30-year-old Julian Flores is a born and bred Pasadena native and promising up-and-coming filmmaker who created a powerful PSA titled “Put The Guns Down” about his experience with gun violence — a topic that resonates close to home for many and is a topic of concern nationwide.
“The video is very personal to me. I’ve had friends who have been killed by gun violence. I’ve had friends who have lost their freedom to gun violence. My brother was … a victim of gun violence,” said Flores.
Flores’ emotional piece titled “Put The Guns Down” is a moving visual journey that can feel much longer than its 45 seconds because of its powerful, graphic content. The viewer is instantly immersed in an up-close, and all too real scenario of panic and carnage that depicts the immediate aftermath of a drive-by shooting in a neighborhood.
The sensory overload of gunshots firing, pedestrians scrambling and a victim bleeding out, maybe to death, are sights and sounds that Flores said ring close to home.
“I’ve witnessed a lot of shootings. The ‘90s were especially rampant,” said Flores who grew up and still lives in the Northwest area of Pasadena. “But instead of letting that impact me negatively, I let it impact me positively.”
Flores said he has witnessed or suffered the grief of between fifteen and twenty shootings in his life, with the most recent being a four year old boy named Salvador Esparza III, 4, was shot and killed during a shooting at a home in the 300 block of Figueroa Drive in Altadena in early July. Esparza’s father is a close family friend of Flores’.
“This topic is something I’m very passionate about because I believe that most of these shootings get swept under the rug, and I saw first hand when baby Salvador was murdered… it didn’t really get the attention that it deserved,” said Flores.
Flores has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and was on the road to pursuing law school to appease his parents. He eventually decided to take a turn and pursue his passion for filmmaking and is close to obtaining his Master’s Degree in Film from Art Center College of Design.
“That’s why all of my pieces have some deeper message that is social, cultural or political in some nature,” said Flores.
His work has garnered him both international and domestic attention for his directorial, cinematography and writing pursuits including a 2015 UK MVA “Best Dance Music Video” Winner, Milano Film Festival Showcase 2015 award and was also awarded a SXSW 2016 Official Selection Award.
“Put The Guns Down” is a piece that Flores felt he needed to make in order to spotlight irreversible impact of a split second decision that changes the trajectory of someone’s life in an instant.
“Gun violence is something that’s always been around. It’s something we can’t avoid and it seems like a cycle that doesn’t stop,” explained Flores.
He hopes to bring awareness of the value of life that is lost to these senseless acts and stresses the importance of recognizing these events as equal problems that deserve attention.
“Somehow as a society we kind of bestow what’s more evil and what’s not evil. A lot of people believe that a cop killing a man is more evil than a gangster killing a child, but at the end of the day it’s a murder and its equal. For anyone to start caring about other people’s lives, we have to start caring about our own,” said Flores.
Flores said he hopes that his work can promote positive and healthy change within communities that are battling gun violence. He said providing children with positive upbringing and encouraging higher learning can ultimately, hopefully, reduce the gun violence on our streets.
“I hope to bring awareness to have the community invest in its youth. Statistically speaking, the reason why these crimes happen is because most of these perpetrators come from very weak homes and end up being raised not by their parents but by their culture. I want to change the culture to be more intellectually curious,” said Flores.
Flores is actively pursuing his career in the film industry and plants to continue directing commercial advertisements and eventually feature films.
To contact Julian Flores, click here https://www.facebook.com/dir.julianflores/