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Interview With Filmmaker Mauricio Arrioja

Updated: Jun 2

Photographer: Denise Vasquez Filmmaker: Mauricio Arrioja

Featured Interview in PROMOTE Magazine issue 3 April 2024

Where are you from? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Mexico City (D.F.), where I spent my early years until the age of 8. At that point, my family and I relocated to Querétaro, a charming city just two hours away from Mexico City. Back in the 90s, Querétaro was a considerably smaller town compared to the bustling metropolis of Mexico City. Yet, it offered a distinctive sense of freedom and opportunity that left a lasting impression on me, providing a unique environment for creative exploration and personal growth.

Did your environment growing up have any influence on you creatively?

Absolutely! I was fortunate to grow up in a neighborhood that fostered a deep connection with nature. Located atop a hill, my childhood home overlooked vast expanses of empty lots and untouched land, remnants of the city's gradual expansion. This environment provided me with the freedom to explore and immerse myself in the wonders of the natural world.

Moreover, my mother, a skilled graphic designer and dedicated painter, played a pivotal role in shaping my creative inclinations. From a young age, I found myself drawn to the artistry of drawing and painting, inspired by her passion and expertise. It's no surprise that my artistic endeavors have been influenced by her guidance and encouragement, upbringing with a vast amount of creative inspiration.

In addition to painting, I also was passionate about drafting comic books during junior high school years. These early ventures into storytelling and visual narrative not only fueled my imagination but also instilled in me a profound appreciation for the power of artistic expression.

When did you first become interested in film?

My fascination with film began in the early 90s, ignited by the awe-inspiring works of Steven Spielberg. Back then, I witnessed the movie magic of E.T.'s intergalactic journey and the thrilling spectacle of Jurassic Park. These cinematic masterpieces planted a seed of wonder and possibility within me.

As Hollywood transitioned into a new era, marked by new stories like The Matrix and the epic romance of Titanic, my passion for film only intensified. Each new experience fueled my desire to delve deeper into the world of storytelling through motion pictures.

Where did you study in the states?

I went to Los Angeles City College (LACC) for my Associates Degree in Cinema & to Cal State Northridge (CSUN) for my Bachelor Degree in Film & Television arts.

What led you to travel overseas to study? Did you find traveling overseas to study abroad gives you a unique perspective?

High school offered a life-changing opportunity - a chance to study abroad in Denmark. Living in the small town of Ringsted, I wasn't just surrounded by new sights, but also by new families. As I rotated between three different host families, I immersed myself in Danish culture and language, even learning to speak Danish!

But the magic didn't stop there. Attending Sorø Akademi, the very school where the legendary Hans Christian Andersen once walked the halls, was truly inspiring. Stepping into the footsteps of such a literary giant fueled my own creative spark.

Living in Denmark wasn't just about exploring a new place; it was about gaining a fresh perspective. Experiencing a culture so different from my own broadened my horizons and instilled in me a deep appreciation for diversity.

Denmark will forever hold a special place in my heart. It was there, amidst cobbled streets and captivating stories, that I discovered the world's vastness and the profound impact of new experiences.

Who or what influenced or inspired you to want to make your own movies?

Buried deep in my parents' closet, I found an ancient Hi8 video camera! Once a proud vacation companion, it now sat forgotten. But this dusty discovery sparked a fire in my soul.

Before I knew it, I was tinkering and experimenting, ready to capture the world through its lens. I always craved the chance to tell stories, to weave magic with visuals and narratives. It was a chance to express myself in a brand new way, to create something nobody else had ever seen before, at least from my point of view.

So, I brought my brother into this ‘cinematic’ adventure. We turned a simple notebook into our screenplays, our imaginations running wild. Our first little movie was an ‘epic alien invasion’ film that conquered our entire city... Well, at least the neighborhood! We asked for help from our neighbors and family, transforming them into our very own cast and crew. That dusty old camera became the key to unlocking a whole new world of storytelling, and it all started with a little bit of curiosity and a whole lot of imagination.

What made you decide to start your own production company?

I always wanted to have my own company and produce my own films and shows. The idea of running my own business and being involved in not just the creative but the business side also excites me. One day I aspire to be a showrunner/producer that could be more selective with the projects I take on, and travel the world more, lol.

What are the challenges you face making your own films?

No matter how many films and media projects come into my hands, how much preparation ahead of time, there are always new challenges, someway or the other. Some sort of chaos comes into making movies, and it’s like a puzzle that needs to be solved with budget limitations and unexpected events. I guess I'm in love with challenges!

How many feature films & shorts have you produced to date?

About 25 short films, 4 TV Pilots, and 10 Feature Films. I also produce the annual Hola Mexico Film Festival since 2017, and have begun producing larger industry red carpet events.

Congratulations on being an Oscar Nominated Contender! How did that Nomination come about and how does it feel to receive that recognition?

Totally caught me off guard, but man, seeing our news in the Hollywood Reporter this year was so exciting! We poured our hearts and souls into that film, but honestly, we never imagined it would make it this big. I’m feeling super proud of what we've achieved with ALTERED PERCEPTIONS written by Wayne Dees and directed by Jorge Ameer. I'm crossing my fingers that this opens up even more opportunities for us to keep making movies and teaming up with awesome filmmakers.

What other nominations and awards have your films received?

>> For CUCK Feature Film:

2019Cleveland International Film FestivalNominated, Best American Independent Feature Film 2222019Oldenburg Film Festival

Won, Seymour Cassel AwardOutstanding Performance by an ActorZachary Ray ShermanNominated, German Independence Award - Audience Award Best Film

>> For GLAISTIG Short Film:

2022Austin International Art Festival

Won, Festival Award Best Short Film

2021Toronto Independent Festival of CIFT

Won, November Award Best International Short

2021Venice Shorts

Won, Venice Short Film Award Best Female DirectorBest Actress

2021Vienna International Film Awards (VIFA)

Won, Vienna International Film Award Best Actress

>>>For PROOF SHEET Feature Film:

2024Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema

Nominated, IIFC AwardBest Ensemble - FeatureJeff Gerrard (casting director), Patrick Baca (casting director) Night Owls Productions, (production company)Nominated, The Roger Taylor Award

Best Original Score - Feature FilmCali Wang (composer) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, IIFC Award

Best Director - FeatureRichard Kilroy (director) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, IIFC Award

Best FeatureAlejandro Delgado (producer) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, IIFC Award

Best Supporting Actor - FeatureJuan Javier Cardenas (actor) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, The Juan Ruiz Anchia Award

Best Cinematography - FeatureJonathan Pope (cinematographer) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, IIFC Award

Best Screenplay - FeatureRichard Kilroy (writer), Eduardo Santiago (writer) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, IIFC Award

Best Actor - FeatureLeo Llenas (actor) Night Owls Productions, (production company)

Nominated, IIFC AwardBest Supporting Actress - Feature

Catherine Lidstone (actress) Night Owls Productions, (production company) Nominated, IIFC Award

Best Actress - FeatureEileen Grubba (actress) Night Owls Productions, (production company)

Nominated, IIFC Award

Best Sound - FeatureKeith Clark (sound design), Ugo Derouard (sound design) Night Owls Productions, (production company)

2023North Hollywood Cinefest

Won, Best Actor-Best Actor in a Feature Film Leo Llenas

Won, Best Actor-Best Actor in a Feature FilmLeo Llenas Night Owls Productions, -Nominated, Best Picture -Nominated, Best Director

>> For ALTERED PERCEPTIONS Feature Film: 2023Cult Critic Movie Awards

Won, Critics' Choice Award Best Cult Classic Cinema

2023Culver City Film Festival

Won, Festival Prize Best Score Feature Film

2023International World Photography Awards

Won, Cinema & Photography AwardBest Director Feature Film (Fiction/Documentary)

Won, IWPA Award Best Sci-fi Film

2023Marina del Rey Film Festival

Won, Festival Award Best Director - Feature

2023New York Independent Cinema Awards

Won, New York Cinema Award Best science fiction film

2023Silicon Beach Film Festival

Won, Festival PrizeBest Original Screenplay - Feature Film

+ Being under the 2023 Oscars: 265 Feature Films in Contention for This Year’s Best Picture Award!!

Any new projects in the works that you are able to talk about?

I am producing a very interesting project based on my friend’s life. He wrote a Script about parenting rights, Trans parents. We are currently having a fundraising campaign online, please help us spread the word!


Asides from other feature films in the works, like collaborating with a very talented writer named Waide Riddle and Rogelio Camarillo. I am also venturing into Red Carpet Events, Award Shows and Film Festivals.

Where can people find you online?

They can find me on IMDB, LinkedIn, Socials and on Production Hub. I’ve revamped my website:

Media Services:

Event Services:

Anything else you want to add?

It is important to not give up on your passion and the creative, unencumbered inner child with big dreams - don’t let him/her die. This business has not been easy, it is a challenge not knowing what’s coming next and being an entrepreneur; at times I wanted to quit. However, what keeps me going is thinking back on how far I have come since I was a child in Mexico with big dreams and there is a bit of thrill in figuring out how to swim these waters of Hollywood.

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