By: Bianca De Paz

Master of Fine Arts alumnus, a writer and director of the multiple award-winning film, Tim Sparks, recently worked on his latest full feature, “AMARAICA.” The movie, which takes place in Texas, California, and Mexico, will be streaming on HBO in September 2021. At the time, Sparks created this film due to the U.S. government’s ‘Zero Tolerance’ child separation policy at Mexico’s border. Since he is a father and having dealt with this personally in the past with his own undocumented family members, he felt that this was a story that he really connected to.  

“As a film nerd, I think I really learned how to tell a story,” Sparks said. just felt that it was a good moment for me to kind of rely on personal experience and share my thoughts on the current issue.”   

Coming from a business background, Sparks knew how to make a project work. However, he had never done a full feature and still had a lot to learn in putting a film together. With the guidance of Tom Musca, an Associate Professor of Professional Practice at the School of Communication and director of the film they worked on together, “Chateau Vato,” Sparks had the opportunity to be the producer and translate those skills into his own feature “AMARAICA.” 

“Tom’s a great mentor. I give him tons of credit for whatever I’ve achieved,” said Sparks. “He taught me the nuts and bolts of how to make a movie when we filmed Chateau Vato.” 

As Sparks puts it, AMARAICA, is “a film of ordinary people.” It perfectly captures an undocumented couple who discover that all the love in the world cannot protect their child, Amara from the recent energized U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency. Sparks mentions that a lot of the immigrants that come into Texas, are normal hard-working people that are trying to make a living. While he learned all the writing theories, he admits that it wasn’t until he went through the entire shooting and editing process that all of those big theory moments became clear. Luckily, his time completing his MFA program at the University of Miami, prepared him to take on multiple roles in the film industry.  

“I really learned how to get inside of a character’s motivation and how to really bring out the internal driving forces behind the main character,” Sparks added. 

The production process of AMARAICA took approximately 28 shooting days 

Today, Sparks continues to work as an independent film maker with several projects in the works. His favorite part of his job is the grind of making movies happen and bringing them to life.  

Here’s some enlightenment that Spark’s wants to give to future film students out there:  

“You just have to learn how to be bold. The thing about doing Art, whatever kind of Art it is, there’s always a level of insecurity. But I think what it really comes down to is just believing in yourself enough to just do it and the more you exercise that muscle, the better you’ll be.”  

“AMARAICA” will be streaming on HBO in September in 2021

View the trailer below: