Main entry: Suckcess
Definition: A SXSW-featured musical short created by SA high-school student filmmakers
Jessica Torres, 16, and Yvonne Hernandez, 17, for Piñata Protest that tells the tale of musical redemption from mundane life.
As the film opens at Ruta Maya River Walk, an average worker Joe arrives and mechanically performs his customary tasks. Another day, another dollar at the local coffeehouse.
“We wanted to show a guy who has to go to work but doesn’t like his job,” Hernandez said. “In ‘Suckcess,’ they sing about being bored with work and just wanting to stay home.”
Like a reluctant robot, average Joe spends his days taking orders, serving beverages, and cleaning tables. Meanwhile, punk rockers Piñata
Protest play onstage to a lively crowd. Joe’s ennui eventually prompts him to join in the festivities to pass the time, and it brings a smile to his face, if only for a little while.
The film footage captures the crowd’s enjoyment as the band effectively represents the world of puro-punk. The camera gets up close and personal with the band — focusing on everything from the singer playing his accordion with wide eyes to the drummer furiously banging on his drums.
Bilingual, accordion-powered rockers Piñata Protest play an eclectic mix of rock music, built with norteño, polka, ska, and punk, and it’s relished by a glut of music lovers, from rowdy kids to 30-somethings. Together for a mere two years, Piñata Protest have a seven-song EP and now, thanks to Torres and Hernandez, a music video.
“Jessica knew about the band and I really liked the music; it’s different,” Hernandez said. “We had to do a music video as a project and decided to make ‘Suckcess.’”
“`Piñata Protest` were very open,” according to Say Sí Media Arts Director and “Suckcess” video producer Guillermina Zabala. “I think they were also very thankful that the students were taking the time to make a video for them.”
Torres and Hernandez were one of four groups of Say Sí students to create a music video as an assignment in May and June of last year. Although there was only one day of actual shooting for “Suckcess,” according to Zabala, students were also responsible — with the guidance of their instructors, of course — for pre-production work like storyboarding and location scouting. Additionally, she says of the young filmmakers’ process, “with music videos you find the style in the editing.”
As co-directors, Zabala says Torres and Hernandez strike a good balance: “Jessica’s a little bit more straightforward, she’s aggressive … Yvonne’s a bit more shy, but she has great ideas.” Because Torres was already acquainted with one member of the band, says Zabala, it was easier for her to get to know the others, and Hernandez was able to communicate through her.
Despite its unassuming conception, “Suckcess” has been crazy suckcessful: It won a spot in the Texas High School Short section of the South by Southwest Film Festival and is plastered all over the internet on MySpace (check it out here: Myspace.com/pinataprotest) and YouTube.
“We sent, I would say, six or seven entries `to SXSW` … two were accepted,” says Zabala. The other was “Pantalón,” a video self-portrait by none other than … Jessica Torres. Though neither film took home the top prize, “Suckcess” and “Pantalón,” according to Zabala, were the only SA-repping videos in the Texas High School Shorts category, which comprised 15 films total. And, in keeping with the industry trend, Torres and Hernandez were among the few female filmmakers in the male-dominated category. Yeah, speaking of things that rock … •
Ashley Lindstrom contributed reporting to this article.