Aspiring young film director remembers past, looks to future
by John DeFoor
Jan 08, 2012 | 3549 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Aspiring film director Nicholas Guerra sits on his front porch in Cartersville. Guerra is planning to co-write and direct a short film  in Cartersville. 
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Aspiring film director Nicholas Guerra sits on his front porch in Cartersville. Guerra is planning to co-write and direct a short film in Cartersville. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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When Nicholas Guerra first moved to Cartersville he was a teen with behavioral problems -- placed in an alternative school and special education classes. Yet now with the help of his religious beliefs and new found passion Guerra strives to move forward in the field of cinematography.

Guerra grew up in what he calls a "bad area" in East Los Angeles -- surrounded by gang violence.

"He experienced a lot of shootings going on around us and the Rodney King riots happened right down the street from where we live," said his mother Shannon Pollock. "There was fire everywhere and looting and you see everything going on around us."

According to Pollock, one of Guerra's uncles was even shot in broad daylight, struck in the leg.

"Gangs ... shootings ... I just got tired of hearing of the shootings," Guerra said. He said the sound of helicopters and sirens constantly filled the air.

In 2004 Guerra moved to Cartersville and entered alternative school where he would spend most of his time in high school. During the majority of these years he also attended special education classes.

"I've been in special education since I was 7 years old." Guerra said. "I really didn't pay attention in class [and] had trouble communicating with others."

According to Guerra, he struggled with a learning disability. "It took me more time for me to understand," he said, and he had some behavioral problems resulting in him being "in and out of trouble."

"He had some up and downs; he nearly got arrested a couple of times," Pollock said.

"I would see other kids having fun. I always felt left out," Guerra said. "I was hurt. I felt like I didn't fit in with others. They thought I was stupid and I felt like I was stupid. I really didn't have any use for anybody."

Many of Guerra's classmates had a disability -- down syndrome, autism, or behavioral problems. "Being in Special Ed. made me feel for others," Guerra said. "I learned to feel for others."

Guerra finally graduated from alternative school and entered Cass High School for his junior year. He briefly returned to the alternative school -- "I got in trouble and had to go back."

"Nick -- we didn't know if he was going to graduate or anything cause he kept rebelling and kept having behavioral problems," Pollock said. "We just kept praying for him. He just got to the point to where he was tired of being at that school," his mother said.

"Faith kept me going," Guerra said. "Without faith, I really don't know where I would be right now. Faith in God and the support from my mom and the family that is around here."

Guerra returned to Cass High School.

"I didn't get in trouble, I worked the system, I accomplished something, something before I couldn't really accomplish. I couldn't hold my temper. I got sick to where I had to do something with my life. I had to finish school because my mom and dad didn't finish high school."

For his senior year Guerra attended Woodland High -- in regular classes.

"Finding God changed me; I really didn't know God when I was younger. When I got here I gave my life to Christ and from there everything was better. Even though I still struggled a lot to get where I'm at, I still overcame many obstacles. I struggled a lot my last few months of high school but I graduated."

During those last few months at Woodland, Guerra took a graphic arts class that he attributes to his involvement in cinematography. "I didn't really get a chance to get into video class ... but I was fascinated by the aspect of making music videos. I was so interested in how it was made."

One of his first videos was a short music video set to Christian music. Guerra called the video "A Journey Through Time." The footage featured some clips he filmed, along with clips from historical world moments and a moment that impacted Guerra's life: the riots of L.A. He submitted the video for a scholarship which he did not receive.

One of Guerra's inspirations was his uncle Randall Bell, who Guerra describes as a father figure.

"He was one of the first ones who said, 'You are good at what you do, keep at it,'" Guerra said. "He really was an inspiration to me." Bell passed away two years ago from cancer.

In 2008, Guerra briefly attended the American Intercontinental University. One of Guerra's first projects was aiding in an interview with R&B artist Nicki Minaj in Atlanta. "I was the audio personnel for that event. This is back in '08 before she was ever signed to a major label. She was barely starting out." Guerra also had the opportunity to meet rapper Waka Flocka Flame and do camera operations for the music videos of artists such as Gucci Mane, Travis Porter, and T.I.

According to Guerra, due to financial restraints, he had to leave A.I. However, he continued working in his field.

From October 2010 to December 2010 Guerra worked on a short film called "Son of a Pastor" shot around Allatoona Lake where he did sound and operated a camera crane. In 2011 he worked on a film called "Herbert and Cleofis and the Unfortunate Chronicles of the Kidnapping of Miss Ella Fynn." Most recently Guerra has worked with local artists including Jack Rip who would introduce him to Cartersville rapper K-Major in the summer of 2011.

"I went to Texas with [K-Major] to shoot a performance and some club events," Guerra said. "From there I started shooting a lot of his viral videos ... short music videos." Guerra does the behind the scenes camera work and directs the talent and lighting of the videos. For music videos he tells the artists and audience which actions to take in order "to make the cinematography look good."

Guerra said his work with K-Major gives him the opportunity to network and meet other artists. "Meeting people, networking actually helps you get out there and get your foot in the door."

"He's been getting out there, trying to get his name out," Pollock said.

As for Guerra's friendship with K-Major -- "He's always telling me to stay motivated, stay focused on what you want in life," Guerra said. "You really can't ask for a better friend."

Guerra hopes to attend a six-month program next April at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, Calif., to get certification, focusing on directing, filming, editing, script writing and producing.

"I'm his biggest fan I tell him," Pollock said. "I try to praise him for all the good work he does and he does some excellent, excellent work. He's very, very talented. I wish I could do half the things he does. I would like to see him go to that musical school to where he can work on set with all the best cameras.

"Right now he's doing a lot of things, but he's doing [them] for free," she said. "With a certificate he will get out there more, his name will be known better and he will get out there making money. We all need money in this world."

Guerra is also planning to co-write and direct a short film called "Born Again," based partially on his own experiences, telling a story of overcoming. "Its going to be a big thing for me," Guerra said. He hopes to film in Cartersville.

"It's been a struggle," Pollock said, "but you gotta start sometimes at the bottom and go to the top. He's very into what he does. Nick's a very smart, talented, incredible person. He's just an exceptional kid. He had a lot of problems, but he's worked through most of them and I have a lot of faith that he is going to succeed in life."

"Cartersville made me the person I am today," Guerra said. "Without coming here and learning about God and just accepting him, I would still be in L.A. doing something negative ... I want to give back to the people that helped me."