My friend Elisar Cabrera, who has died aged 49 of cancer, was a film producer, director, web series pioneer, video journalist and wrestling producer.
I first met Elisar in 1994 at the New Producers Alliance, an eclectic mix of young film-makers. Despite his young age, Elisar had an immediately striking assurance and gentleness that marked him out from his peers.
Born in London, Elisar was the son of the author Caroline Kennedy and the artist Ben Cabrera. He went to St Paul’s school, and would travel to LA during school holidays to help out on film productions, including Cool Blue (1990), which was produced by his cousin, Cassian Elwes.
Although his family came from a film-making tradition (his uncle Elliot Kastner had produced Where Eagles Dare), Elisar found his own way into the business. He lived in LA in his early 20s and worked on the The Man With Three Arms (1991, released in the US as The Dark Backward) – his duties included helping James Caan rehearse his lines – and The Chase (1994). Although he had further opportunities in the US, he wanted to help young British independent film-makers and became heavily involved with the New Producers Alliance in the UK.
He directed his own low-budget films, Demonsoul (1995) and Witchcraft X: Mistress of the Craft (1998), and he and I collaborated on Virtual Terror (1996). But Elisar’s interests went far beyond horror films and he worked as a film sales agent, while reviewing movies for the Sci-fi channel and creating the web series Those Video Guys.
Elisar had a passion for pro wrestling and helped revive the British wrestling scene in the late 90s. As co-owner of the Frontier Wrestling Alliance, he brought a new wave of independent US wrestlers to British fans, staging and promoting live shows all over the UK. His mother recalls “stumbling over their immense bodies that slept on my living room floor and on my sofas” and carrying back the championship belts from the US in her luggage.
He also reintroduced wrestling to TV, writing and producing Revival: The Search for the King of England for Bravo (2002). This is where he met the writer Lisa Gifford. They married in 2006 and collaborated on many projects including the award-winning web series 3some (2013).
Later, working at Raindance, Elisar was a huge advocate of online filmmaking, founding the Raindance Web Fest, the UK’s first festival for independent digital and web series and co-founding Digital Creators UK. He will be remembered by many young film-makers for his encouragement and advice on all aspects of film-making.
His many feature film producing credits include Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. (2014), Ibiza Undead (2016) and The Bromley Boys (2018). Elisar was a passionate believer in the EU and many political causes. One of his final projects was Postcards from the 48% (2018), made by and featuring those who voted Remain.
Elisar is survived by Lisa, his parents and his sisters, Mayumi and Jasmine.