By: Nicki Legge
With such an amazing film community here in Arizona, it is so easy to accumulate incredibly talented friends. These are people you know you can always rely on to tackle any project by your side, regardless of how crazy the idea may be. One of the people that I am proud to call my friend and fellow crew mate is Mike Daiz, a man who was on the very first Jump Ship set and has grown with us over the years. Jump Ship recently went through a large transition, one of the main changes being the move away from film challenges toward other ventures. As we’ve been gearing up to take on the biggest project we have ever set our eyes on, we’ve also been working on a strange little short film involving a devious Banana. We knew that we could rely on Mike to help us bring our vision to life, and boy did he rock our socks off. We are proud to name Mike Diaz as our Jump Ship Productions Filmmaker of the Week.
Every filmmaker has an origin story that they hold close to their heart. For Mike, his story begins five years ago with fantasy football and his best friend, Jonathan Levi Mauiri. One day they decided to film a video making fun of their fantasy football league, and they had so much fun that they kept making more. Mike says, “Back then we were using this humongous old school camera; It looked like we had a RPG on our shoulders! The camera had no functioning battery pack so we had to use extension cords to lug it around on our shoots. The quality was horrible, but we made up for it with a hilarious story to tell! We were naturals!”
Mike has always had an affinity for telling stories, using his words to captivate his family and friends by painting a picture with his famous Mike Diaz charisma. He says “Comedy was my medicine, and I loved making people laugh!” The film community was a perfect way for him to exercise his talents. He is absolutely in love with writing, although he says he feels like he has been acting all his life. Mike believes “nothing is more fulfilling than immersing yourself in a role, and shooting the video in your mind of this character’s life!” With that much love for the craft, Mike and Jon decided to build their own production company, A Mexican and a Jew Productions.
With such an amazing name, I had to know just how they got the idea for A Mexican and a Jew Productions. Mike says, “I remember the day it came to Jon, and I. We were trying to think of a name that stands out, and conveys the kind of personalities you were dealing with. Our good friend Chrissy Jensen was on the phone in a meeting at her work, and somehow the phrase ‘Well you are a Mexican and a Jew, right? Why not A Mexican and a Jew Productions?’ We immediately started laughing, and apparently the people in her meeting did too. And so it began!”
A Mexican and a Jew Productions is a company with a lot of talent and even more heart. Mike says “Jon is my brother, the best man I know, and I love him very much. He’s the one that has encouraged me, even when I don’t believe in myself. It’s because of him I believe we can do this!” His favorite part of filmmaking is all of the wonderful people that he gets to share his creativity with. Being surrounded by hard working passionate people who grow to become your friends and family is what he lives for.
Because of his absolute love for film, Mike is an invaluable asset to have on set. He is willing to do any job, no matter how big or small. When we asked him to be a part of our project “Who is the Mannequin?,” he “didn’t hesitate to climb aboard!” Our tight knit crew has grown into a pretty amazing family. As Mike puts it, “This is a crew filed with hardworking people that know how to have fun! It’s in between takes, that’s where you really get to know people!” But aside from having fun and bonding, Mike really stepped up to the plate during this shoot. Not only did he make a darn good dolly grip, but when our boom mic operator had to leave early, Mike took the reins and dominated a position that he had never done before. He says “I’ve never run sound before, so when I was asked I was a bit reluctant. I stepped up to the challenge, learned as much as possible, and believe I did a good job!”
You can see the fruits of all the hard work that went into “Who is the Mannequin?” at the Filmbar Phoenix on July 31st. A Mexican and a Jew Productions also just finished working on a Promo video with the local band, No Gimmick! You can go to the CD release party tomorrow at Pub Rock Live. Not only is Mike a permanent member of the Jump Ship family who also runs his own production company, but he is very interested in working with anyone and everyone in the film community. He says “In Arizona there is strong art culture, where local artist from all walks of life band together to help create, and promote each other’s work. Working with other production companies is not only something I would love to do, it’s also a duty in my opinion. One such production company that has always stepped up to plate and helped us out is Lucky 20 Pictures. Talented, hard working, and lovable group!”
You can find A Mexican and a Jew Productions on facebook, or you can contact Mike via email Here or phone at 480-444-9649. He says “I’m a shake hands, and kiss babies kind of guy; give me a call! Do it!”