By day, Derrick Perez of Lithia is a certified Guardian ad Litem for the 13th Judicial Circuit and works with more than 17 children in care. He also works as a family coach with Finally Home Adoption Agency and has done contract work with the Sylvia Thomas Center as well as Child Protective Services and Safe At Home PASCO. By evening and weekends, depending on production scheduling, he is a film director, producer, writer and actor.

Perez made his directorial debut on July 14 at Xscape Theatres Riverview 14 with the release of his new film, Black Sai.

“As a young Tampa native, I have made filmmaking my passion; that started with my younger self watching the ‘behind the scenes’ content of my favorite films,” Perez said. “At the age of 23, I already have over a decade of experience shooting multiple commercials, documentaries, features and short films.”

Black Sai is about a very young Marissa Vasquez, who is tragically orphaned when two men break into her home and gun down her family. She is immediately filled with feelings of revenge and questions.

“I hope to make a difference through my storytelling and other creative works,” Perez said. “I even founded my high school’s first film club, which has already inspired other young creatives. I am well-versed in screenwriting, shooting video and graphic design and can manage any project, big or small.”

This film brings awareness to human trafficking and tackles the issue of overcoming trauma.

“What I like most about this film is the team of individuals behind it. We are a massive group of minority filmmakers in the area coming together to make opportunities for ourselves to grow and tell bigger stories. My hope for this film is to launch my new universe that I am building as well as build a fanbase in the community and bring more film and television opportunities to the Tampa Bay area,” said Perez.

Perez’s film brings awareness to human trafficking and tackles the issue of overcoming trauma.

“What I like most about this film is the team of individuals behind it,” Perez said. “We are a massive group of minority filmmakers in the area coming together to make opportunities for ourselves to grow and tell bigger stories. My hopes for this film is to launch my new universe that I am building as well as build a fan base in the community and bring more film and television opportunities to the Tampa Bay area.”

If you’d like to learn more about Perez’s film, Black Sai, visit www.gotchafilms.com.

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Libby is a writer for The Osprey Observer/The Christian Voice. She started as an intern in 2009 and upon finishing her internship, she was asked to stay on as a permanent writer for both papers. Libby lives in Brandon with her two rescue dogs, Olive and Bogey.