Nolan Gonzales, hailing from San Jose, CA, began filmmaking by picking up his dad’s camcorder and documenting his family vacations. Gonzales, known by his artist name, Allluvnoluv, has since taught himself technical filmmaking and editing skills and has created two short films along with other small projects. In January, I spoke with Nolan about his recent short film and creative process as a director.
Gonzales cites dance, specifically hip hop, as his first creative outlet, having been on competitive hip hop teams throughout his youth. When asked about the similarities between dance and filmmaking, he says “both take an immaculate amount of patience”. In both crafts, the artist says that you have to be patient and find what feels right. In terms of collaboration with others, Gonzales takes an approach he learned from dance. “You first have to know your vision inside and out. You have to be more confident in your own vision and your choices in the creative process.” Music and musicality is also an aspect Gonzales pulls from his dance background. When creating his recent short film, Gonzales produced the score in Garageband before picking up the camera.
His recent short film, The Mob Lynched Midas, stars a handler and a hitman who no longer wants to kill. Money makes the monster is the phrase that drove the creative process, according to the young director.The five minute short takes the audience through scenes full of thrilling suspense. The film’s eerie score complements the dark, sinister performances by the featured young actors.
In 2020, COVID-19 brought Gonzales and many other college students back home. After finishing his his spring semester online, Gonzales was able to begin working on a project starring his childhood friends, Joey Biala and Wyatt Hesly. The trio worked together in high school to create skits for school performances, so Nolan had a lot of trust in their capabilities as actors. Gonzales instructed his actors to focus on their own characters — “know their behaviors, their intentions”. He had his actors watch specific films, wanting them to pull from the fast-paced dialogue in The Social Network and Jake Gyllenhaal’s villainous performance in Nightcrawler. Their commitment to their characters and the story pulled Gonzales’s short film together, just as he envisioned.
“The story is what shines the most,” is what Gonzales said when asked about his creative process. “The characters, the plot will all fall into place… the story and how it’s driven is what will make it [the film] more lively”. Gonzales has stated that he’s tried to steer away from clear-cut genres and themes, as he has been trying to pull from his past and make his work more personal. In terms of his influence, Gonzales cites psychological thrillers as the type of style he likes to emulate. He lists Hereditary and Midsommar as some works he’s influenced by. He describes these films as “very unconventional and focused on the story… the aesthetic[of the film] will just fall into place once you’ve created a strong story”.
Gonzales’s recent short film was released through Day One Entertainment, a small multimedia production company based in San Francisco. The agency was founded by University of San Francisco student David Ly Vu, who wanted to form a team with other young, creative individuals Vu and Gonzales collaborated on a short film, Take Care, for the university’s campus film festival, and it was awarded the Grand Jury award that year. Day One also produces music videos, photography, and original apparel. While the company is based in San Francisco, its goal is to build a community of artists across the globe.
A challenge Gonzales mentioned is his fixation on what other people think about his work. While this is an ongoing struggle Gonzales is trying to overcome, he encourages his viewers to relate to the film in their own way. “I really want people to form their own opinions and meanings from the films I create. I try not to imply a meaning. I try to let others freely create their own meaning”.
Often, artists wrestle with the need to be original or unique. When asked about the innovation of his work, Gonzales provided a different take on what it means to him. He states: “the concept of originality is kind of overrated. It’s more so picking up on what you see and what you favor the most and kind of making a collage out of that”.
While Gonzales’s short films have been fictional, he mentioned being more realistic in his future works. “I’ve thought about making short films more personal and autobiographical, but it’s just a lot of self-searching. A lot of figuring out my past and knowing myself, and that itself is a whole ‘nother process”. An avenue Gonzales is considering to make his work more personal is including elements of his Filipino-American identity. “Filipino-American history is buried deep into American history. It’s sorta just a ‘fun fact’ in American textbooks rather than the main story that needs to be told. I really want some of that to be reflected in my work”. No matter the approach, Gonzales plans to make his work more personal and create something that “people can connect with and see a part of themselves in”.