FSU’s faculty filmmaker Antonio Méndez Esparza won the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for his film “Life and Nothing More” at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards in Santa Monica, California, March 3.
Something very unexpected happened when Florida State University’s Antonio Méndez Esparza, a gifted and impassioned faculty filmmaker and teacher at the College of Motion Picture Arts, heard his film “Life and Nothing More” announced as a winner at the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards.
His mind went blank.
Esparza didn’t expect that. He’d practiced a victory speech, albeit briefly, in his hotel room before the awards show in Santa Monica, California, even though winning seemed implausible.
So, as he and film producer Pedro Hernandez Santos leaped up from their table, embraced in a giddy bear hug and bounced up the aisle onto the stage to accept the prestigious Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award — given to the best feature film under $500,000 — Esparza had one thought.
“I was thinking, ‘What am I going to say now?’” Esparza recalled. “During the entire show, I was surprisingly calm because a big film was nominated in the same category, and I felt I wasn’t going to win. I did practice remarks a little bit, so as not to make a fool of myself, but when they called my name I forgot everything.”
Esparza did not forget his talented cast members, all of whom were nonprofessional, first-time movie actors from Tallahassee, literally selected from the aisles of Walmart and other ordinary places around town. Esparza spent two years casting the film. He ultimately found the perfect group to breathe life into his story about the power of single mothers and the toxic impact of racism, economic disenfranchisement and the criminal justice system on African-American families, too often marginalized by society.