By S. Derrickson Moore
LAS CRUCES — Wags have christened us Cruceswood and Hollywood on the Rio Grande, or included us in New Mexico’s statewide designation as Tamalewood.
Maybe we should just stick to Las Cruces ... our own name is becoming synonymous with moviemaking.
It seems like the last couple of years have brought us hot premieres of films full of local spots we all recognize.
Last year’s summer blockbuster with familiar locations was “Indian Jones: Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and this year’s, if the trailers are any indication, will be the new “Transformers” movie ... and a little later, the U.S. premiere of “The Burning Plain.”
While perusing movie trailers online, I’m already catching glimpses of White Sands and Organ Mountains in the distance and there will soon be more where those came from.
There are rumors about possible productions with budgets in the $20 million range whose producers are expressing interest in filming here. No names have been divulged, but we’ll keep you posted.
And as you’ll learn in today’s feature on this page, another three independent films are committed and firming up plans for productions here this summer.
I used to say that just about everyone in Doña Ana County has written a book and many people are working on their second or third. That holds true, and some days, it seems like we’ll soon be able to make similar claims for multi-movie makers.
In fact, if a film crew hasn’t already come to a neighborhood, mall, ranch, national park, military base of scenic mountain vista near you, I’d say it’s just a matter of time.
And don’t worry about dressing seductively and hanging out at whatever the contemporary version of a soda fountain might be, waiting to be discovered. And frankly, I wouldn’t invest a lot of money sprucing up your car or property in hopes your pimped out ride or palatial home will be tapped by movie scouts.
In my experience those movies dudes like us just the way we are: they’re looking for authenticity and often, the more weathered the better. Shabby adobe chic is hot now.
While I was doing interviews on a location shoot for “Traffic,” filmmakers confessed they had chosen Las Cruces International Airport because they couldn’t find any actual Mexican airports that looked battered and “Third World enough” until they discovered our charming, sandblasted, potholed runways.
My son’s band was once tapped for a two-day cameo in a Madonna movie, but what really bought him extended on-set access time was the producers’ choice of his old car, which rated a couple of weeks of on-camera shots, along with access to gourmet craft services meals for all the boys in the band.
Soon, I may have some stories of my own to add to the family filmography.
While I was checking out summer movies being filmed here, Mark Vasconcellos shared the plot for “Beyond,” Rob Walker’s tale about “a down-and-out reporter in a small college town,” looking for a big story. The reporter uncovers a plot to take over the planet by “aliens who cannot take life shape in our atmosphere and have infiltrated the city and have been impregnating local women to produce hybrids.”
Then he made us an offer that we, being bullish on Tamalewood, just couldn’t refuse.
He asked if the Las Cruces Sun-News building could be used as the movie’s newspaper.
I told him the offer couldn’t have come at a better time, and if he’s interested in local extras, he might be able to save some money on makeup, costuming and even special effects, since newsroom staffers Shari Vialpando, Amanda Husson and Brook Stockberger are all expecting babies — all human, rather than alien or hybrid, as far as we know — around the time of the shoot this summer.
Producer Vasconcellos shot back an enthusiastic e-mail:
Now we’re looking forward to our 15 minutes of fame ... or, at least, our building’s moment of glory.
Soon, stardom could come to you, or someone or something close to you. Mark Medoff is seeking an “older RV” to be the “hero car” for his new film “Refuge,” for instance, and you may have just the star vehicle he’s looking for.
You ought to be in movies ... and chances are you will be, if you live in Las Cruces.
It’s just a matter of time. Stick with us, kid, we’ll make you a star.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org