Where are they now? Catching up with Creativity Scholar Alvaro Ceballos from New York

AlvaroWho: Alvaro Ceballos

From: New York, USA

How you were involved with AYV: Student intern at Peapod Adobe Youth Voices in New York City in 2012

Issue you care about:  Social and racial equality

As an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, Alvaro Ceballos was a student of language, of necessity, and eager to learn new things. “At AYV I learned a new language, the language of a film director. I was introduced to a completely new environment, new equipment, software, cameras,” he says, “I learned how to write, storyboard, produce, and edit my own videos. I also learned to collaborate, and that filmmaking requires other people.”  He found his passion and his home in film – and was rewarded with a Creativity Scholarship to study at Pratt Institute in New York.  View Alvaro’s media at his YouTube channel, such as this documentary or his most recent film about an immigrant on her own in New York.

“Hard work pays off in the end. I moved to New York in 2009 without knowing how to speak English.  I graduated from High School with honors in 2013.  I won the Creativity Scholarship and now I’m almost in my junior year of college.  All the effort you put into your work is very rewarding in the long term.”

– Alvaro Ceballos, Creativity Scholar and second-year student at Pratt Institute in New York

What was your first media making experience?

At the Bronx Museum of the Arts I was one of the members of the teen council. The first topic we picked to discuss in the group was “New York.” The idea that popped into my head was to make a video asking my friends in high school, “Why did you move to New York?”  After I made my first video – “Why NY?” – I decided I wanted to make more, to tell stories through moving images that could inspire others.  They can see a little bit of me in each of my works.

Why are you interested in making media?

I’m interested in making media because I want to communicate my concerns to others. As an immigrant living in New York, I’ve faced a lot of challenges. I try to see the positive side of every hard moment, and express myself through storytelling and video. For me filmmaking is a very powerful tool for storytelling and self-expression.

How is media making a part of your life now?

I’m a full-time student at Pratt Institute majoring in film/video production. In every film production class I always try to explore different film techniques and elements.

What advice do you have for young people like yourself?

I always recommend doing as many internships as you can. You never know who you are going to end up meeting and working for.  For me personally, internships changed my life.

What’s the last movie, book, or website that inspired you?

A film I saw at the Sundance film Festival, “Umrika,” directed by Prashant Nair. Through beautiful visual images this film told the story of an Indian boy who decided to follow his brother’s steps to America to bring him back home. I felt very connected with the main character, Rama.  The way he visualized New York in the film was very similar to the way I visualized New York when I was living in the Dominican Republic.

What cool new app/device/tool are you using?

I share a lot of my work, mostly on Facebook, Youtube, Vimeo, and Instagram. I shoot my videos with a Canon 5D mark iii, and edit in Adobe Premiere.

What issue or cause do you care about and why?

I care about social and racial equality. I strongly believe in the idea of equal distribution of power, economic resources, and opportunities among everyone for a better and productive society.  Ever since I moved to New York, I’ve joined different youth organizations that strive to make changes in people’s life.  While a student in Urban Arts Partnership, I was part of the leadership group “More than a Quota,” urging youth to become involved in the movement against the discriminatory policing policy, stop-and-frisk.

What are your professional or life goals?

I want to be a film director/ cinematographer, and write and direct my own projects. I’m taking cinematography, fiction, and creative writing class.

“Be true to your work and believe in your instincts, and your work and instincts will be true to you. There are people out there who want to see what you do.”