Catalans Abroad

Mireia Vilanova. marcela topor.

is a Barcelona-born, LA-based producer working in film, TV and digital media. She has led numerous projects in the US and Europe that have screened at top-tier festivals such as Tribeca, the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, Outfest and Palms Springs ShortFest, among others. She is currently in pre-production on her debut feature, I Live Here Now, directed by Julie Pacino

City of opportunity

Why did you leave Catalonia?
I have wanted to work in entertainment ever since I was a child, and growing up in Barcelona, that was obviously never a very realistic dream. After finishing my undergraduate degree at Pompeu Fabra University, I received the La Caixa Fellowship to do a Master’s in the United States, and I jumped at the opportunity. Once I got the chance to start working and my career took off, I knew I had made the right choice and I’ve been here since 2018.
Why did you choose Los Angeles?
As a film producer, moving to Los Angeles for work was a no-brainer. It’s a hyper competitive city in the sense that everyone has a similar dream, but the amount of opportunities is like nowhere else.
So you are happy with the job opportunities you found in Los Angeles?
Absolutely! It hasn’t been easy, particularly since immigration always adds hurdles, but I’ve been able to work on projects I am extremely proud of, and most importantly, I have been given the tools to do my job properly. I’ve also been able to learn a lot from some of the projects I have produced here, not just from a logistics perspective, but also culturally. A lot of the work that I do is related to diversity, and that has shaped me a lot as a human and as a professional picking projects.
What projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently in pre-production on the live action feature film I Live Here Now, which is actually my first feature as a producer. It’s quite a challenge, especially in a Covid world, but the team is fantastic and we’re looking forward to seeing it come together. At the same time, I am also actively managing several animated projects for a variety of clients, which is a great balance.
What do you think is the best thing about living there?
Los Angeles is a fairly difficult and hostile city, but once you get used to it you realise that the amount of leisure options available can’t really compare to Barcelona. If you are proactive about it, you may never be bored. To me though, the best thing about working here is the ability to further develop my career.
What would you most like to change?
Los Angeles is not a walkable city, nor a city with an efficient public transportation system, so that is obviously something that I’d like to change. Homelessness is also a huge problem in the city due to the lack of a robust welfare system in this country and now that the mayoral election is coming in early November, I hope more resources are spent giving the unhoused community the resources they need.
What is the best experience you had in your adoptive country?
My first time premiering a project at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York - one of the biggest film festivals in the United States and the world. I’ve been lucky to screen projects for the past two years - There are Bunnies on Fire in the Forest in 2021 and 100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu - but being in New York in June of 2021, just as people were getting the Covid vaccine and the world was slowly reopening, was a fantastic experience. This was the first major US festival to go back to an in-person edition, and being able to gather with friends again made us all so happy to be alive and together.
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
Absolutely! If there was a chance to work on an interesting project or for an interesting company, I’d be back in a heartbeat! There’s no place like home!

Los Angeles United States

Some Suggestions

Where are the best places to stay?
If you like the beach, Santa Monica is a good choice, and it feels more Mediterranean than the rest of LA. Personally, I usually recommend West Hollywood, as it’s a walkable neighbourhood with lots to do and is very centrally located.
What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?
Santa Monica, Venice Beach and the Venice Canals are a must, and then some of the more touristy areas like Hollywood and the Walk of Fame – which I personally think is terrible – and Beverly Hills. If you want to do something special, I would suggest going to a sporting event(baseball or basketball), catch a movie or a concert.
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
If visitors have more time I would suggest they rent a car and explore everything Southern California has to offer – San Diego, Santa Barbara, Palm Springs are all within a three-hour drive.
Are there any places to avoid at all costs?
I’d say the general Hollywood area, although if you’ve never been to the Walk of Fame you should go for like five minutes, just to cross it off your bucket list. And in general, I’d recommend people be aware of their surroundings wherever they are – Los Angeles is probably more unsafe than the majority of cities in Catalonia.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
So much to choose from! For a centrally located spot with California flare and good vibes, Great White in the Larchmont Village. For ramen, Slurpin’ Ramen or Silverlake Ramen. For Korean tofu stew, Surawon Tofu House. And for some Old Hollywood glamour, the Cabana Cafe at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And for a special dinner for two?
Openaire at the Line Hotel is a great spot. The restaurant is inside a greenhouse, but there is also outdoor seating.
When is the best time of year to visit?
I’d say sometime in May or June. July and August are super busy, and September is the hottest month of the year in Los Angeles.
What is the area’s best kept secret?
I don’t know if it’s a secret, but Los Angeles is surrounded by some many different landscapes just a “short” drive away: There’s the ocean, mountains (where you can even ski in the winter), arid desert, dunes…
Sign in. Sign in if you are already a verified reader. I want to become verified reader. To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader.
Note: To leave comments on the website you must be a verified reader and accept the conditions of use.