Sergio Navaretta
Sergio Navarretta is a Canadian film director. He draws inspiration from Italian neorealism and considers his work an exploration of the human condition. He is also an internationally recognized award-winning director who is fiercely passionate about bringing meaningful content to the screen. Navarretta is best known for The Cuban, and his first feature film Looking for Angelina is based on the true-life story of Angelina Napolitano. Currently, Navarretta is back in the director’s chair with his passion project, THE CUBAN, starring: Oscar winner Louis Gossett Jr. (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN); Oscar nominee Shohreh Aghdashloo (THE HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG); Ana Golja (Degrassi: Next Class); Lauren Holly (DUMB AND DUMBER) and Giacomo Gianniotti (Grey’s Anatomy). THE CUBAN tells the story of a na├»ve pre-med student named Mina (Golja) who develops an unlikely friendship with Luis, an elderly Cuban musician with dementia (Gossett Jr.)

Listen to the whole story as Sergio Navarretta tackles his one-of-a-kind journey to his success. In this episode, we will shed light on:

– Who or what serves as Sergio’s inspiration on his journey to where he is now?

– How did Sergio feel having anxiety and its effects on his life?

– How did he overcome anxiety in his life?

– Sergio’s pivoting moment that drove him to create one of the most sought-after films, Looking for Angelina?

– What would be Sergio’s biggest advice should he get the chance to meet himself?

– His plans for the next six to 12 months?

Get inspired by listening to the whole conversation.

– Apple iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/underdog/id1534385651

– Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/6FbSDu0aNtuxAEiderUAfB

– Website: https://theunderdogshow.com/

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Catch up with Sergio’s on her social links here:

– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sergionavarretta/

– LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sergio-navarretta-director/

– Website: https://www.sergionavarrettadirector.com/

– Email: sergionavarretta@gmail.com

The Underdog Podcast host is none other than Pamela Bardhi. She’s rocking the Real Estate Realm and has been dedicating her life as a Life Coach. She is also Forbes Real Estate Council. To know more about this amazing woman, check out the following:

– Website: https://pamelabardhi.com

– Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pamela_bardhi

– TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@pamela_bardhi

Click To Read The Transcript

Sergio Navaretta Award Winning Director Shares His Story to Success

Kevin Harrington
Hi, I’m Kevin Harrington, an original shark from the hit television show Shark Tank and you’re listening to the underdog podcast

Pamela Bardhi
Hello, everyone, and welcome to another episode of underdog today I have an incredible, amazing Rockstar guest of mine here. Sergio, how are you my friend?

Sergio Navaretta
I’m wonderful. Thanks for having me on Pamela is such an honour and a privilege as always. Whenever I’m surrounded by greatness, it only brings my game up. So I really appreciate being here.

Pamela Bardhi
You are amazing. And so humbles are Joe, seriously, you’re incredible. I mean, the work that you’ve done, then just I can’t wait to get into all of that. I have to start at the baseline question, which is one of my favourites. Which is what inspired you on your journey to where you are today, my friend,

Sergio Navaretta
I think I was led there, I think I was guided, and I had the good fortune of starting a life in the arts from the age of five. So with the encouragement of my mother, who I think admitted to me recently that she wanted to live out her childhood dreams of being in music through me. Because she didn’t have the courage, she was terribly shy and had some not so great experiences in the church were kind of her musical life kind of evolved. And as a result, I was pushed on stage from a very, very early age. And that’s where I discovered debilitating anxiety, fear, panic, but also elation.

Like all those things all wrapped up in this in the magic of the arts, you know, it started really much in music. Then it evolved into the theatre. Which became a refuge for me and a place to kind of hide and reconnect with myself. It felt familiar if that makes sense. And I just remember sitting alone in my room in the dark listening to albums to records. I had this little cool vinyl record player, and I would just play them over and over again. And it was magical. It was transformative. So I would disappear into my imagination. That really saved me in many ways.

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that. Sergio, thank you for sharing that was really interesting. So you were pushed in at the age of five. So tell me like the first experience that you remember in the arts.

Sergio Navaretta
Oh, go back in the Wayback Machine. And remember that the first time was I was we were in our family room. This I hear a knock at the door. And this guy shows up with this big-ass accordion. I was like, What the hell is that, and he puts it in my lap. He says try this and I start playing and amazing sounds came out of it. That was like my first exposure to it until I realized that I love girls from a very early age and the accordion wasn’t super cool. So I quickly transitioned out of that into vocal training. That took me on my musical journey.

Pamela Bardhi
That’s incredible. So as a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? A singer?

Sergio Navaretta
I didn’t know quite I mean, I remember having magic shows in my backyard and charging money for it. And I remember being obsessed with space. Like, I remember being around the pool table, I don’t even remember where we were. And I just remember saying I want to be an astronomer and I was interested in space. I was definitely interested in movies. But that was like that may as well have been Mars, there was no link or connection to that world. So yeah. Then when I first experienced debilitating anxiety, I was in the backseat of the car. We were going to a recital where I had won first place at the Royal Conservatory of Music, which I should have been excited about. But I was terrified.

When I finally got to the performance, I lost my voice. I was so scared that I couldn’t speak and I couldn’t sing. And I got on stage and my vocal coach kind of talked me through that. And I start to performance and I just remember how I felt just being lost in the music. Then afterwards, the applause, the gratifying kind of like response that I got from the audience. I got addicted to that feeling of like, wow, I could change people’s state that easily or that quickly. So I pushed through the uncomfort and once I got to the other side that’s where the all the magic was.

And the second time I remember that happening was I had the lead role in the play any and it was the same kind of thing. It’s like how am I gonna memorise 40 pages of monologues and same kind of thing is, you know, backstage, just freaking out. As soon as I step on the stage, I became someone else. So I think that was a way of overcoming things that I was dealing with. And it was also a very empowering, so I knew I wanted to be in entertainment in some form. It’s such a privilege to be able to do what you love.

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that. And I mean, what’s really interesting, so we have a bit of parallels, if you will, which is so funny.

Sergio Navaretta
So besides the hair, I had that exams exact same hair. So maybe the hair

Pamela Bardhi
Its a European thing my friend, you know, Italy is right across from Albanians cousins some way somehow. What’s really interesting is so I was in I was like entertaining when I was young too. So I would literally like sing and dance at family parties, like my girls, and I like my best friends. We would like do choreography and dancing and singing and like all these things. And I remember the same gratifying experience of like the crowd just like go nuts and like having fun with that. Then just like that energy was like, fed you well beyond that stage. Like, right, well beyond like that performance. And like, you just remember that and like changing how those people felt at that moment of time was like, the coolest thing in the whole wide world.

So I resonated a lot with that when you mentioned that. And it’s really interesting, because I can’t sing for the life of me, I was not professionally trained. Like there was the you don’t even want to hear it. Like I won’t even I won’t even we won’t even go there. But like, it’s so cool to hear your story with that and how you got serious anxiety from that as well. Because even to this day, even though I’m like literally a public speaker. Now I still have I fill it all in the chest, like right beforehand.

He’s just like, you’re nervous. And people just think you’re like this amazing Pro. And it’s like, oh, no, I get I get anxious to you know what I mean? Like, even the greatest still fight through that every day. So I love that you fought through that even at a young age is really cool and inspiring.

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, it’s, I think it was Al Pacino, that said, if it doesn’t scare you, it’s not worth doing. I’ve heard that a few different times throughout my life in different places. But that’s kind of how I pick projects to write. Like, if it doesn’t challenge me, or if I’m not terrified, then it’s just like, if it’s too easy, then it’s just not worth doing.

Pamela Bardhi
Yeah, 100%, you’ve had quite a trajectory, because like, what you’ve done and accomplished so far is like unbelievable. And I know if your future is even brighter like you’re just going to continue to elevate. So walk me through your early years, like in your career, like post-high schools, like what was high school like? And then after that, like how did you transition into the professional world?

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, thanks for the question. Because when I reflect back, it’s like I typically compartmentalize and keep the past in the past. But once in a while, it’s nice to look back and really celebrate those wins as well. It’s interesting, we can almost not rewrite history, but we are the architects of our life. So it’s interesting when you look at a family with various siblings. How we remember the past so differently. So I try to remember the past fondly and look at the highlight reel with a positive spin. But yeah, in high school, I joined a rock band or a cover band. And we started performing and when I was kind of like the beginning, and the end was we did a performance in front of 10,000 people. And I still have like one snapshot of that moment.

And when it’s one of those moments that I’ll never forget. It’s such a high to be able to affect people in that way through an exchange. So again, it was one of those moments where I was just lost in space lost in my feelings and my emotions. It was really amazing. From there, we started a record label, and we start producing other artists. So I spent a lot of time in dark rooms and studios. I found that really gratifying. I think when the turning point was when we were at a record label. They were making decisions based on the physiology and physical attributes of various artists. And didn’t care what they sounded like, I was like, I’m done, I’m out.

That was the turning point. I never looked back. So that kind of like when I gave up music. And around the same time, I had a number of small businesses. One of them was promoting Canadian fashion designers and selling vintage clothing and all hustling to try to get closer to my dream. Which was at that time making movies. And the way that happened was that I met a director who had like, a sprinkler company, and he’s like, I made a movie. Like, now it’s in at that time video stores and it was out there. I’m like, I thought only Hollywood made movies. So that a light bulb went off and like well, if he can do it, then I can do it. So he took me under his wing and seduced me.

And then like, I don’t know, two, three years later, we didn’t make a dime, every like, sort of it was like a mirage. It’s like, oh, so and so the star is interested. I get all excited and nothing materialized. Finally, I’m like, I’m just gonna make my own film. So I put an ad in the paper and I said, I have this vision, this dream to make a movie. We don’t have a budget, but if you’re interested, email me at this email address or whatever. And 100 people responded. So we had a meeting and I think, in the end, we had about 50 that showed up to volunteer their time.

We were given 35 millimetre film and cameras and there was a cafe chain and the owner is incredible Greek entrepreneur and he said I believe in you. Here’s a check for $10,000 Go make your movie. And that was kind of how it started. That movie ended up premiering at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. And once that happens, it kind of like spoiled me it kind of hooked me in and I’m like, I can’t do anything else. So it’s kind of like a blessing and a curse. Because it’s not like, I can just take up carpentry. Well, I guess I could, but you know, it’s has become a lifelong passion. Since then.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that Sergio. I mean, there’s so many things about your story that I really adore. The fact that your mom kind of spoke it into you and to be in the arts at such a young age as an almost an extension of herself. Which I find really beautiful that you stepped into it at such a young age. And like found yourself when you’re talking about like getting lost in the music. And like basically, like that was your that was like your saviour like that’s like me too. It’s like my meditation space. If you consider like driving around in your car with the music blasting. That is my definition of meditation in a nutshell.

You get so lost, and all you hear is the vibrations of the music in your mind is nowhere else but in that energy sphere. And like, it’s just there’s nothing like it. It’s the most beautiful thing ever. So like as you’re speaking I can like feel it right here. I’m like, Oh my God. Like I can only imagine how you felt when that when that came alive. Like I can only imagine what you felt like when you got those 100 emails back. Because you’re like, Okay, well, here’s a shot in the dark. Let me just put this out in the paper. And people responded, right? But the thing that I really love about that is like, it takes so much courage to do that.

Most people wouldn’t even bother. They stopped before they start like fear get in the way. Whereas you didn’t you were like, let me just put it out there. What’s the worst that can happen? Like, it would be awesome to hear your thought process behind doing that. And like just like how you went about it? Because I think that’s so awesome. Because that’s an act of courage within itself. To just make yourself vulnerable and be like, Hey, listen, like we’re not funded. But here’s my vision. And here’s what it is if you put it in a paper-like I just think that’s so remarkable.

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, it’s when I look back, I didn’t know what I was doing was unique. I was kind of forced into that kind of mindset. Because when I was in university, my dad pushed me to go to law school. And when I was there, I had a horrible time, just kind of like, inner conflict, like, what am I doing here. I’m living a lie, I don’t want to be here. And around the same time, I had debilitating anxiety, which I’ve only started talking about recently. Like it was one of those dark secrets that I overcame. To the point where I couldn’t leave my house. There was a point where I was just so anxious, having panic attacks on a regular basis.

In those days, it wasn’t cool. It wasn’t like a badge of honor where you could say, well, I have this thing that’s going on. And I had to hide it from my friends from family, and I figured it out. So the way I figured it out is by pushing through that fear. So when I would feel the fear, I would do it anyway, and just do a little more and do a little more. And it wasn’t only me, I had some brilliant people that I met along the way that helped me through that. I never looked back, once I broke through, I never had a panic attack. Since I do feel nervous at times like everyone else, and that’s healthy.

But that wiring of Oh my God, I feel fear, but I’m going to do it anyway, is why I forged on with the film. And I remember doing an interview around the same time and someone said, you know, why did you do this? And I said it’s what you don’t know that gets you through? Right? Like, I had no idea what the challenges would have been? Or how to make a movie or what you know, like, nothing. Also, I have to say there were a lot of doors we knocked on, got slammed shut. It wasn’t like that investor was the first person I ever met. There were like 100 others that said, No, and I really connected to him. I wasn’t trained in sales pitches, or, you know what I mean?

Like closing and all that. I just told him my story and he aligned with it. And that was it. That strategy I’ve used ever since there’s days when I don’t want to get out of bed. Am I crazy, I chose the most challenging business on the planet. And in my business, you rely on 200 people. At the end of the day come together, and we’re all rowing in the same direction. It’s like, the odds are often stacked against you, but you can’t think that way. You know, you just have to be committed to the vision and keep going. That’s essentially what it is.

Pamela Bardhi
I appreciate you letting us know that surgery like you know because that’s one thing that the mental health thing is a big one. Like nobody talks about I mean, thank God that more people are opening up. Because more and more people are healing and it’s beautiful. So I appreciate you sharing that but like you know, I’ve dealt with my own fair share. You know, family members that I love dearly that I watch in that condition. And you always try to help and try to figure out like, what can I do to help them.

And then you when you’re going through it yourself at what is the root cause of what’s happening here. And I’m sure that there’s people listening that that have dealt with something similar. What advice would you give in that moment when you’re trying to break free. Like you said, like you had to push yourself to get to that next level. So what would be your advice to someone who’s listening that

Sergio Navaretta
I’m careful with giving advice, because what works for me might not work for the next person. But I can only share my experience, I learned that one, there was nothing wrong with me. I was just a sensitive, intuitive person and to embrace that. So what I thought was a curse growing up, because I was bullied and went through all kinds of challenges. Because of being that sensitive person that ended up being my superpower. As a film director, as an artist, that’s like, what you need is to be intuitive and sensitive and compassionate. So those qualities actually helped. So that was the first thing is just self love and acknowledgement of those traits.

And the second thing was not being defined by it. So I was very careful about using labels, I would never use a label. Like I’m a depressed person, or I suffer from anxiety. Or I am this or I am that I don’t use those labels I never did. So that’s very important. You’re not a depressed person, you do depression, you’re experiencing feelings that may seem might put you in that category. But you have to acknowledge that you’re going to be on the other side of that at some point. And you have to push through and get help.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If I were to do it over again, I would have told more people, you know, everything happens for a reason. I think if I would have told more people, they would have given me extra love and compassion and attention. And I might have gotten addicted to being in that state. So I don’t know, looking back, I think it just happened the way it was supposed to.

Pamela Bardhi
I love it. Thank you so much for sharing, because you know, just different insights might help different people with different perspectives. So I absolutely love what you just shared. It’s incredible, just your trajectory in your journey. And what I also really love about your story is that Greek guy who became your investor, who was like your cheerleader. I always find some of the most remarkable people in this life. And then when they share their stories, there’s always that one or two. Like, at least one cheerleader in their life pushed them that said, I believe in you keep going. That literally creates the most pivoting moment of life. Right? Because had you not done that. Do you think you’d still be in the film?

Sergio Navaretta
Probably not. It takes an army, it really does. And it’s not just the investor, it was the guy who gave us the equipment. He said, pull up a truck and take whatever you want. So we had cameras, lights, all that stuff. It was the actors that agreed to do it and graciously indulged me with their time and their patience. Because some of them were older and had been around and they’re like here’s this kid. Like, What the hell, you know, they don’t even know how to put a camera together. Like, it was funny. There were moments on set where somebody pulled out a hammer and was smashing that. And then this older actress, a very mature actress pulls me aside and says, all the years I’ve been on set, I’ve never seen a hammer.

You know, like, what are you guys doing? There are all those experiences. But yeah, it does take an army and it does take mentors and people to kind of encourage you along the way. And it’s like, Steven Spielberg says, you know, those voices whisper they don’t show. So you have to really pay attention. And I realized looking back that every time I wanted to give up something one of those whispers would come around. Or I would meet someone at the grocery store or someone or I’d read a sign on the street that would say, keep going. Like there was always something that keeps pushing you forward, but you have to pay attention.

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that. Yeah, the cheerleader or the cheerleaders, I like to call them, and as you said, those were the whispers which I adore. Oh, my goodness, I love it. And so past that film, so walk me through the trajectory past that point.

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, there was we formed a company. I met my partner on that first film when several so-called producers came on board. And I realized they wanted to sit around drinking martinis more than they wanted to produce. You know, at the end of the day, I’m like, we need money. We need crew, we need stuff. What’s happening. So I met Alessandra and we formed the company. Our dream was to make a feature film. We heard of this fund that had opened up and we happen to have a slate of projects, and we pitched 123. It was no, no, no. And we had developed this film project that was originally a documentary. So one door closed, let’s just say that.

So somebody encouraged us to come up with the pitch and the whole thing and then ended up stealing part of that project and doing their own which was very hurtful. But we had this pitch document, so I pitched it to this, this funding broadcaster and he said, we had dinner and he said, Yeah, I love this, you know, bring this in. And I said, but are you interested in financing it as a documentary? He said, Yeah, we only do documentary, you know. So it’s okay, fine. So it was just one of those Lightning in a Bottle moments where there was no questions asked. It was like, you know, 250,000 or whatever.

It was just barely enough to do a documentary. And we took that and we said how can we take this money and make a feature film, we do the unthinkable. We make a feature film with hundreds of extras, chickens horses, period piece with costumes and everything shooting in 14 days. Build an entire downtown 1911 Little Italy in northern Ontario in Canada. And again when I look back, I don’t know how we did that. But anyways, months go by and the broadcaster’s like how’s the documentary going? Oh, amazing. So we finish this feature film. Then we hand it to him and say, by the way, we took the money and made a feature film. He’s like, what we don’t know how to. We’re not in the feature film business.

So anyway, that’s how I got my first film made. And they did very well. Obviously, the film did phenomenally well. It ended up hitting movie theatres in Canada, and it was beating out like Denzel Washington’s inside man. And like, we were hitting number one and all the box office charts and Cineplex from LA. Like the theatre chain calls and says, Who the hell are these people? What is this little film. So that’s kind of how my feature film career started. It was all by not knowing anything, just without seeing limitations. Because we didn’t have any context for being reasonable. We were totally unreasonable. A lot of that was the impact piece, it wasn’t a film that was just made. There was a lot of heart net, it was about an Italian woman who murdered her abusive husband.

On Easter Sunday, she was in a domestically violent situation. And it was like the OJ trial of 1911, there was over a million petitions sent to our capitol to have her life saved in 1911. And that sparked a frenzy of support and interest in retelling her story. Because it shined a light on something that is really prevalent in society. So it was that impact piece that drove the box office. It wasn’t that there was a huge Hollywood star in it or anything like that. It was like this story means something to that community and to society in general.

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that. Tony Robbins talks about being resourceful. He’s like the greatest person in the world. They’re the ones that can be resourceful. And that’s exactly what you did. You know you took that 250. And you’re like, alright, well, how can we be resourceful and take it to the next level? which I love right? Like I almost, it’s almost much more fun playing within the confines of a box because you’re forced to get creative.

Sergio Navaretta
That is for sure. Every single film has been that way the colossal was done on a credit card, we got the star of the movie attached. We were having barbecue in the summer, and by September, we were shooting. We didn’t have a clue where we were gonna get the money, or how we were gonna, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. So we took out our credit cards and said, How are we going to make a movie for $45,000. And so I can’t even teach that to anybody, because it’s so just so outlandish. It’s so ridiculous. But we did it. And it’s a lot of beg, borrow and steal. It’s like we did a movie in wine country.

Every winery contributed their winery, and then all their wine and their food. And we partner with the local college. So their culinary department practiced on us. They fed us every day. And so it’s just building those strategic partnerships, but not a lot of people we discovered are willing to do that work. You know, we had a lot of producers throughout our career walk away. So you can’t do this. This is not there’s just not enough resources, or money or time or whatever the thing is, and we just did it anyway,

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that. Well, because one of the biggest limitations, I can envision some of you be listening to this, they look at your portfolio and your background. They’re just like Sergio had it made. Oh, good look at what he’s involved in, like, I’m sure he had a tonne of money. And did this, this and this. And this isn’t this, you literally just gave us like the most humble beginnings. Yeah, we had to figure it out. Like it’s like entrepreneurs do in the very beginning. What do you do you use whatever resources that you have? Right? So which I just saw remarkable?

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, and even most recently, I mean, we had one of the producers of the cube and just say, this is not possible. So what we learned is, no matter how much money you have, if people have those limiting beliefs, whether you have 1 million 10 million or 100, there’s always someone who’s gonna say, there’s just not enough money or time, and you have to either tune those voices out. You know, I remember when we finished the film, somebody had said, you got to limit your expectations.

I said, Please don’t ever say that, to me again. If soon as we limit our expectations, there’s no point in getting out of that, I have to see the world limitless. And that little film ended up running an Oscar nomination race and being released during a pandemic, and whatever, whatever. It takes a tonne of tenacity, and yeah, almost delusion. Because you have to tune out all the voices that say, we’ve done this 100 times and it’s not possible. And you have to say, Yep, thank you, and just keep going.

Pamela Bardhi
You have such an incredible mindset. And like, I feel like you’ve had to break through a lot of self-limiting beliefs, which I love, love, love, love, love. Walk me through your thought process. You just shared it a little bit. When do you say you have to tune everybody else out, like how do you do that? Because some people struggle. They’re like the self-limiting beliefs and that’s really that is what creates fear. And then the fear was what blocks everyone from achieving their truest potential because of all of that. So if we can tune out those self-limiting beliefs, we avoid that whole fear factor I like to call it. So walk me through your mindset and what you kind of go through the play by play in your mind to tune all of it out.

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah. So I was lucky when you talk about mindset, a lot of film directors, or artists have no idea what we’re talking about. So I had the good fortune of being surrounded by people that knew what that was. And when I was dealing with panic attacks and everything else, I discovered Deepak Chopra and Dr. Wayne Dyer, Tony Robbins, and many others. And in those days, we had cassette tapes. So I’d walk around my business at the time that and I’d have headphones on. I just listened to it over and over and over and over again, it’s not the be-all-end-all. It’s not like you can do all the seminars in the world. But you still have to be able to implement that in your life. It wasn’t until the pandemic that I realized it’s a daily practice mindset.

It’s like working out at the gym, you have to work out your mind every single day. And whether it’s today or last week, or every time there’s an announcement in the news and another lockdown, it’s discipline. And the other thing I’d say is that your dream, your vision has to be much bigger than your fear, or perceived limitations. So my dreams were so huge that the screen in my mind was kind of like, overwhelmed by the dream. When those fears would come up it was just like being overwhelmed by a dream. So the fears just kind of dissipate.

And it’s some of it is just playing with your own mind. Like when you walk into a room, you have to roleplay. You have to almost, I used to think it was like fake it till you make it. But it’s not that it’s just it, be it now. If you want to be a ballerina, the be the ballerina on the subway, in the restaurant. You have to carry yourself in a certain way and just be that period. It’s a choice.

Pamela Bardhi
Absolutely love that. And just that chills when you said that you have to be it, you don’t have to fake it till you make it. You are it. That’s Oh my god, I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I mean, you mentioned now your most recent project, which is the Cuban. So talk to me about that, how that sort of spark in your world and where it’s at now, and what it’s all about too. Because I don’t want to give away too much.

Sergio Navaretta
I’ll give you the truncated version. So for about five years, there was this mini-studio group that I was a part of led by, I guess a high-profile billionaire. There was an office in Beverly Hills, and it was doing the LA thing. And I was involved in this project called Arctic dogs with some huge stars. It was very gratifying on so many levels. But I burned out it was like, I was just a small cog in a massive wheel. There was nobody driving the bus some that times like because we didn’t know anything about animation, no one did. So we were just kind of figuring it out was trial by fire. And towards the end of that, because it was such a long production schedule.

I said I need to get back to directing passion projects. Projects that I drive, where I’m in control in and around the same time. Actually met an Albanian Canadian actress and singer from Degrassi and a Golia. We were at a party or at an industry event and her mom’s like, here’s my daughter, and we start talking and and I said, let’s find something to work on together. And it was a few months later, her and her partner at the time brought me this short film project. And it was based on this young man’s experience with his grandfather in Russia. So I remember I was at the studio, wrapping up the animation movie and I said, Look, we’ll do a short film. No stakes, no pressure of stars and distribution.

Let’s just do a short film, just for the joy of doing the creative work that we just love to do. And one of my mentors once said to me, regardless of what’s going on in the world, or the industry, you can always be creative. Nobody can stop you so so that’s really how it started. From a short film that evolved into a feature film, and then we got Oscar award winning actor Lou Gossett, Jr. one of my absolute favourite actresses shortly Aghdashloo and Lauren Holly, who I used to love in Dumb and Dumber. And like all these incredible actors that I just grew up loving, and being in awe of, and it just kind of man, it was just like a whirlwind. To be honest, it was one of those projects that just pulled us.

Every time, like an investor fell through and another one showed up hours before the whole thing fell apart. That’s why you got to believe in the notion of faith and things happen for a reason. Even when it’s the scariest, you have to commit to the faith, because that’ll carry you through. So we were on this trajectory, this path of film festivals and winning awards. And then a global pandemic hits and we’re like, damn, now what. So there was a week where we were just like, defeated, we’re just tired. We’re just like, just forget it. Three years of work. Let’s just move on to the next what are you going to do? And then we just started getting busy again, just finding ways.

Like, Okay, if everything’s locked down, why don’t we do our, gala at a drive-in if drive-ins are open, we’ll do it that way. And in the US, it was virtual cinema. So You know, there was an example when Time magazine was doing a feature on it they didn’t know what virtual cinema was. So there’s there was this whole like major pivoting happening and journalist not even knowing what it was.

Cuz of all that we came in through the back door and like suddenly this film. This little engine could end up winning, running an Oscar nomination race. And, you know, I remember just sitting there opening the variety and then seeing top 20 or top 50 picks or whatever, the Cuban Lou Gossett Jr. Sure Aghdashloo as their predicted predictions for that year. So it was crazy. The whole thing was crazy. When I think back

Pamela Bardhi
Incredible oh my god to make it up to Oscar’s nominations. That is incredible. But see, again, the resourcefulness drive-ins instead of you know, like, I love the pivot. I love the pivot mindset that you’re in

Sergio Navaretta
It’s no choice.

Pamela Bardhi
No choice, right? But it’s just so fascinating. It’s just so fascinating to me how you were able to do that, oh, my goodness.

Sergio Navaretta
I’ll take that back. I mean, we did have a choice, the choice was to do nothing. I just didn’t want to accept that. Because we had come so far, I didn’t tell you what the film is about. So I’ll start with that. The Why was so important. So it’s about an elderly gentleman who needs his young nurse in a nursing home through their interactions. They formed this unlikely relationship. And we’ve learned that he has Alzheimer’s and through the power of music, he starts to come back to life through their interaction. It’s a really tender, beautiful story.

It’s even though we’re dealing with tackling Alzheimer’s and elderly care, we do it in a fun way. So using Afro Cuban jazz, Alario Duran was a world-renowned Cuban pianist did the music. So it’s definitely a fun ride. And I think it touched on something that a lot of people were thinking about. You know, our nursing homes and how we treat our elderly. Again, it’s timing and we were all personally connected to it. I had lost my father around the same time. For me, that movie was an homage to him and a way of honoring his memory.

What Would Sergio Older Self Tell His Younger Self

Pamela Bardhi
Thank you so much for sharing that Sergio. I mean, I can’t wait to actually see it, I definitely want to. I’m super excited about that. I mean, I love the beauty and how you incorporate all of your lessons in your vision into what you do. And you pour it out. It’s so incredible, I can’t even tell you, and one of my biggest questions for you is. This is my favorite question, which is, you know, what would your older self tell your younger self based on what you know now?

Sergio Navaretta
Oh, that’s easy. Relax, have fun. It’s gonna be okay. I live without regret. Like I live life to the fullest and I strive to create a life I don’t need a vacation from. And I’ve think I’ve been successful in doing that. But my only tiny regret is that I didn’t have more fun. It’s going to be okay, it’s you’re not going to run out of food, you’re not going to die. Most likely, just relax, enjoy it. That would be the biggest advice and believe in yourself. Because the self doubt will take years off your life and only slow you down that erodes your dream. So if you have a big dream in your head, every time you have that self doubt pop up. It’s just slowing you down.

Pamela Bardhi
Yes, amen. Amen. And hear your stories. There’s no way that anyone can stop this wonderful man, Sergio.

Sergio Navaretta
I have to because it doesn’t match the vision that I had in my head for you know what democracy looks like what this country stands for. And there’s like misalignments which cause confusion is like what the hell is going on? But we have a choice to focus on gotta watch the news at all. I don’t pay attention to headlines at all. We are the directors of our own movie. So I’m trying to create a compelling movie that I can be proud of, and that my son can be proud of who’s only nine. And I have to be an example for him.

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that, Sergio. I’m thinking you got something up your sleeve in 2022 given no matter what the situation is. I with your resourcefulness and everything in the past and your mindset. Like I know something amazing is happening in 2022. So what’s going on in your world? Within the next six to 12 months?

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, so we have an exciting slate of projects. We’re working on optioning a New York best-selling book that we want to turn into a movie in a series. We’re developing another TV series, there’s a movie that I’m doing in South Africa, which I’m super excited about. And a big part of our time now is spent on innovation and predicting the future of content creation and content consumption. So you’re we’re very excited about Mata and FTS and crypto. And just trying to figure out new and clever ways that we could engage people in the way that they consume content.

Pamela Bardhi
I love that, I can’t wait to see what manifesto choice 22 is For you, my friend. Honestly, I just love your story. I love everything that you’re about everything you embody. And I’m sure your son is gonna grow up one day and be like my dad is a freakin rock star. I’m sure he knows that already. But he’s gonna keep me humble.

Sergio Navaretta
Be humble. This morning I said to him, this is interesting because we don’t talk about mindset. I mean I’m just his dad, you know, but I said, How do you define failure? And he said, as a blessing, and I said, What do you mean? He said, Well, it teaches us the way how to not do something. And I was just like, how does that nine-year-old like. I didn’t even know how to spell failure at nine, they’re just moving so fast. So he’s definitely my guru, my mentor, my teacher, so he came into my life for a reason.

Pamela Bardhi
I absolutely love that. So yeah, absolutely love that. He sounds like an old soul. And I love that. Wow. I’m just excited to see everything that manifests in the future. I mean, you’ve already done so much. You’ve impacted so many lives through your work and like, just what’s coming next is going to be super exciting. So now you gotta let everyone know where to find you and your awesomeness.

Sergio Navaretta
Yeah, so Sergio Navarretta on Instagram, active on that Facebook, for sure. Then sergionavarrettae.com is my home and we’re all my stuff is an things coming up. So appreciate that. And I appreciate being here. This is like amazing. You’ve inspired me, as always, you know, someone who’s that entrepreneurial. And that focus at your age. I mean I told you my story. I didn’t know where I was when I was your age, and you’ve already accomplished so much. So appreciate the pain and presence.

Pamela Bardhi
I appreciate you my friend. It’s such an honour that you know, I learned so much throughout this process. And I just adored hearing your story and all that you’re up to and what you’re going to continue to do. I can’t wait to see that manifest. But thank you so so much for being here today. I can’t tell you how grateful I am. You are amazing. So that’s it for today’s episode of underdog. Catch us next week, always dropping on Thursdays. And remember, if you’re interested in real estate, or want to learn how to create more money and magic in your life. Check out meetwithpamela.com and let’s chat. Sending you so so much love

 

Tune in to the episode to hear the rest of my incredible interview with the amazing Sergio Navaretta.