MEMBER MONDAYS | Illyana Bocanegra

Illyana Bocanegra

is a filmmaker and the Project & Ops Lead for #BossBabesATX. Boss Babes recently hosted their film screening series for Babes Fest at Motion Media Arts Center, so we chatted with Illyana to talk about her involvement with this incredible non-profit organization!


What's your role with #BOSSBABESATX like? What kind of tasks do you take on?

I help Jane steer the ship. We work together on our programming and events. I manage community partnerships, book vendors for our community meet ups and get people to resources they are in need of. I’m also in our inbox getting to all the questions and comments and manage our committee & interns and follow our event timelines so things happen when they’re supposed to. I also take on lead event producer for series like Meet Her Hands, which happens every summer and CraftHER Market twice a year and our Community Meet Ups every other month. This role has grown a lot and led me to do really neat things. All in all, I would summarize my role as project management: working with dope artists, community organizers, and entrepreneurs to make good things happen in the community.

How did you get involved with #BOSSBABESATX? What do you like about working with them? 

In 2015, right after #bbatx got started I went to a community meet up. At the time, we were so new and people could just walk right up to the stage and get on the mic. It was really wholesome. I got on the mic and said that I was looking for new friends in film. A few weeks later I reached out to ask if I could make a short doc about the growth #bbatx was experiencing. We could all feel something was happening and I wanted to make sure it got documented. (I’m obsessed with documentary archives and footage.)

 #BossBabesATX meeting. Photo by: Amy Weis Photography (INSTAGRAM: @amyweissphotography)

#BossBabesATX meeting. Photo by: Amy Weis Photography (INSTAGRAM: @amyweissphotography)

A year after reaching out (they were so busy), Jane and I met for coffee at Thunderbird on Manor. I thought the meeting was to go over this short documentary I wanted to make about them, but instead, I was offered a position on the team to do video. It was the best thing. I remember going home and thinking about how lucky I was to be a part of something I cared deeply about. I love the work that we get to do and the challenges that come with organizing and supporting the community. My favorite thing about working for #bbatx is the committee of people and friends I’ve made along the way.

Babes Fest 2018 took place recently. We were honored to host the film portion at the Motion Media Arts Center! How did it go? What were some highlights of the festival this year?

IB: I think it went so well! Thanks again for hosting us! The energy was incredible. When you get to come out and support your talented friends and see them shine--that’s the best and that’s what makes this job so worth it. I have so many highlights but I’ll narrow it down.

1. LINZY BELTRAN!!!! She cracks me up. I wish I could see her perform new jazz numbers every week.
2. Jessica Jin. Having her in town from San Francisco and listening to her talk candidly about her experience with the #cocknotglocks movement.
3. My music video for Lomelda debuted! And many folks who were in the music video got to watch it together. We hadn’t been in the same place like that since filming. I felt very grateful.

What's in store for #BOSSBABES now that Babes Fest is over? What do you see for #BOSSBABES in the future?

Babes Fest is over, but CraftHER Market is right around the corner! The work is never over—there’s always the next thing we can be doing to support our community and make space for folks who need it. I’d like to see us build a coalition with other organizers in different places in the world and Texas. I want to understand what kinds of things places like Abilene or Houston and El Paso are going through, and build a network of folks to keep each other accountable so that people like 45 can’t win or divide us. 

You taught summer camp here at Austin School of Film back in 2017. What did you teach? What was your experience like working with kids and helping them explore their creative sides?

 Illyana’s music video for “Interstate Vision” by Lomelda screening at Babes Fest

Illyana’s music video for “Interstate Vision” by Lomelda screening at Babes Fest

I taught some of the most creative 9 year olds! It was digital filmmaking with a focus on horror as a genre. We wrote scripts, casted each other in the films, operated DSLR cameras, and learned some editing. I love teaching and I love spending time with younger people—they are so smart and have a unique understanding of the world. They teach me so much.

You're also a filmmaker yourself, what projects do you have going on right now? Any upcoming projects you're hoping to start?


Right now I’m making a short scary movie called “Twenty-Three” that I just filmed. I’m also always writing episodes for my web series called Social Studies. The first episode just finished getting edited and will be screening at Space24 Twenty in September with some very talented folks and FemBeat.

My music video for Lomelda is going to be released online sometime soon and I'm excited to share that. 

I’d really like to make more content for That Time of the Month with Meghan Ross. There’s so much to do with that show. Meghan is such a good, funny writer. Our summer intern Mary and I filmed a short interview with her for Babes Fest. 

How has being a part of the Austin Cinemaker Space community connected you with other opportunities?

I moved to Austin in 2012 and went to rent film gear with my friend Ivan. We met at Austin School of Film when it used to be on Cesar Chavez. I was, like, “Wait there’s a place with lots of film nerds like me? A place to take classes and learn more? Count me in!” 

“Working in film is about making connections so being in an environment that fosters creativity and collaboration is so good for that.”

 Babes Fest artists. Photo by: Jinni J (INSTAGRAM: @heyjinnij)

Babes Fest artists. Photo by: Jinni J (INSTAGRAM: @heyjinnij)

I met my creative partner Jenni Kaye here at the Motion Media Arts Center last year during a meet up ya’ll had. Best time and place to be. 

What would your advice be to someone who is looking to get involved in the in the creative community here in Austin?

My advice is this: LEAN INTO BEING UNCOMFORTABLE! Meeting people is hard and you have to be vulnerable and open. It’s so cliche but seriously, just show up as you are and tell people what your needs are—like, “I’m here to make new friends” or “I’m here because I want to do X, Y, Z”. Communicate your feelings and trust the process—trust yourself that you are where you’re supposed to be. People are receptive to those feelings when they are honest. There’s lots of opportunities to meet new folks and the creative meet ups that Motion Media Arts Center hosts are a good start and basically ANY #bbatx event fosters that space to meet people, especially Community Meet ups. Next one is in October!

INTERVIEW BY: Mia Garza


MEMBER MONDAYS is a weekly interview series highlighting current members & alumni of the Austin School of Film + Austin Cinemaker Space community! Each week, we’ll be featuring one of our incredibly eclectic community members and take a deep dive into their work. Gaining an insight into what makes them, them.