes that audiences will “come to view video games in a new light.”

And for Sergio? He wants to explore a career in music (“whether it’s creating sound effects or becoming a great producer”) or professional game development.

“To be able to work on the latest and greatest games would be an honor.”

Follow the progress of all the Project VoiceScape filmmakers and their award-winning documentary mentors, along with videos and more behind the scenes coverage, at the Project VoiceScape blog.

POV Staff
POV Staff
POV (a cinema term for "point of view") is television's longest-running showcase for independent non-fiction films. POV premieres 14-16 of the best, boldest and most innovative programs every year on PBS. Since 1988, POV has presented over 300 films to public television audiences across the country. POV films are known for their intimacy, their unforgettable storytelling and their timeliness, putting a human face on contemporary social issues.
  • shattered heart

    This documentary, Last Train Home, broke my heart and catapulted me into action. I will be joining the Wall Street protesters this coming week-end. And yes, I am 84 years of age..

  • Anonymous

    In this culture of ours I would think we have true empathy for about a minute and a half and then we forget about others.  

    We learn so much from this film though, and see so much of the countryside we would never see without the film.  We learn the peasant class of Pearl Buck books remains alive and well yet excepting it has moved into the factories thousands of miles from home.  And when we are just about ready to forget the plight of the Mexican illegal migrant suffering much the same problems in a different way, this film reminds us that our world remains completely lopsided yet.  

  • Primadonna

    What a heavy burden on the shoulders of such a small, unhappy man who has to support his family in such demeaning labor, so far from home, without any emotional support himself.  His face haunts me.  What place is there in such lives for fun, laughter and lightness of spirit.
    I think this film shows the other side of China that we don’t see or hear much about and certainly makes me look at “Made in China” in a different way.  Beautifully done and unforgettable but one feels such a sense of hopelessness in seeing such masses of people who seem to have little chance for a good life for themselves or for their children.  But, we could  be doing more for those within our borders who live lives of desperation and despair.

    • Anonymous

      This goes back to all the sweatshops we have bought from as if we don’t know the inexpensive clothing we get from various outlets in our own country aren’t made by people overseas who are being worked to death.  Today we see the plight of a Chinese family, tomorrow it will be Central America or India.  So that is as far as our empathy goes.  I am not of Chinese heritage but find it difficult to blame the country of China for employing migrant workers when we do the same thing in America.  

      I believe the beauty of this marvelous documentary is that we get to see one family from the inside.  However, this family has something many migrants in America do not have, the ability to educate their children to do better right there in  China if only the children continue in school.  That is the ticket out of the sweatshop for the descendants of this family.  We cannot say the same necessarily for a migrant worker in central Florida or the fields of California, all illegal from Mexico.  And, we in the U.S cannot afford to make our migrants legal either.  

      It is obvious that the parents in the film are well aware of the sacrifice they are making.  IMHO their sadness stems from the fact that their hopes were dashed by the daughter.  She totally failed to recognize anything her parents were going through.  Her life was about immediate gratification.  She acted with less thought than my upper middle class granddaughter who has everything, but who this week completed bunches of college applications in hopes of ensuring her future by being admitted to a 6 year pharmacy program at a good university.   My granddaughter is the great-great granddaughter of immigrants who sacrificed their lives, much as the  Zhang family has theirs.  However, the lessons of the past has not been lost even now for my granddaughter.  

      16 years ago when both Zhang parents went off to sacrifice themselves they knew what they were doing.  I am very sad concerning the daughter and her extreme selfishness.