Dynamic duo goes big
Story by Robin Elisabeth Kilmer
Many might see Juan Bago and O’s videos for the first time within the confines of a computer screen or smartphone.
Seven of their videos have been released on television, as well.
But the duo is inviting their fans to see the release of their new video, Still Here, on the big screen at United Palace of Cultural Arts on Sat., Jun. 22nd.
The screening, free to the public, will start at 7 p.m.
It is part of a larger series of screenings at the theater that start at 1 p.m.
The video was set for release a couple weeks ago, said Michael Díaz, who created his alter ego,Juan Bago. in 2006.
But Diaz and Oscar Martínez (the man behind the character O) wanted to help promote the United Palace, and its campaign to bring film back to the theater permanently; the theater already has a screen, but needs a projector.
The two have also made their own video in support of the project, and Díaz appears in the campaign’s promotional video on the crowd-funding site Indiegogo.
And so they waited to release the video during the campaign’s 40 days.
“I wanna see my video on a screen 11,285.5 times bigger than my iPhone,” he said.
And on Saturday, he will.
Aside from the Still Here premiere, the duo will also be screening several others, including Dominis in the Heights, Pan con Queso, and the newly released Dominican Problems.
Still Here, a parody of Drake’s Started From the Bottom, feature the two as struggling artists in low-paying jobs. It is meant to show the reality of the performers’ lives as artists, which are not as glamorous as they seem, despite social media fame.
“We started at the bottom, and we’re still here at the bottom,” laughs Díaz.
In one scene, O causes a traffic jam as a frustrated bicycle delivery guy, and the duo also have a stint as parking attendants at a hotel.
During filming, they did not always let on that they were acting.
“Regular customers were thinking that we were employees. We told them we were new—and asked them if we could wash their cars because we really wanted to keep our jobs,” explained Diaz. “There were a lot of fun moments to it.”
Díaz also invited comedian Miguel Pimentel, known for his website That’s Dominican, and sketch comedy team HJTV, whose work will also be screened. There will be question and answer session with the writers and other crew members involved in the production of Juan Bago and O directly after.
The session will be hosted by former Manhattan Times reporter Sandra García.
“We wanna shine a light on them, too. It’ll be a great time to meet a lot of interesting people,” said Díaz.
He hopes other acts can see the United Palace as a venue.
“Anyone who goes to the United Palace will be blown away. Where else would you screen a movie of yours in [the] Heights? This is a really cool opportunity. I can premiere my film in the middle of Washington Heights, with my friends, instead of downtown.”
While many residents of Northern Manhattan have only started visiting the theater, Díaz first basked in its magnificence over ten years ago, when he got his first role as a background actor in Marci X, starring Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans. Wayans played a rapper, and the United Palace was chosen as setting for one of his shows.
Díaz was an audience member.
He had recently moved to Washington Heights from Connecticut.
“Luckily, my first role was two blocks away from my house. I was so blown away by the architecture and the beauty,” he recalled.
“My dream is to film a scene at the United Palace. There is so much to do there.”
For more information on Juan Bago and O, visit their Facebook page, Juan Bago and O.