And Action! Carlos Lerma works to master his filmmaking craft at Columbia

By Uriel Reyes, Staff Reporter

Carlos Lerma, who just finished the first year of his Film and Television major, stands outside the Dwight as he prepares to travel back to Mexico for the summer. Lerma is planning on continuing his studies as a film student as well as releasing a book featuring his poetry collection. Abra Richardson

Columbia student Carlos Lerma started making YouTube videos when he was 13 and a few years later, produced his first original short.

“It just went on from there,” he said. “I had an iPad and I was like I can try animating something. I did it and the next week it was up on the internet.”

Lerma, a first-year film and television arts major from Mexico, is inspired by YouTube videos like the very first short he saw, a short film called “The Lottery” by Shane Dawson.

“I’ve never watched any of [Dawson’s] stuff, but I watched this short [and] fell in love with short films and that night I just started doing a marathon of shorts,” Lerma said. “I also get inspired by music and cartoons…From the cartoons I’ve watched as a kid to the shows I’ve watched as a kid, the songs I’ve listened to, those types of things have definitely inspired me and my work a lot.”

Sabel Colon, a junior film and television arts major, met Lerma through a casting call for one of his short films and ever since, she’s been close friends with him. 

Lerma “is really fun,” Colon said. “It’s the kind of personality you can bond with. I feel like he can connect to any person he meets.”

Colon said Lerma is always writing, “He’s always talking about the next thing he’s gonna do or the thing he’s doing at the moment.”

Rose Howat, a first-year film and television arts major, met Lerma through Instagram after he liked the work that Howat had been doing.

When Lerma works on a film, Howat said, “He’s very [professional], he knows what he’s doing. I’ve been on set when he’s doing his projects [and] he knows exactly what he’s doing. He [directs] well, he’s very serious…knows where to put the camera…he makes a great director.”

Lerma’s newest short film is Firefly, an animated reimagining of one of his previously archived works.

Jason Betke, an adjunct instructor in the Cinema and Television Arts Department, said Lerma’s work is polished. “I encouraged him to stick it out and find his niche —directing, or camera, or producing,” Betke said.

After he graduates, Lerma said he knows the film industry is hard to break into. “I really just want to build on [the work] for myself first and let that be an anchor point…for me to have paid and better project,” he said.

Along with continually making films, Lerma is working on releasing a book called “Adultish,” a poetry collection that has essays and letters about transitioning from a teenager to an adult.

“I’m planning to write it and publish it next year and I want to do a lot of cool stuff with it,” Lerma said.