• Elsie Hernandez

Exclusive Interview with Director/ Actor Wigner Duarte

This upcoming artist Wigner Duarte hit the red carpet at the "Dominican Film Festival" in New York City this past July for the premiere of his major movie "Buscando al Zorro". SkysOcean had the opportunity to an exclusive interview. When you meet Wigner you feel like you’ve known him forever. With his upbeat personality and gentlemanlike ways you automatically want to be his friend, but there’s more to Wigner than just a friendly smile. Wigner is also passion driven about his craft and this is where he pulls his audience into his onscreen performances and films directed and created by him. This interview has been an inspiration to SkysOcean and I’m sure you will agree that Wigner has a bright future ahead of his career. Directors like him belong in Hollywood.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

Where did you grow up?

I was born in San Francisco de Macorís in the Dominican Republic and grew up there until the age of eleven, then moved to New York and was raised in Morris Heights in the Bronx.

What is your acting and directing background?

Well, I have a Masters in Fine Arts Film and Video with the concentration in Directing from City College of New York and a minor in Theater/ Performing Arts, where I got my training from. After I graduated I did several auditions and performed in several short films.

Acting and directing can go hand and hand, tell me what makes you passionate of either one.

Yes they do. I was born with the passion, because in that part of my life, where I grew up we didn’t have electricity, but we had one TV. We had a solar panel, but we were only allowed to use the electricity for like an hour a day, because if we used it during the day then we would have no power during the night. So, we used to watch it at seven o’clock, when they used to give movies and so that was our favorite part of the day. When we got to sit down every night and watch a movie and that’s how I fell in love with movies. I was like, ahh man, I wish I can make movies like that. The next day you would see us cutting sticks, making believe they were swords, play fighting. Those were good times, but that’s how I fell in love with cinemas and films.

SkysOcean: That was a nice experience.

Yeah, it was a really beautiful experience.

The reason I got into film was because I wasn’t getting the roles that I wanted. So as an actor, I felt like, since I wasn’t getting the roles that I wanted then I had to make them for myself and that’s the reason I started creating films.

Once I got into film school and started learning how to make films, I wrote parts for myself and also directed them. It’s hard to act and also direct on your performance, because you constantly have to flip roles on the set, but it gives you experience on how to talk to actors. You will ask, what do I expect from myself, from this performance, so it trains you how to talk to other actors.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

Who are your biggest influences and your favorites?

Well, as an actor I really, really love the earlier films of Brad Pitt. Those films like “Legends of the Fall” , it’s a really great film and it’s like about two hours long. I love Epic films, where the camera moves slowly, you get the full experience of the lives of the character for like a really long time. Tom Cruise, his earlier work as well. Tom Hanks is really good. I really love Marlon Brandon as well, great performer and excellent actor. Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, those are few great actors I really love. As for directors, you got to love Steven Spielberg. Also Terrence Malick and Paul Thomas.

SkysOcean: Why do you like Steven Spielberg?

Well he invented the blockbuster Cinema. "Jaws" was really a great film. He figured out how to create suspense with what he had. Meaning like in "Jaws" he figured out, that he couldn’t show the shark for more than three seconds in one shot, because after three seconds it would look fake. I think he’s a genius. I mean he’s done so many movies, like the "Indiana Jones" franchise.

I know you just put out a film called "Buscando al Zorro" ("Looking for Zorro")

What made you name it that?

Ok, so, Zorro is a name of an animal that my father and I had to search for when I was living in San Francisco de Macorísi as a child and so I turned that experience into a film. So it was something that I wanted to put into a film and like just grab that moment forever, I think. So because it was something that I always liked in that particular time of my life and that I am really attached to. So, I had to make a movie about it. My father and I went to look for this animal named Zorro.

What kind of animal is that?

It's a horse.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

What are some things people are saying about this exciting film so far?

Well, I think people are really touched by my film. The first time I showed it was at the "Dominican Film Festival" this past July and people were crying during the showing of the film. Even like in the middle of the film people were crying and really affected. I was like why are people so affected. I mean, I had two ladies sitting in front of me and it was the first time I watched the film with an audience. These two ladies were like from Peru or Ecuador and they were like really crying and then afterwards they told me that the movie reminded them of their country and of them growing up.

I was like wow, this is really touching. The people from Dominican Republic were also able to connect to this film.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

When you completed your movie ", how did you feel, what message did you want your audience to understand from this move?

Well, that movie was about the relationship of a father and a son and just the father not knowing how to show love to his son. Then in the end, kind of understanding that his son is everything. Just like that relationship between a father and a son, you know, I think that's something that everybody can relate to.

How would you describe your own style? What makes you unique?

My own style, I like truth in film. I think my camera movements are really slow movements. Like, I want you to connect to the character. I like the mundane, like the everyday stuff. I think that makes you connect more to the character of the film.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

If given the opportunity who would you like to collaborate with?

Brad Pitt in acting and Steven Spielberg in directing.

What are the main inspirations for the scripts that you write?

Well, I write about what I know, So I really write about personal experiences. I get inspired by personal experience and then I go and write whatever drama action or comedy, but it always has to come from something that I can connect to. Also from watching other films is really how you get inspired.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

Do you have any other talents that you also love?

I love to swim, and I actually grew up swimming in all the rivers in my hometown. I love swimming. I also grew up playing baseball. I can dance Meringue and Bachata and I can make people laugh, I can not sing at all, so don’t ever expect me to sing.

What would be your dream production and where would you love for it to blow up at?

Here in the USA, I mean so far I’ve been more focused on the Latino market, like especially DR and making films over there. I've also made films here, but not as much as I would like to. So, I would love to direct a feature film here or act in one, because if you can make it here you can make it anywhere and I also live here.

What is life to you?

Life is striving, pursuing what you love and not giving up. I think in life you always need, you always need to want something, because if you don't want something I don't think you can ever be better.

Courtesy of Wigner Duarte

Do you have any new projects that we should be looking out for?

I just recently finished a short film called "Cuando Marta Dijo Adios” (“When Martha said Goodbye"). Also another one a few weeks ago, in which we are in post production called "El Testigo" ("The Witness") and then I just got a new script for a feature film where I will play the lead character and then I am almost done finishing my next feature film as well.

I am also working on a documentary with Director Carlos Freire about homelessness in New York City.

We loved this interview and look forward to watching Wigner's future work. Thanks Wigner!

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Jump to: Producer | Camera and Electrical Department | Director | Writer | Actor | Second Unit Director or Assistant Director | Cinematographer | Editor | Art department | Sound department

Hide Producer (5 credits)

Buscando Al Zorro (executive producer) / (producer) (post-production)

15 Feet (Short) (co-producer)

Olivia (TV Series) (co-producer)

Life on Wheels (Short) (producer)

The Man in the Black Suit (Short) (executive producer) / (producer)

Show Camera and Electrical Department (6 credits)

Show Director (4 credits)

Show Writer (4 credits)

Show Actor (3 credits)

Show Second Unit Director or Assistant Director (3 credits)

Show Cinematographer (2 credits)

Show Editor (2 credits)

Show Art department (1 credit)

Show Sound department (1 credit)

Directors Mentioned (also have directed)

Steven Spielberg: Academy Award-winning director, screenwriter and producer Steven Spielberg's films include 'Jaws,' 'E.T.,' 'The Color Purple' and 'Schindler's List,' among many others.

Terrence Malick: A critically acclaimed American film director who films include: Badlands, Days of Heaven and The Tree of Life.

Paul Thomas

American film director, producer and screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson is best known for writing and directing box office hits such as 'Boogie Nights.

Actors Mentioned

Denzel Washington: Former star of the hit TV drama 'St. Elsewhere,' actor/director Denzel Washington has earned popular and critical acclaim for his roles in an array of feature films, including 'Glory,' 'Malcolm X,' 'Training Day,' 'American Gangster' and 'Flight.'

Brad Pitt: Actor and producer Brad Pitt is an Academy Award and Golden Globe winner known for such films as 'Legends of the Fall,' 'Fight Club,' 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, 'Moneyball' and '12 Years a Slave.'

Tom Hanks

Former sitcom actor Tom Hanks is the much-beloved star of such Hollywood hits as 'Splash,' 'Big,' 'Forrest Gump,' 'Apollo 13,' 'Toy Story' and many more.

Al Pacino

Oscar-winning actor Al Pacino has kept moviegoers riveted since the 1970s, with roles in films like 'The Godfather,' 'Dog Day Afternoon,' 'Serpico,' 'Dick Tracy' and 'Scent of a Woman.'

Marlon Brando

Legendary screen presence Marlon Brando performed for more than 50 years and is famous for such films as A Streetcar Named Desire and The Godfather.

Tom Cruise

A-list actor and Scientologist Tom Cruise is the star of several box-office hits, including Risky Business, A Few Good Men, The Firm and Jerry Maguire.

San Francisco de Macorís, in the Dominican Republic is the capital city of the province of Duarte, and one of the country’s most economically and politically important cities.