International filmmaker and writer discusses movie making with USCA students

A very special guest visited the University of South Carolina Aiken to give students advice about the entertainment industry. Alex Cisneros traveled all the way from South America to talk to students about his artistic journey during the International Film Festival that the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures held last month.

“He brings a spirited and international experience about filmmaking,” said Ángel M. Rañales, Assistant Professor of Spanish.

Cisneros says he was always a curious child and never thought that he could make a living creating art. “I loved photography and everything that has to do with art like paintings,” he said. “However, I knew I had to experience something around entertainment. That’s when I started studying photography.”

When faced with uncertainty, he remained undeterred, delving deeper into the art of filmmaking. His passion for learning and exploring didn't falter, even when his direction was unclear.

During his childhood, a spark for filmmaking was kindled by the cinematic brilliance of Jaws, a masterpiece created by the legendary Steven Spielberg. “I was traumatized when I first saw it as a kid,” Cisneros said. “I just didn’t know what film meant or what it took to create one. When I saw the movie, it looked real.” Despite Cisneros’s experience after watching Jaws, that still didn’t stop his fascination for making his own creations.

He charted further to learn about his craft, earning his associate degree in TV Programming at Miami Day College. Later, Cisneros went on to get his bachelor’s in photography from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito in Ecuador.

During the international film festival at USCA, students were able to watch A Estas Alturas De La Vida (Highs and Lows), El Facilitador (The Facilitator), and Alba which are all featured in Spanish. Cisneros directed the film Highs and Lows while he portrayed characters in The Facilitator and Alba.

He says his films mostly portray humor and problems that everyday people experience. Cisneros appreciation for black and white cinema was ignited after immersing himself in the captivating world of Alfred Hitchcock's films like The Birds. “I was asked once ‘Why black and white?’ and the reason of course is because Hitchcock inspired me, and I love black and white. Just like A Estas Alturas De La Vida, it’s in black and white.”

Cisneros even describes the film process as painful and tough but that never overshadows the product he puts out. “With my first film I wrote, directed, and acted in it and I was most worried about the process, and I got burned out,” he said. “It’s stressful but that’s the learning experience. But getting to show my films 10 years later in Aiken, just warms my heart.”

Cisneros emphasized that another beauty of making films is that you can bend rules, change worlds, and make your imagination run wild.

For more information, contact Angela Saxon -