Outsider artist & one-man showcase filmmaker Laz Rojas comes to Night Flight Plus!

By on November 24, 2017

We’re proud to announce that we’ve added some of the short film performances of outsider artist and one-man showcase filmmaker Laz Rojas to our collection of streaming titles over on Night Flight Plus!

Rojas — who was born and raised in New York City —  describes himself as a heterosexual male actor who has portrayed hundreds of characters — both male and female — of all ages and races, in films (and videos) he’s written, directed, edited and produced himself.

If you aren’t familiar with Laz Rojas, we recommend you check out VICE’s excellent documentary on his work!

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Even as a kid, he’d always been drawn creatively to both writing and drawing, but shortly after his parents bought him a a Kodak Ektasound Super 8 movie camera for his eleventh birthday, he knew he’d discovered a new way to express himself.

For the next several years, Rojas wrote and directed short live-action films in which he cast his friends and classmates. He also made made animated movies, for which he usually performed all the voices himself.

As a young man in NYC, he pursued acting, and after occasionally working off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway.

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In fact, Rojas says the only time he’d ever appeared in drag before his one-man showcase female characters was back in 1983, when he appeared as a very effeminate gay transvestite named Belle in an off-off-Broadway production of a play called “Welfare” during a summer showcase at the New York Academy of Theatrical Arts (an alternating nights, he also played a very macho, drug-using street tough named Aldo).

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Then, in the mid-80s, Rojas says he decided to try to break into the movie business, and, like millions of others before him, traveled out west to L.A. to pursue his dreams.

There, he decided, as so many do, that rather than just focus on his acting career, he would begin writing screenplays in which he could attach himself as the writer/director.

Read more about Las Rojas below.

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Some of Las Rojas’s screenplays — both comedies and dramas — had roles he’d written which he knew he could play himself, but there were others, he says, which didn’t have any roles for him to play.

By the early ’90s, he’d decided to film himself performing scenes from his screenplays which he could then use to showcase himself as an actor.

He also knew that it would be a good way to show the depth of his writing and the wide range of characters and situations he’d created.

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It took Laz Rojas six months — from December 1992 to May 1993 — to videotape fifty-two of the best scenes from his screenplays in which he played a total of 102 different characters, both men and women, since his comedy scripts had parts for both.

He taped himself playing all kinds of characters, from a ten year old boy, to a black rap artist, to an exotic dancer, to a sixty year old businessman.

Rojas takes great pains to point out that he’s a straight actor, not a transvestite actor, and doesn’t really know why so many people focus on the female characters he’s created.

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Rojas also shot an additional ten scenes in January of ’94, and painstakingly edited them all together using two VHS tape decks.

He did everything himself, acting as a “one-man movie studio.”

He didn’t have much money to spend on anything — about $500 — and estimates that he spent far more on videotape than he did on costumes and wigs, which were under $100.

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Rojas says it would be difficult for him to single out a favorite character, but if he had to narrow it down to one female and one male character, he says for the female character he’d pick Sonia Marquez, the hot-blooded Latin real estate agent from his comedy A New Life.

It’s one of Night Flight’s favorites too. Rojas portrays a married couple — both the man and woman roles — who have recently relocated to Los Angeles. They have dinner with the husband’s college buddy and his flaky wife. Rojas actually plays several real estate agents, gossiping in the office.

As for the male character he says is his favorite, Rojas picks Mike Masters, the smuggler-turned-resistance leader who tries to procure black market weapons to fend off the alien invasion in his science-fiction trilogy Temporary Heroes.

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Another favorite of ours is Triangle, which Rojas plays a a Hollywood producer with a secret past, haunted by memories of a murder he ordered twenty years earlier, who tries to manipulate a screenwriter who is also involved with his daughter, who just happens to be the son of the man he killed; Rojas plays the screenwriter and his Hollywood agent, who tries to warn him about the producer.

We also liked A Family, which takes place in 1956. Rojas portrays a teenager getting ready for her date with a guy from the wrong side of the tracks who has to deal with her mother’s disapproval.

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While these showcase performances didn’t end up making him a breakout star in the Hollywood studio world, they did earn him something of a cult following in underground film and video circles, particularly in the film community at the University of Texas at Austin.

These performances have grown beyond their intended purpose, developing an audience who weren’t his original target, and now have come to collectively represent a one-man showcase of his various talents.

After you see his short film performances (and don’t miss the bloopers!!), we think you’ll agree, there’s no one else in the world — not even among the hundreds of characters he plays — quite like Laz Rojas.

Watch our entire collection of Laz Rojas performances over on Night Flight Plus!

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, assistant editor for the When You Awake blog, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.