A Saddleback student’s digital content journey

Mario Rivera on a film set as a behind-the-scenes photographer. Mario Rivera/Courtesy of Mario Rivera

Deep within the Trabuco Canyon, Mario Rivera had a vision for a video he wanted to shoot. So he hopped in his car, took it off the main road and began to do some donuts. 

A few moments later, he lost control of the wheel. His car sputtered out of control and hit a small ditch where his tire flew off.

“That’s when I realized, ‘okay maybe I need to take a step back’,” says Rivera after considering how far he wanted to take his videos. “We didn’t even end up using this video.”

Rivera owns the TikTok account hispanicfilm (@hispanicfilm), which boasts 11.5 million likes and has over 228,000 followers. He’s made videos with artists such as 8raeden, and been on film sets working behind the camera. Making videos since middle school, Rivera didn’t always plan on doing stunts for his own videos- he didn’t even originally plan on making videos. 

“At a young age, I wanted to be an illustrator and an animator for the longest time,” says Rivera. He studied color science and character design in hopes of working with animation. Shortly after, Rivera laid his hands on video editing software and moved his animation hopes aside. “That was the farthest I ever went with illustration and animation.”

The “flower boy” aesthetic is something that Rivera roots his videos in and was something that he admired from a young age. Vibrant colors, captions and music encompass much of the video shorts within hispanicfilm.  

With more and more people attempting to make a name or career for themselves with social media, it can be troublesome to decide whether or not to follow trends or be yourself. Thousands upon thousands of individuals attempt to climb the mountain of success in social media- most of them fall short.  

“If you have a good balance between [following trends and being yourself] I think you could make it work,” says Rivera. Rivera’s adherence to social trends never comes at the expense of his personality. When doing trends, Rivera adds his own flair to his videos to ensure that he remains true to himself and his audience who follow him for his aesthetic. “As long as you have your own flair to it, it will help you in the long run.”

Even though Rivera has been making videos since middle school, he believes that no age is too old to begin making videos for yourself. 

Rivera emphasizes that most people don’t know what to do in the beginning of their lives, but shouldn’t be discouraged by the age at which they start creating content online. He states that a positive mindset and dedication are what need to be at the forefront when pursuing a career in social media. 

Amidst his passion for making videos, Rivera has an alternate job on the side and is a student at Saddleback College. With each commitment eating up time and resources, it’s easy to wonder how Rivera juggles his three obligations. 

“I would surround myself with other people who are into film or have the same goals as me,” says Rivera. Rivera strived to shape a collaborative environment for himself that would benefit his obligations to content creation, school and his job. “Just living within my standards, to put it in short words, is the way that I keep the proper balance.”

Rivera primarily garnered his follower base through TikTok, more specifically through short-form content. One of his most popular series of videos is “la canción de hoy” (the song of the day) which sees Rivera dance and lip-sync the lyrics of the song utilized in the video. “Being able to create a visual that goes along with a song… takes it up a step further,” says Rivera. 

Having established a following in TikTok, Rivera plans on heading to YouTube to establish a new following and focus on long-form content. 

“‘Is it going to be a sustainable community?’ Probably not,” says Rivera when comparing TikTok followers to YouTube followers. Rivera says that the payoff for being successful in YouTube is much more rewarding than being successful in short-form content platforms such as TikTok, saying that when the audience is able to watch a longer video, it’ll be more likely to stick with them. “It could obviously fly over people’s heads… but that does build with them over time, rather than just a TikTok [where] they follow and forget about it.”

Going into the summer, Rivera aims to finish school and continue the pursuit of his dream of working in the film industry. He also wants to broaden his styles of content, while keeping his branded visual style intact, into different types of content such as vlogging and how-to videos. 

Mario Rivera’s TikTok is @hispanicfilm, his Instagram is @marioriverax, and his YouTube channel is mario (marioriverax)