By E.M. Fredric
In true “Tolucan Spirit,” friend and Tolucan Times publisher Mardi Rustam asked Dylan Thomas Bocanegra to be interviewed because he has watched Dylan grow from a young boy to a vibrant, creative young adult and recent graduate of Art Center College of Design.
Last June, Bocanegra, who grew up in Studio City, became one of only 12 individuals chosen to be in the Art Director Guild’s apprenticeship program. Soon after he worked briefly under Production Designer Andrew Menzies on David Ayers’ latest Netflix movie—Bright—and now he has landed a fulltime job in the art department of American Crime’s Season 3.
Bocanegra started drawing on the walls of the one bedroom apartment in which he was raised by his mother. His love of art propelled his childhood dreams into reality by hard work, sheer determination and the loving support of his “solo” parent. His 6 ½ ft. x 6 ½ ft. mural of the Indiana Jones series to the Crystal Skull (age 17) still hangs at Santa Monica Airport’s private pilot terminal – Atlantic Aviation. His fine art has been shown on both coasts – Miceli’s (Hollywood) and at Museum of Motherhood (M.O.M.) in upper East Manhattan. Commissioned works also hang in private homes.
Bocanegra taught art classes at Aileen Getty’s Homeless Foundation “Gettlove” with love and gratitude to a woman he loves and admires. He says, “I remember after I landed my first job out of high school (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts) on Pretty Little Liars’, my mother said ‘I don’t care where you go – but you are going to college.’ Art Center had announced their Entertainment Design program and I knew I wanted to work in film and TV so the decision was easy – getting there was not – Aileen’s belief in me made that possible. From my acceptance letter to utter exhaustion finishing the program – it changed my life. It was boot camp and gave me a voice – it made me realize no one is going to understand your path but you. Once I recognized this – transitioning from Fine Art/Illustration to Production Design/Art Direction became fluid. I’ve worked as a Production Designer on thesis projects for AFI and USC.”
Production Designers John Shaffner and Michael Whetstone were extremely influential with advice and mentorship. “However, a lot of my success in the field of Production Design/Art Direction would have to be my friends at the Warner Bros. Prop House – Robert Greenfield and his crew; they treated me like a professional the moment I walked onto that lot and were just as excited to work with me and guide me as I was to be there with them,” Bocanegra continues.
He reflected on the current state of the art. “I’m lucky enough to grow up in a time where I really think Production Design is approaching its golden age. You see films like Mad Max or Birdman – the production values of these films tell the stories in ways the viewer may not quite pick up on – but are there to reinforce the story.”
Bocanegra is grateful for those who helped him along the way. “I didn’t make it on my own – I really know that, nobody does,” he admits. “I try to follow what makes me happy. Drawing made me happy so I followed it – which led me to Concept Art – which led me to Production Design and Art Direction. I don’t know what the future holds – but I have a feeling it won’t stop with Production Design. My dream is to have the creative freedom of a Rick Carter or Nathan Crowley, where on one project you’re doing a Western and the next a Space Opera. I want to be able to tell it all. My goal is to remove any and all limitations put upon myself by myself.”
E.M. Fredric is a writer/actor and advocate for worthy causes. Her articles have appeared locally, nationally and internationally. Fredric’s award winning short – “Shorty & Morty” can be viewed online as well as Shorty & Morty: Hollywood @ Steak. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.