Five Smooth Stones
Feature Article by Jon Minners
It took David five smooth stones to slay the giant Goliath in the inspiring tale of triumph over adversity and now one local filmmaker hopes the same can work for him as he tries to slay the giant film industry of Hollywood with a unique documentary unlike any other on the market.
Tishin Padilla owns the production company Five Smooth Stones and after winning various film festivals for his short film All You Can Eat, the local talent is attempting to make it big with his first full-length movie, a documentary that takes Padilla from his community on Hollywood Avenue to the bright lights and beautiful stars of Hollywood, California.
“It started out as an idea stemming from my own work situation,” says Padilla. “On November 4, 2004, I was owed 21 comp days and 15 vacation days and my company didn’t want to give them to me. I felt abused. I was working 60 hour shifts and the company owed me this time, but they had a history of not giving people the time they were owed, so I just decided to take them. I knew I was going to get fired; I didn’t want to, but I just wanted what was owed to me and what took place afterwards made me feel like I made the right decision.”
Padilla has had success having graduated from Hunter College with a film degree and using all he learned to film the neovangelistic short All You Can Eat, which gave the hungry a choice between a bible and food; food for the body or food for the soul. The film won first place in the Fade-Up Film Festival and won the God On Film Festival earning Padilla over $3,000 to help fund the digitally filmed documentary, which will either be titled Highwaychild or From Hollywood Avenue to Hollywood California.
“The idea came from the fact that I have always lived on Hollywood Avenue and my goal has always been to make it to Hollywood with a successful film,” said Padilla. “That’s the dream of any filmmaker. I played with a number of ideas; the most logical choice seemed to be from Hollywood to Hollywood and so I set off to make my film.”
The trip started off as a 27-day vacation, but Padilla’s thirst for life led him to extend the trip longer to shoot more scenes and enjoy what life had to offer him. “I met so many interesting people,” he said. “When I dropped off a waterfall and sprained my ankle, I met a Park Ranger named Mike who saved me. In Texas, while I was still on crutches, I met two guys on trucks and I hooked up with them and had a great time. I met Uncle Frank from the Jimmy Kimmel Live show and he treated me to some pizza.”
Padilla also saw a lot of interesting sights, including those in 50 cities and 25 states, hitting various national parks and traveling 24,000 miles. It became a trip by car, with Padilla driving from one city to another; by airplane, as Padilla flew a bi-plane over Santa Barbara; as he hiked a mountain and touched the Hollywood sign and by boat, as he traveled through the Bayou of Louisiana, where he got stuck in the middle of the night. But according to Padilla, it was faith that guided him on the trip the most.
“Faith was all I could depend on throughout the entire trip,” he confides. “I was depending on God. The trip was a mission; a self discovery. I trusted in God and he came through, providing me with signs and you see my prayers answered when I needed them.”
Padilla discovers that he lost his job during the trip and he soon became homeless, but through hard work, he gets a new job, finds ways to make additional money and finds an apartment. Everything is captured on video. “This is real reality; not something a network paid for,” he points out. “Viewers will see me at various stages. It was a rollercoaster ride; you see me at my worst and my best. I went into the hoods of various communities and I felt threatened a couple of times. I ran into trouble in Las Vegas and Santa Barbara, but the biggest danger was myself. Everyone was telling me to come back. They were saying I was crazy for doing this, but it was something I had to do. I did it against all odds and I was better off for it.”
However, Padilla realized he did have to come back and eventually his trip came to a close. “I was ready to stay,” he said. “I had an apartment overlooking the L.A. skyline, but I was lonely and I missed my friends. The Bronx is my home. I always wanted to live in California, but when I was there, I realized what was important. My memories and my friends are here and so I came back home.”
Padilla looks back at his journey, what he compares to Gulliver’s Travels and through all the good and the bad he encountered, he never regrets his decisions and looks forward to seeing people’s reactions when they see his completed work. Hoping to have it released by the end of the year, Padilla is first shooting some additional scenes in the Bronx and then editing it all together before entering the full-length documentary into film festivals. Padilla remains confident in his work and feels he made the right decisions.
“I lived my dream; I did what I always wanted to do,” he said. “I had a lot of fun and I learned what is really important in life. It changed my perspective on material things and my life has become simpler now. I have a better perspective. I got rid of a lot of junk; figuratively and mentally. The trip totally changed my life.”
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