We had the good fortune of connecting with Javier Chavez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Javier, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
There’s a haunting line in “Providence,” the final track of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s debut F♯ A♯ ∞ that is repeated several times: ‘Where are you going? Where are you going?’ It’s stuck with me since I first heard it in college and I take it literally – it’s a good reminder to ask myself what exactly am I doing with this task, this project, or my life in general. Where am I going? I’ve entertained the notion of getting it tattooed across my right hand, along my wrist or thereabouts, so I can see constantly see it and remember to be on the right path.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’d say what sets me apart and also got me to where I am today is my constant need to contribute, to always look for opportunities to improve on something or share a novel idea that will significant return on investment. I graduated from NYU in 2012 and got a job as a concessionist at Coral Gables Art Cinema about a month later. It absolutely was not where I thought I’d end up but hey, I’m a millennial so it’s typical of my generation. But I gave the job my all and offered suggestions to the higher ups about how to improve our workflow and the like – always within my lane and never overstepping. So I started being promoted year after year and now I serve as Associate Director, where I have a direct hand in the film programming as well as the operations/administrative side. I never thought I’d end up in this position, either, but it opened up a whole new world that I’ve fallen in love with, that of film exhibition. It certainly wasn’t easy and there were some excruciatingly frustrating times but I’ve managed to keep a cool head and rise above it. Part of that has been by learning to pick my battles, how to navigate people, and the importance of taking a deep breath and reciting that refrain, “Where are you going?” And, of course, by having the support of many people not just in the organization but in my personal life!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The food itinerary is easy because there are so many delicious eats in this city – and in fact, I actually have taken visiting friends to these places! I’ll keep it to three: Mr. & Mrs. Bun near the ends of the earth; La Fragua, which hands down serves the best Cuban food in Miami; and ice cream at Lulu’s on Biscayne. Activity-wise, I also have three spots, one of which is probably pretty weird. First is Shark Valley because cycling through the river of grass is calming, almost meditative and I love sharing that experience with friends. Second, is Coopertown Airboat Tours on the Tamiami Trail – not for the tours but for what you can see in the sky after dark: stars! It’s pitch black in that area, away from the awful city lights, so it’s a great spot to catch a meteor shower or planets or creepy splashes in the nearby water that may or may not be an alligator… But my favorite place to take people is the planespotting area next to the El Dorado by the airport. MIA is a major international hub so there are airplanes taking off and landing all of the time, frequently within minutes. It’s another literal manifestation of that creed, ‘where are you going,’ and I love imagining the stories of people on those planes: where THEY are going, what led them to take this flight, what they plan on doing at their destination. It’s also breathtaking seeing these marvels of human engineering taking flight: seriously, go around 5;00 pm when the Airbus A380 takes off, and you’ll wonder how the heck that chonky aircraft can fly.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There’s too many to count! But someone who immediately springs to mind is Humberto Ferre, who’s a librarian at South Miami Senior High, my alma mater. I met him when I was a sophomore or junior and we hit it off instantly thanks to a deep, mutual passion for all things sci-fi. We’d spend countless hours talking about books, movies, TV shows, whatever we could, analyzing the stories, delving into what we felt made them work or not work. Eventually, we launched an after school film club that was poorly attended but the perfect excuse to watch awesome sci-fi films in the school’s auditorium. I have a fond memory of watching the 1960 version of The Time Machine. And the truth is, I probably would not be where I am if not for him because he literally took me to see a film – after graduating college – at Coral Gables Art Cinema, where I eventually applied for a job and worked my way up to Associate Director. So, thank you, Humberto!