Carlos Torres ’16 Wins Second Emmy for Short Film XIETY

by Annaliese Martinez ’21, College Communications Staff Writer | April 28, 2022

Saint Mary’s Communication alumnus Carlos Torres ’16 has taken home his second Emmy award for his role as editor of his PSA/short film XIETY: ADAA Mental Health Awareness. After transferring from Los Medanos College, Torres started his film career as a student at Saint Mary’s, serving as the coordinator of Creative Multimedia for the Joseph L. Alioto Recreation Center and videographer for the Communication Department. Fresh out of college, Torres started CutFocus, his own video production company based in San Francisco, where he wears many hats as CEO, director, writer, and senior editor. 

“CutFocus has had various documentaries televised nationally and internationally. On top of documentary filmmaking, we also produce commercial, industrial, and narrative work. As of 2022, we’ve been putting a lot of focus toward producing more CutFocus Originals,” said Torres. 

“That Emmy win was such a huge win for our team because it was something that was produced in-house. It was 100 percent an original CutFocus film—written, filmed, and edited.”

XIETY follows main character Val, a young woman struggling through a panic attack during a night out with friends, played by fellow SMC alum and Torres’ wife, Karen Torres ’16. 

For Carlos, exploring the ways people may struggle with anxiety through film is personal. “Anxiety has always been a part of my life,” he shared. “It’s something 98 percent of people never knew I endured until very recently. I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed of sharing. I just didn’t know how to explain it. It’s a sensation so overwhelming that I couldn’t put my experience into words.”

“With the skills I’ve developed in filmmaking, the help of the best production crew I could dream of working with, and my wife, Karen [co-director and lead actress] …, I was finally able to share a visual representation of what I’ve felt on my worst days.”

While XIETY has proven a large success for CutFocus, Carlos also hopes that the film can spark conversations about mental health. The San Francisco–based non-profit Art With Impact has been screening the short film in Canadian public schools to support student mental health through film-based discussions. 

“This film represents those out there who you would never guess have any sort of mental health issues because they are putting every ounce of energy into living a normal life,” said Carlos. “We also hope that XIETY can serve as a tool to educate those that may not understand the intensity some may endure internally during a panic attack.”

Torres said his decision to transfer to Saint Mary’s played a large role in helping him start his own business. He considers Professor Emeritus Ed Tywoniak and Communication Department Administrative Assistant Lori Erokan two of his first sources of inspiration in his filmmaking career.

“Saint Mary’s was the perfect size school for me to grow as an entrepreneur. I chose Saint Mary’s because I wanted to be in a college where I can develop relationships with my professors and feel like I’m a part of a community. Those relationships I developed gave a helping hand when I was in the process of starting CutFocus, and they still keep up with our growth nearly five years later!”


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Annaliese Martinez ’21 was the Staff Writer for the Office of Marketing and Communication.