Esaú Meléndez - Editor
Aug. 21, 2012 by Nicole V. Rohr
Esaú Meléndez started as an editor at WYCC PBS Chicago in 2005, but he actually contributes many different skills to the station. Whenever he is needed on a shoot, Melendez is there, drawing from training at Columbia College in Chicago, his experience with his independent production company Clandestino Films, and his work on other media projects. He was an editor for Telemundo Chicago for four years prior to joining WYCC, but as his LinkedIn profile explains, he is an “editor, cameraman and everything in between.”
“I do music videos, commercials… [and] documentary work. I have a lot of independent productions,” Meléndez explained. “One of the main things that drew me to this place [WYCC] was [having] a steady income, so I can focus more on personal productions instead of commercials. When I was working as a freelancer, there wasn’t any time to work on personal projects.”
That’s one of the great things about working for WYCC PBS Chicago. Employees here are encouraged to pursue creative projects and learn additional skills sets in the media space. And Meléndez journeyed far to learn this business.
He was born in Mexico City and immigrated to the U.S., to Chicago specifically, when he was 15 years old. He later studied film and video at Columbia College, but found he had a stronger desire to work than to take classes at that time in his life.
“The way I make my decisions… I make decisions [by] what I feel, and I just didn’t feel it,” he said. “And then you know, by heart, I’m a filmmaker, and I’ll continue to be a filmmaker, and I’ll continue to do what I like and what I love.”
While in school, he won an award for the best student film for his project, Escucha, or Listen. In these staff features, we talk often about how quickly life can change in a short period of time. Melendez is a perfect example of that: He is now married with a 2-year-old son and is nominated for an Imagen Award for his first feature documentary, Immigrant Nation! The award ceremony is on August 10, 2010, and Meléndez is taking his biggest supporter as his date.
“Yeah, I’m taking my wife,” he said. “She was very patient and very supportive. She saw everything – my lowest points and my highest points – while making that documentary.”
Meléndez described his lowest point during the production process, when he had a rough cut of the film, but no one would fund him. That also changed very quickly. Latino Public Broadcasting called.
“They told me, ‘Hey, Esau, we are going to fund you!’ And I was like, ‘Yeah! Yeah!’ he said. “I called my wife and I told her, ‘Yeah! We got the funding! We got the money! We got the money! Let’s go out and celebrate!’ And she was like, ‘I don’t think so… I’m starting to have contractions.’
That was the night Meléndez’s son was born, and he jokingly says that having another child is now “on the table for negotiation.”
So, his family is growing and he wears many hats here at the station. Meléndez emphasized again that even though we are all busy, WYCC has a responsibility in the community and that everyone here embraces every opportunity to help.
He said, “I think as a PBS station, and a minority PBS station, WYCC has big potential to represent that [diverse] community, and minorities not just in Chicago, but in the nation. [We tell] the stories that talk about people, and the stories you usually don’t see in commercial television that are important, that are engaging.”