ABOUT Para Ellos


Para Ellos is a modern, children's fable about Maria, a smart, determined 10-year-old girl, who

loves nothing more than her father and his bedtime tales. On the night her father goes missing,

Maria, along with her little brother Juan, embark on a journey across the U.S./Mexico border in

hopes of bringing him back home, but not without the guidance of three curious, yet meddling

desert creatures.

This film is an immigration story told with a dash of magic realism and live-action puppetry. And

although it embraces a use of fantasy, the core of the story was inspired by real events happening

on and around the U.S./Mexico border today. 


Back in the summer of 2012, we read an article that really stuck with us. It was about the thousands

of children who have been discovered crossing the U.S./Mexico border unaccompanied, some as

young as the age of six. These children cross over illegally for various reasons, many to simply

reunite with family members living in the United States. For Para Ellos, we wanted to tell a story about immigration to the United States, about this journey that many have taken before, but this time told through the eyes of a child.





We have always had a love for children's stories and bedtime tales. Peter PanThe Wonderful Wizard of OzThe Jungle Book. All of these are stories about growing up and are centered around a child's adventure into the unknown. We really connected to the feelings of struggle and the lessons that these young characters learn along the way; we wanted to incorporate many of these same themes into our film. 


The story of Para Ellos is one that is very close to us both. When deciding what to focus our graduate thesis film on, we looked no further than to the stories and experiences of our own Latino culture. Growing up on the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso, TX, I was very much interested, and in many ways familiar, with stories of immigration into the United States and about the struggle for the American dream. 


Our hope for this film is to generate attention to the human and societal issue of child immigration from Mexico and Central America into the United States. We, as a society, tend to see illegal immigration as just 'another political matter' and often think only about lost jobs, drugs, and violence. However, what we forget to think about are the people at the core of this issue, families and children alike.


Para Ellos is our way of shedding light onto the somewhat unknown chapter of child immigration.  



Puppetry has been around for centuries and can be found in most cultures throughout history whether it be religious rituals, theatrical shows, or celebratory festivities. We decided to use puppetry to help tell the story of Para Ellos. Although the fantasy genre may seem like an unconventional way of addressing the issue of illegal immigration, embracing a child's perspective allows us to focus more on Maria's experiences not only as a journey through the desert but as a journey through her imagination. 


In Para Ellos, Maria and her brother Juan encounter three desert creatures, each portrayed by a puppet: an overbearing Owl, a cunning Coyote, and a mysterious Gila Monster. These animals are the entities that interact with Maria and Juan during their search for their father, serving both as a means of assistance and temptation. By taking the practical approach of puppetry, these animal-characters have free range to be expressive, relatable, and move in real-time with these children. Creating an atmosphere in which the animals can be mystical, yet still tangible, was a priority for the story. Their presence provides a key element to bringing a poetic energy and a touch of magic to the film. 


We were very fortunate to have such a great team responsible for bringing these animal-characters to life. The amazing Mark Villalobos and Ron Karkoska of Monster-Effects (Los Angeles, CA) created, in both design and functionality, the puppets for the film. Their devotion and attention to great detail allowed us to achieve the specific aesthetic and dark beauty we were seeking for in these characters. 


Of course, without our fantastic puppeteers, these characters could not live within the film. Their dedication to their craft truly brought a naturalness, a sincerity, and personality to each creature. They never hesitated to immerse themselves fully into each and every scene.



THANK YOU for visiting our site and we look forward to sharing our film with you! 

Student produced at the University of Southern California - School of Cinematic Arts.