Friday, May 30, 2008

Holyywood on the Rio Grande: Indian Jones to new CMI film slated for "Hillywood"

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — It was a very big week for Cruceswood, aka Hollywood on the Rio Grande.
It started with a private screening of “Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” May 22 at Telshor 12, many hours before the “official” movie opening.
The invitation-only event was packed with assorted state dignitaries, NW Mexico Film Commission staffers, regional film liaisons and people from all over New Mexico who had been involved in some way with the long-awaited production.
As fate would have it, I sat next to Brian Foster, manager of the Corralitos Ranch, 15 miles west of Las Cruces one of the films locations. He was able to clue me in when scenes shot in familiar local territory popped up.
I recognized Deming scenes shot at places I’ve visited and covered in the line of duty. Having interviewed the late, great Georgia O’Keeffe in my days with the Santa Fe New Mexican, her Ghost Ranch near Abiquiu was also a familiar sight.
If fact, the iconic fictional archaeologist’s first adventures in “Crystal Skull” took place in a composite Deming-Las Cruces-Northern New Mexico collage of scenery that was supposed to be Area 51, really a remote area in Nevada long rumored to be the site of lots of secret UFO stuff, with a lot of Roswell and Trinity Site atomic bomb stuff mixed in.
The story swiftly moved to locales that were supposed to be London, but were clearly recognizable to me as scenes from Connecticut, another place I’ve lived. I began to feel a synchonicity solidarity with Steven Spielberg, who was clearly doing a career retrospective montage...his latest Indiana Jone epic references everything from “American Graffiti” to “ET” and “Close Encounters.”
So it was an old home week for many of us in the audience. Despite all of Indiana’s derring-do (and it was kind of cool to see senior citizens still flirting and swashbuckling), the biggest applause from this selective audience came during the credits. Everything from the city of Deming to local craft services providers got thunderous ovations.
And rightly so. Great job, you all.
It was a roaring start, but the week’s cinematic adventures were only beginning.
Next up was the private premiere of Shawn Darling’s “Grave Mistake,” May 25 at the Rio Grand Theatre.
Shawn described it as a zombie movie, with scenes filmed in Las Cruces. He’s looking for an independent distribution deal, so maybe the world will soon be able to see zombies cavorting in the City of Crosses.
“We’re trying now to arrange a local showing that will be open to the public,” said Darling, who wrote, produced, directed and did the score for the film.
Finally, erstwhile Las Cruces resident and Oñate High School teacher LouAnne Anne Johnson is back with a new film project. Johnson had already made the big time before she moved here with her bestseller “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” which became the basis for the 1995 blockbuster film “Dangerous Minds,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
Now she’s working with indy filmmaker and Creative Media Institute professor Rod McCall, on CMI’s first feature length film, “Becoming Eduardo,” based on Johnson’s book “Alternative Ed,” which McCall said “is about a kid in danger or becoming a gangbanger who ends up being saved by poetry.”
Kids at Alma d’arte, Las Cruces’ high school for the arts, auditioned this week for parts in the movie, which will be filmed in Hillsboro (beginning to be dubbed "Hillywood" because of an influx of people with movie connections) and other regional locations. McCall hopes to have it ready for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January.
They are looking for help with everything from cars and trucks to fashions. For more information on how you can help with the community-based film effort,keep checking my blog. Go to and click on blog zone and then Las Cruces Style.
And maybe we’ll see you — both in and at — the movies sometime soon.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

No comments: