Battling culture differences through creativity– an alum’s short film


Jacob Smith
Staff Writer

Released on Feb. 1, 2020, “¡Cóme!” is a short film written by Florida Southern alum Pamela Rodriguez. 

The film follows a 12-year-old Puerto Rican girl named Isabella, who realizes that her culture differs from her classmates after no one eats the traditional Spanish dessert she brought to her school’s Thanksgiving potluck.

“Over the course of the film, she asks herself some questions about her culture and has a conversation with her mom about wanting to make more American foods in the house, specifically Thanksgiving foods, just to feel that she fits in with her friends,” Rodriguez said. “She grapples with the idea of what it means to have pride in your background and sharing that with others.”

Rodriguez originally wrote this screenplay as the final project for her storytelling for the screen class. After much  trial and error, she eventually settled on reflecting on her own experiences for inspiration. 

“On my first day of kindergarten, my mom was saying goodbye and speaking to me in Spanish,” Rodriguez said. “My teacher overheard this and told my mom something along the lines of ‘we’re in America and I was going to need to learn how to speak English.’ I remember that being very off-putting to us both because it wasn’t really the warmest welcome and it made me feel like I couldn’t speak both Spanish and English.”

This moment stuck with Rodriguez and caused her to assimilate more towards American culture and resent her Hispanic heritage. Years later, she realized this incident gave her the opportunity to say something about embracing their culture.

“I was pondering the process of deconstructing that idea of having to be one way or the other, and how I can embrace both my experiences of growing up in Lakeland as well as my Puerto Rican culture at the same time,” she said. “I wanted to see what that could look like and ‘¡Cóme!’ is what it ended up becoming. Isabella doesn’t deal with that specific interaction, but she does experience it in a very passive way when the kids in her class are eating cupcakes and cookies and none of them eat her very traditional Spanish dish.”

This screenplay was never originally planned to be on-screen. The film became a reality after Rodriguez’s professor Matthew Herbertz had realized the script’s potential. 

“I didn’t assume it would become anything more than a class project,” Rodriguez said. “[Herbertz] approached me when I was working at Concord Coffee shortly after I graduated and said ‘What do you think about making this a real film? I have people that would be interested and would love to make this happen.’ And I just told him that I would be cool with that happening, and that’s how everything got started.”

The filming took place over a two-day shoot in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately, once the film was ready to be shown, the COVID-19 pandemic shut everything down. But despite this setback, ¡Come! was a great success. 

“It was overwhelmingly positive, from a community standpoint to the point where I just couldn’t believe that I live here and the people were as amazing as they are,” Rodriguez said. “Lakeland likes to lift people, especially when it comes to creative pursuits and small businesses.”

The film can be found in its entirety on YouTube, as well as on Max. Currently, Rodriguez doesn’t have any projects similar to ¡Come! planned. She does, however, enjoy writing personal essays in her spare time. 

“I really enjoyed the process and I do have some friends in the industry who I admire a lot because filmmaking is a really an arduous process,” she said. “Who knows? Maybe eventually I’ll end up missing it and work on a new project with someone.”


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