About this submission

I wanted to tell a story that makes audiences empathize and appreciate queer characters, as they are often portrayed in stereotypes that negate them from healthy, loving relationships.

In my films, I want to raise consciousness for the LGBTQ+ community’s issues, dreams, stories and realities. All while celebrating the diversity of the collective through beautifully composed images, complex characters and situations audiences can relate to regardless of their background.

Present stage of this work: First draft or cut

Mateo Nikolav is a photographer, director, and producer from Ecuador based in Los Angeles, California. Mateo became passionate about decoding his identity through storytelling from a young age. Relocating to three different countries during his teenage years, he reflected on his emotional growth and appreciation for cultural diversity to fifteen thousand of his followers through the Tumblr blog Lucid Strangers. His self-published content consisted of experimental short films, memoirs and poems that followed Mateo's evolving identity as a queer individual, exploring the self-expression liberties and restrictions that came with every opportunity to live abroad. Losing his parents' financial and emotional support after coming out of the closet in 2018, Mateo moved to Los Angeles where he started working on student and independent film sets as a Still Photographer and DIT. Eager to uplift others like him, Mateo founded Decoded Artists in 2020. An online initiative that supports the professional development of LGBTQ+ BIPOC filmmakers through workshops and career opportunities. Decoded's first "Mobile Filmmaking Masterclass" was a great success, with 15 short film submissions and sponsorship from LumaTouch, Filmic Inc, Moondog Labs and Final Draft Inc. In 2021, Mateo launched Decoded Studio LLC, a creative studio that produces original content and offers marketing services for independent productions and small businesses alike. In his work, Mateo enjoys portraying the collective human experience through photography, film and other collaborative mediums. His craft aims to reconcile the unique and divergent aspects of his identity through visual projects that celebrate otherness, inviting audiences of all backgrounds to come together. more...

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