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Culture / Newsy

A Houston High School Filmmaker Seizes His South by Southwest Moment, Meets With Michelle Obama, J.J. Abrams

BY // 04.28.16

All he needs is one mic, and all he needs is one stage.

DoubleDve is the man with the mic; Gilbert Sosa is the man with the stage.

Sosa, a senior at Episcopal High School, is a member of ETV, Episcopal’s advanced filmmaking course. He directed a short film/music video titled Endeavor by DoubleDve (real name Daniel Vango — hence the Double D. Vango), a student at Lee High school whom Sosa has known for years. The song is from Vango’s album ILL Defined, a self-released mixtape straight out of Houston’s long tradition of underground, DIY hip-hop. After the film was shown to the student body, faculty and staff of Episcopal, Sosa’s teacher/advisor Pejman Milani received word that the video had been accepted into Austin’s South by Southwest music and film festival, a huge coup for a student filmmaker, albeit one with lofty filmmaking ambitions.

Milani submitted the film to the renowned festival without Sosa’s knowledge, and both were shocked to learn that it had been accepted to screen there. “Learning about my first serious project being selected for SXSW was an unforgettable feeling. I was caught by surprise … Since that day I have felt inspired to continue my journey as a filmmaker,” Sosa said.

The prestigious festival undoubtedly opened doors for Vango as well. A Sudanese refugee, Vango comes out of the Gulfton neighborhood on the southside of Houston. “During the process of writing Endeavor and building the mixtape ILL Defined, I devised a plan that would allow my music to reach as many outlets as possible. That plan consisted of self-promotion, performances and shooting music videos with intriguing visual aspects.”

Daniel Vango, a.k.a DoubleDve. (Photo by Gilbert Sosa)
Daniel Vango, a.k.a DoubleDve. (Photo by Gilbert Sosa)

Sosa and Vango, both 18, see the film’s appearance at SXSW, as well as the many networking opportunities the festival presents, as life-changing. Possessing an official festival film badge, Sosa was able to meet with Michelle Obama, as well as hip-hop legend Queen Latifah and Star Wars filmmaker J.J. Abrams.

“After my experience at SXSW, I have returned with a new perspective of the amount of effort it will take in the next few years to get me to where I would like to see myself a decade from now,” Sosa said. Vango shared, “I knew this event was going to be unforgettable. [SXSW] allowed me to interact with a tremendous number of people who shared the same values. Every screening opened doors for connections and ideas.”

South by Southwest has come and gone, but the opportunities for these two unique Houstonians haven’t. Endeavor has been picked up by: The Albuquerque Film and Music Experience Festival, the Boomtown Film and Music Festival (based in Beaumont), The Los Angeles CineFest, the Twister Alley International Film Festival, the UPIKE Film and Media Arts Festival, and the 49th Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival (where it was a Remi Award winner). Sosa recently collaborated with Young Lyric —a Houston emcee who was featured on the Lifetime network’s competition reality show The Rap Game — on her video “Sneak Dissin’“.

Sosa plans to relocate to Los Angeles for the summer to network and experience the heart of the music industry first-hand. Vango has received multiple requests from filmmakers drawn to his unique energy and screen presence.

As for the mentor/teacher who helped shape all of this in the first place? Milani says, “I am very proud and happy for Gilbert … as well as his friend Daniel Vango’s amazing musical and lyrical talents. I know this is just the beginning of a long line of achievements that Gilbert has the potential to accomplish in his future.”

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