About “Becoming Eduardo”
Based on: “Alternative Ed” by LouAnne Johnson, whose bestseller “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” became the 1995 blockbuster film “Dangerous Minds”
Plot: Eduardo, a teen in danger or becoming a gangbanger, ends up being saved by poetry.
Those involved: Independent filmmaker Rod McCall, New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute, producer Brad Littlefield, students at Alma d’arte Charter School for the Arts
Filming: During July in Hillsboro and Truth or Consequences
How you can help:
Several things are needed for the film. See more details in story below. If you can help, e-mail producer Brad Littlefield at email@example.com
• Loan of two RVs (Class A/Class C) during filming July 14 to 28
• New Mexico apparel designers or retail stores to provide wardrobes for young men and women of high school age
• Gas station owners or suppliers to provide gasoline
By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — A best-selling author, a renowned independent filmmaker, local high school students and New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute are among those joining forces to create “Becoming Eduardo,” CMI’s first feature-length film.
The film is based on “Alternative Ed,” a book by former Oñate High School teacher LouAnne Johnson, who now makes her home in Hillsboro. Johnson had already made the big time before she moved to New Mexico with her bestseller, “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” which became the basis for the 1995 blockbuster film “Dangerous Minds,” starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
Johnson is working with indy filmmaker and CMI professor Rod McCall on “Becoming Eduardo,” which McCall said “is about a kid in danger or becoming a gangbanger who ends up being saved by poetry. It’s a great human story.”
A whirlwind production schedule is planned.
“This is a blessed project. Everything has just come together. LouAnne and I met less than two months ago and we’re ready to shoot in Hillsboro and Truth or Consequences in July,” McCall said this week at Alma d’arte, Las Cruces’ charter high school for the arts, where students auditioned for speaking parts in the film.
Actor, playwright and Alma d‘arte’s executive artistic producer, Irene Oliver-Lewis, will portray a ballroom teacher. Other parts are currently being cast in Los Angeles, McCall said.
Johnson wrote the script and two versions of the tale, first published as “Alternative Ed,” she said.
“I used the pen name Alyce Shirleydaughter in honor of my mother, Alyce Shirley, who died from breast cancer in 1999. I self-published three books, including this one, and I donate 25 percent of the proceeds directly to breastcancer.org. Several commercial publishers are looking at it right now and when the book is republished, it will have the new title, ‘Becoming Eduardo,’” Johnson said.
Community help is making the project possible.
“We are very fortunate to have Mark Medoff, the legendary screenwriter and CMI’s artistic director, advise us on our script, especially since LouAnne and I wrote the script in record time. Mark has helped guide us. It’s sort of like painting a big building, and having trusted friends come though the building and point out the spots that you missed. CMI’s director, Jonathan Benson, has guided us,” and helped with CMI student assistants, McCall said.
In a phone interview from Los Angeles, producer Brad Littlefield of Open Range Pictures said filmmakers are hoping for community help with the low-budget production.
“What we need most would be two RV owners (individuals or a dealership) who would be willing to provide two motor homes (Class A/Class C) with air conditioning, to be used as cast and crew hospitality lounges during the shoot, July 14 through 28. Anyone willing to provide us with use of an RV will receive, in addition to film credit, on-screen roles as extras (if they or their children or grandchildren would like the exposure) as well as an afternoon on set and lunch with the cast and crew,” Littlefield said.
Fashion help is also needed.
“I’m very eager to work with and showcase local New Mexico apparel designers or retail stores who would like to feature wardrobes for young men and women of high school age. Also, any local gas station owners or suppliers who would be willing to provide gasoline for our production would be appreciated while we cover the vast miles of roads of New Mexico this summer. It is difficult to make movies in New Mexico these days with the astronomical costs of fuel,” he said.
If you can help, e-mail Littlefield at firstname.lastname@example.org
Their goal is to have the film completed and ready this fall and to qualify for acceptance in the Sundance Film Festival in January, said McCall, a writer and director who has had two other films featured in the prestigious film festival. His credits include “Slice & Dice,” “Lewis & Clark & George,” “Paper Hearts,” “With Open Arms” and a teleplay for “Red Shoe Diaries.”
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com