Jazmin Aguilar originally planned her short film “Kid Ugly” as a pilot, but when an opportunity to make a short film presented itself, she adapted. The film, a Western about a secretive notorious outlaw who meets their biggest fan — and aspiring sidekick — was shown as part of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles recent In Focus: Female Cinema festival.
“It was something honestly I just wrote for fun,” Aguilar tells NFMLA’s Danny DeLillo in an interview you can watch below.
“I like spaghetti Westerns, I like cartoons, it was inspired by some manga I read. I was like, can we just put this all together with Latinos and African-Americans as the leads? Because they are the original cowboys. And I just felt like we just deserved fun stories.”
Aguilar cut down the pilot in order to make a 12-minute short film for McDonald’s Spotlight Dorado, which is aimed at “empowering and amplifying Latino voices across different industries, starting off with film.”
When she learned McDonald’s would fund the film, “I ended up just condensing this big project into something small,” she explains. Spotlight Dorado ended up granting her $75,000 to make her short as a proof of concept for a “Kid Ugly” TV series.
Aguilar is a Mexican-American director-writer from Los Angeles whose short film “The Letter” played at numerous Academy Award and BAFTA qualifying festivals. HBO licensed it in 2020. She directed her first theater play “The Fruit Flies” at the NBC Short + Sweet Hollywood competition.
In addition, she won Best Director at the 2019 Young Entertainer Awards at Warner Brothers, is an alumnus of the HBO Tomorrow’s Filmmakers Today Fellowship. She is currently working on her debut feature film. You can follow her on Instagram at @thisjazzcat.
“Kid Ugly” was part of NFMLA’s March film festival celebrating up-and-coming female talent in front of and behind the camera. The program included two shorts programs, along with award-winning filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone’s debut feature.
The day began with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts I, a collection of films that explore motherhood, fertility, birth, and reproductive choice from a wide range of perspectives. The programming continued with the Los Angeles premiere of “Mother of Color,” the first feature from award-winning writer-director Dawn Jones Redstone. The night concluded with InFocus: Female Cinema Shorts II, an eclectic mix of short form work from emerging talent, whose stories explored body image, intimate relationships, work and its many struggles.
NFMLA showcases films by filmmakers of all backgrounds throughout the year in addition to its special InFocus programming, which celebrates diversity, inclusion, and region. All filmmakers are welcome and encouraged to submit their projects which will be considered for all upcoming NFMLA Festivals, regardless of the InFocus programming.
Main image: Kid Ugly.