Read more about it in this recent update of 2008 film projects in our region (southern New Mexico.)
• “The Burning Plain”
Plot: “The Burning Plain” explores the mysterious connection between several characters separated by time and space: Mariana, a 16-year-old girl trying to put together the shattered lives of her parents in a Mexican border town (Las Cruces), Sylvia, a woman in Portland who must undertake an emotional odyssey to make up for a sin from her past, Gina and Nick, a couple who must deal with an intense and clandestine love, and Maria, a young girl who helps her parents find redemption, forgiveness and love.
Director: Guillermo Arriaga
Stars: Academy Award winners Charlize Theron & Kim Basinger
Producers: Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, 2929 Productions
Release date: Venice Film Festival, August
• “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”
Principal locations: White Sands and southern New Mexico
Plot: The battle for Earth has ended but the battle for the universe has just begun. After returning to Cybertron, Starscream assumes command of the Decepticons, and has decided to return to Earth with force. The Autobots, believing that peace was possible, find out that Megatron’s dead body has been stolen from the U.S. Military by Skorpinox and revive him using his own spark. Now Megatron is back seeking revenge and with Starscream and more Decepticon reinforcements on the way, the Autobots with reinforcements of their own, may have more to deal with then meets the eye.
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Ehren Kruger, Alex Kutzman
Producer: Michael Bay
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Jon Voight, Rainn Wilson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, and Matthew Marsden
Company: Dream Works, Paramount Pictures
Planned release date: June 2009
Note: The first “Transformers” film, which featured extensive location shooting at White Sands National Monument and Holloman Air Force Base, grossed more than $700 million worldwide.
Principal locations: Includes Southern New Mexico
Plot: Nathan Del Amico is a brilliant New York lawyer who leads a life of professional success. His private life is pretty dismal since he divorced Mallory, his only love..until he meets Garrett Goodrich, a mysterious doctor who introduces himself as a “messenger.” He claims that he can sense when certain people are about to die, and that he is sent to help them put their life in order before it's too late. Though he doesn't believe the doctor, events in Nathan's life slowly make him think he's not long for this world.
Director: Giles Bourdos
Writers: Michel Spinosa, Giles Bourdos
Stars: John Malkovich, Romain Duris, Joan Gregson, Evangeline Lilly
Planned release date: December, 2008
• Year One
Principal locations: New Mexico, including White Sands
Plot: Zed (Jack Black) and O (Michael Cera) search for the meaning of life in a comedy set in Biblical times.
Director & Writer: Harold Ramis, Olivia Wilde
Producers: Harold Ramis, Judd Apatow
Stars: Jack Black, Michael Cera
Company: Apatow Productions
Planned release date: June 19, 2009
• “AH-HOS-TEEND (Retired)”
Principal locations: Las Cruces, Southern New Mexico
Plot: (Source www.moltenpictures.com/retired)Where do the spirits go when they are no longer remembered? And who shepherds them back to their native land? In a world where gods still live and die among men to explore questions of individual belief and cultural identity as well as the mystery and meaning of faith, two men are revealed to be much more than they initially seem. Nameless, a young Native American man is obviously lost and searching to understand who he is, as well as remember his name and his purpose in living. This quest begins at the Glittering World Casino and moves to the Running Indian truck stop nearby. There he meets Pete, who appears to be little more than an old man as lost as Nameless. But Pete is hardly lost, and knows the true nature of what Nameless is, and what he is really searching for. By the end of the film both Nameless and Pete find what they are looking for in the strangest of places.
Directors and scriptwriters: Chris Kientz and Shonie De La Rosa
Producers: Doña Ana Community College
Funded by: National Geographic and the Smithsonian Institute
Stars: Ernie Tsosie and Gerald Vandever
Crew includes: Film makers Antonio Hernandez, Bill McCamey and Mark Vasconcellos, 20 DACC students, special effects by Aaron Berger
Planned release date: Fall, 2008 for entry in Sundance Film Festival
• They Can’t Be Stopped”
Locations: Las Cruces region, Deming, Albuquerque
Plot: Synopsis. One night, one town must deal with an epidemic of deadly zombies set on devouring the world.
Writer: Mackenzie Ridgeway
Producer/Director: Jaron Whitfill
World premieres: Around Halloween in Las Cruces and Albuquerque
• “Becoming Eduardo”
Principal locations: Hillsboro and Truth or Consequences
Plot: Eduardo, a teen in danger or becoming a gangbanger, ends up being saved by poetry.
Writer: LouAnne Johnson, whose bestseller “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” became the 1995 blockbuster film “Dangerous Minds”
Director: Rod McCall
Producer: Brad Littlefield
Stars: Include Julian Alcarez, Gary Perez , students from Alma d’arte Charter School for the Arts, as well as CMIstudent crew
Planned release date: Fall, in time for Sundance Film Festival release
• “Grave Mistake”
Principal locations: Southern New Mexico
Plot: When Alex King finds the people around him are turning into mindless Flesh-eating zombies, it’s up to him and his companions to fight their way to the National Guard Armory and to find Alex’s missing mother before they become LUNCH!
Writer, Director, Producer, Music, Monsters & more: Shawn Darling
Local cast and crew
Company: http://www.gryphonseggproductions.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (575) 521-9882
Planned release date: Maxim Media International and Brain Damage Films release DVDs nationally on Dec. 2
• “Red Sands”
Principal locations: Chihuahuan Desert and Las Cruces
Plot: In this monster movie, troubled kids sent to a survivalist camp have one last chance of getting it right, but after coping with the desert, wild animals, and drug dealers, just when they think they’re safe...monsters appear.
Director, writer, music, etc. Shawn Darling
Crew includes DACC film tech students.
Planned release date: Not yet set
• “A Road to Paris”
Principal location: Las Cruces
Plot: Sexually starved Corrine Biggs, out looking for love in all the wrong places, accidentally discovers her pastor husband's dirty little sins.
Writer/Director: Constance Haspopoulos
Original music by David Kelly, University of New Mexico faculty
Producers: CMI for a short film production class of Mark Medoff.
Stars: Beth LeBlanc
Planned release date: August, 2008
Hot sources for film aficionados
• Las Cruces Film Office
Who: Crystal Downs, Las Cruces Film Liaison
Where: Creative Media Institute, Room 168 Milton Hall, NMSU
Mailing address: Las Cruces Film Office, MSC-3 CMI, New Mexico State University, P.O. Box. 3001, Las Cruces, NM 88003
Info: (575) 646-6360, (575) 571-1229, e-mail email@example.com, Fax (575) 646-1741
• New Mexico Film Office
Who: Lisa Strout, Director, Jennifer Schwalenberg, Deputy Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where: 418 Montezuma Ave., Santa Fe, NM 87501
Info: email@example.com, (505) 476-5600, 800-545-9871, Fax 505-476-5601
• Creative Media Institute
Who: Jonathan Benson, Program Director
Where: 172 Milton Hall, New Mexico State University,
Info: cmi.nmsu.edu ,(575) 646-5671, (800) 821-1574, Fax: (575) 646- 6321
# Milton Hall 172
• DAAC Media Tech Training Programs
Who: Rebecca Congs, Digital Imaging and Design, department chair
Where: Doña Ana Community College, Las Cruces
Info: 527-7573, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://dacc.nmsu.edu
By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Transformers, zombies and monsters. A teenage poet tries to make sense of the world. A troubled young man and a shaman search for the meaning of life. Two guys embark on a comedic quest in Biblical times.
And it’s all happening in our territory.
It’s shaping up as a big year, here in Hollywood on the Rio Grande.
From major big budget movies to creative indy and student films, there’s so much going on that there’s a good chance that a movie crew may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you, if it hasn’t already.
“The Burning Plain,” wrapped local shoots in December and earlier this year. Las Cruces and Portland, Ore., were primary locations for the film, which stars Academy Award winners Charlize Theron and Kim Basinger.
Diane Slattery, a publicist and assistant on the film, said “The Burning Plain” is expected to be finished “or at least a version of it will be finished” in time for a showing at the Venice Film Festival in August.
The plot focuses on a mother, Gina, portrayed by Basinger, and her daughter Sylvia, (Theron) who try to form a bond after the young woman's difficult childhood.
White Sands and southern New Mexico will again be principal locations for the film producers of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” The first film in the series, which featured extensive location shooting at White Sands National Monument and Holloman Air Force Base, grossed more than $700 million worldwide.The current production has been preparing in Alamogordo since April and filming is expected to begin this fall. It’s slated to hit theaters next summer. According to www.imdb.com, the cast includes Shia LaBeouf, Megan Fox, Jon Voight, Rainn Wilson, Josh Duhamel, John Turturro, Tyrese Gibson, and Matthew Marsden.
Comedic superstar Jack Black and Michael Cera just finished shoots in White Sands for “Year One,” a buddy quest comedy set in Biblical times.
What’s the big attraction? Producton companies from around the world come seeking our unique and diverse locations. Resources and trained students emerging from Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University and Doña Ana Community College’s Digital Video Project & Media Technician Training Programs are another lure, along with New Mexico Film Office financial incentives.
“The incentives are the No. 1 reason more media projects are coming here. New Mexico is now the third most desirable place for companies to make movies, after Los Angeles and New York. We have fabulous locations and infrastructure and a great relationship with other film offices in the state,” said Crystal Downs, Las Cruces Film Liaison, who reported this week that she has been doing some scouting for interested parties and may soon have some announcements about additional projects coming here.
Jennifer Schwalenberg, Deputy Director of the New Mexico Film Office noted that the John Makovich movie, ‘Afterwards’ did some location shoots in Southern New Mexico and a London production company is filming the David Parker Ray documentary in Truth or Consequences, scene of Ray’s crimes.
She said that a reality TV show, “Man vs. Cartoon” is filming this summer at Very Large Array, about 50 miles from Soccorro.
Several indy films are in production in Southern New Mexico, too.
Filming in Hillsboro and T or C this month is “Becoming Eduardo,” CMI’s first feature-length film. It’s based on “Alternative Ed,” a book by former Oñate High School teacher LouAnne Johnson, whose bestseller, “My Posse Don’t Do Homework,” 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 the film, which McCall said “is about a kid in danger or becoming a gangbanger who ends up being saved by poetry.”
The cast includes students from Alma d’arte, Las Cruces’ charter high school for the arts and its executive artistic producer, Irene Oliver-Lewis.
Producer Brad Littlefield of Open Range Pictures had praise for the company and crew.
“LouAnne Johnson is a lovely person to work with. Everything is going extremely well and there’s a lot of positive energy here,” Littlefield said.
The crew hopes to have the film completed and ready this fall to qualify for acceptance in the Sundance Film Festival in January.
It’s a goal shared by several independent film makers in the region, many of whom are working with CMI and DAAC students.
Writer and director Constance Haspopoulos is finishing “A Road To Paris,” produced by CMI for a short film production class of Tony Award-winning playwright and Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Mark Medoff. Also aiming for the Sundance Film festival is “AH-HOS-TEEND (Retired)” a spiritual quest movie filmed on locations in Las Cruces and Southern New Mexico by writers-directors Chris Kientz and Shonie De La Rosa.
Writer Mackenzie Ridgeway and producer and director Jaron Whitfill chose locations in Las Cruces, Southern New Mexico and Albuquerque for their thriller, “They Can’t Be Stopped,” set for world premieres around Halloween in Las Cruces and Albuquerque.
Could Las Cruces become the living dead epicenter of the planet? Believe it or not, “They Can’t Be Stopped” is one of two zombie films made here that are slated for 2008 release.
Shawn Darling’s “Grave Mistake” had a private premiere here and has just been picked up for national distribution by Maxim Media International and Brain Damage Films.
“The official release date for the film to DVD will be Dec. 2,” said Darling.
Darling’s Gryphon’s Egg Productions has just completed another deal with the same distributor for “Red Sands,” a monster movie set in a a survivalist camp for troubled kids that is currently being filmed in desert locations around Las Cruces.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at email@example.com