Patricio Salinas biography
While working as a producer for the city of Laredo's Public Access Center, where he created programs on different areas of the city's government, Patricio Salinas filmed an entirely different subject — comedy. A friend who was an aspiring stand-up comedian led Salinas to create a short piece about stand-up comedians along the Texas-Mexico border.
"It was a catalyst to buy my own equipment and practice non-linear editing, which is digital editing," he says.
Although his work with the center had received several state awards, Salinas decided to leave television production and concentrate on documentary film. He enrolled in UNT's program in Fall 2005.
Salinas says he first became interested in documentaries while completing his bachelor's degree in radio, television and film at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating in 2000, he returned to his hometown of Laredo and became a reporter for KVTV-TV, the city's CBS affiliate. He covered local politics there and closely followed the Texas Legislature's redistricting in 2003. It shifted most of Laredo from the 23rd to the 28th U.S. congressional district.
In January 2006, during his second semester in UNT's M.F.A. program, Salinas began following Ciro Rodriguez and other Democratic candidates for District 28 to gather footage for his documentary Texas 28. He traveled to Laredo, San Antonio and other campaign stops every other weekend.
Rodriguez had previously lost his District 28 seat to Henry Cuellar in the 2004 Democratic primary election by just 58 votes.
"The 2006 primary race was like a grudge match," Salinas says. "The race had all of the elements that made it interesting."
When the primary campaign ended, Cuellar had again won the Democratic nomination, and Salinas had taped 14 hours of footage for Texas 28. But the primary wasn't to be the end of Rodriguez's political aspirations. In June 2006, after Salinas had completed his documentary, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Texas Legislature had discriminated against minority voters with the redistricting. After new lines were drawn, District 23 included Rodriguez's home in south San Antonio, and a special election was ordered.
Rodriguez eventually won the District 23 seat in a runoff election with 54 percent of the vote. Now, the two primary opponents in Texas 28 — Rodriguez and Cuellar — are both Texas Democrats in Congress.
Texas 28 was shown at the Dallas Video Festival last August, at the Vista Film Festival in Dallas and at the Texas Independent Filmmakers Festival in San Antonio.
Salinas is now completing his second documentary as an M.F.A. student — Solo Vives Una Vez (You Only Live Once), which examines the Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased. He shot footage of last year's observances in Dallas and in the Mexican cities of Ciudad Victoria and Nuevo Laredo.
He says other students in the M.F.A. program have been helpful in giving him advice about both of his documentaries.
"The feedback you get in class once you start showing the raw footage of a film is very helpful," he says.
Currently a lab instructor for undergraduate film courses, Salinas plans to teach video production at a university after receiving his M.F.A. next year. He's also become interested in media sales to Hispanic markets after serving on the staff of UNT's Center for Spanish Language Media.
"I plan to have a full-time job and make documentaries on the side," he says.