• Essays & Articles
  • My First Film:
    Identifying Nelson/Buscando a Roberto
    (2010 – Present)

    w: Nelson/Roberto  • p: Nelson/Roberto 

    On stage at the #140conf Boston

    Photo by WayneNH

    While my talk was met with a warm reception, our funding efforts shuttered. We got a few early backers, mostly family, and friends, and then the contributions all but stopped. We tried sharing our project page on Facebook and writing emails telling people about the project but seemed to be working. A couple of weeks into our campaign John was contacted by someone who was interested in investing in our film. John and I put our promotional efforts on hold as we worked to get all our paperwork for the investor. Not wanting to disappoint the 50 or so people who had already backed our project, we hoped that the investor would help us close out the Kickstarter campaign by donating the remaining funds. However, with less than two weeks left in the campaign, the deal fell apart, and we were stuck trying to raise $9,000.

    I remember sitting in my living room the Friday before the campaign was going to end feeling utterly hopeless. The deal had taken all of our attention away from the campaign, and now that the investor had backed out, I did not see how we could make up for lost time. That is when something amazing happened, our campaign received a substantial and unexpected donation. After that, more and more people started donating and posting about our film on Facebook. Within six days we had closed the gap, and the project was fully funded. John and I were blown away by the generosity of our friends and were excited to get to work.

    Writers Block

    Once the campaign had officially ended John and I bought some gear and tried to figure out how to start our film. We kicked around a few ideas, but none of them felt right. Then in February of 2011, I got an email inviting me to a historic gathering of El Salvador’s Disappeared Children, taking place in March of that same year. While we had no idea what to expect we both knew this was the place to start our film, so we packed up our gear and flew to El Salvador.

    We spent an incredible week in El Salvador interviewing my family about their experiences during the war and other Salvadorans who had also been forcibly separated from their families as children. We got to meet, and eat breakfast with, the then president of El Salvador, Marico Funez. The highlight of the trip was sitting down with Suyapa Cruz, a civil rights hero who’s court case lead to the creation of the Day of the Disappeared Children. The week flew by in a blur, and we soon returned home to start working on the film.

    After another trip to L.A., and a few months of work we had developed a strong opening to the film, which we debuted at the University of Chicago in May of 2012. By the end of 2012 we had come up with a potential ending for the film, and it felt like we were making significant progress. However, that feeling would not last long. It turned out that creating a compelling narrative was a lot more complicated than we could have imagined. We kicked around many different ways of telling the story and even started a podcast to help us work through our ideas, but nothing seemed to work. We were stuck…

    A lucky break

    By 2015 our inability to crack the story had become a source of frustration for John and I. While we had learned a lot from our podcast interviews and had made progress on the story conceptually, we still struggled to make any meaningful progress on the editing. It was around this time, in April of 2015, that I happened to come across a recently published book called The Story Grid. It sounded like it might be useful, so I bought a copy and began reading.

    I finished the book in three days and immediately sent it to John, it was exactly what needed. The Story Grid laid out all of the structural elements that make up stories and explained the important role that genre plays in crafting a narrative. Over the following two years, John and I studied material and applied the principles to our film. By the spring of 2017, the story had finally become clear to us, and he had used it to developed a detailed outline for our film.

    Currently, we are editing and working towards creating a rough cut, which we will use to pitch studios on helping us complete the movie. While we do not yet have a release date for the film, we are sending out regular updates to our email list. Working on this project has been both incredibly changing and extremely rewarding. I have learned so much about video production, story telling, and the creative process. I cannot wait until I can share everything we have been working on for so long.

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    Nelson/RobertoSeparated from my family during El Salvador's civil war, by death and adoption, I was reunited with them at the age of 16. I do entrepreneurial art projects that are meaningful, relevant, and push me creatively.

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    Adventures in Web Hosting:
    (2016 – Present)

    My Autobiographical Novel:
    Waking From Innocent Dreams
    (2016 – Present)

    Helping Families Reunite:
    The Mama Chila Foundation
    (2015 – Present)

    Get updates about the release of my upcoming book, Waking From Innocent Dreams.

    © Legend - A Handcrafted Misfit Theme



    My name is Nelson de Witt, but I was born Roberto Coto. Separated from my birth family during El Salvador’s civil war, by death and adoption, I was reunited with them at the age of 16.

    I’m a jack of all trades that has done everything from business process design to video production to server administration to film photography. I’ve run, consulted on, and wrote a book about Crowdfunding campaigns. I’ve taught myself everything from Ruby on Rails to narrative story structure.

    What do all these things have in common?

    I’m a skilled problem solver who can tackle complex issues and find solutions that combine art with outcomes.

    20 Years Ago Today

    Chapter I: Reunion

    Ana & Isabel’s Reunion

    Misfit Con: A Home for Dreams, Doers, and Makers

    Why you should support (and share) your friend’s work.

    You are not a failure…

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