I’m really excited about my next film project, PERDIDO, adapted from a novel by Taos, New Mexico author Rick Collignon. PERDIDO takes place in a small town in northern New Mexico and, like a Steinbeck novel, the characters and setting are equally important in telling the story. Will is a newcomer to Guadalupe, only living in the community for 17 years (many people in Guadalupe claim six or seven or more generations in the area).
He’s been accepted as a resident but still considered an outsider, especially when he learns of the unsolved death, decades ago, of a young woman. He starts asking questions about the case, and the reactions from community members familiar with the case force him to confront his own lingering questions of how much he really is considered part of the community.
Will and the dead woman are Anglo, in a community that is almost exclusively Hispanic and wary of outsiders of any ethnicity. These racial tensions come to the surface as Will begins to dig deeper into the mystery of the young woman’s death. Despite working, shopping, eating, drinking, playing baseball, and even sleeping with the locals for years, he discovers that he is just as much a newcomer now as he was when he first came to Taos. But he is still tolerated and not run out of town in the middle of the night by an armed mob, which sometimes happens in northern New Mexico.
Anyone who’s ever moved to a new town knows what it’s like to adjust to new sights, sounds, smells, traffic patterns, people, and cultures. I’ve moved around quite a bit, growing up in Michigan, living in California, and now New Mexico. I’ve been able to carve out a niche among the creatives here by selling land to fund my independent films. I’ve also been accepted as a member of the Taos community, something that isn’t experienced by every newcomer. Perhaps that’s why PERDIDO interests me so much.
The more I read the novel–and I’ve lost count of how many times that is–the more I see Rick Collignon as the northern New Mexican Steinbeck. Both of their works are genuine, pulling no punches and pummeling the reader with the truth of the human experience, good and bad but always poetic.
I’ve been so moved by the power of the book that I optioned the rights almost immediately. This will be my first movie shot almost entirely in New Mexico, in my adopted home of Taos. I have my ideal cast in mind, and work actively several hours daily to reach out to those actors, some of the biggest performers in Hollywood and around the world.
I envision Arron Paul (Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad) as Will. Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Stand and Deliver, American Me) would be perfect as Telesfor, the wise storyteller. Benicio del Toro (Traffic) would bring Ray to life. I’ve already received a commitment from Sandra Echeverria (Casa de mi Padre, The Bridge, Savages) to play Will’s girlfriend, Lisa. I look forward to sharing any updates with you. In the meantime, have a wonderful day and thanks for reading my latest post!
P.S. You can read more about the book at the Unbridled Books publisher website. Buy the book, read it, and let me know what you think of it!
That’s right, we’re going out into the social media/viral messaging world to raise money to promote our latest film, GHOST PHONE the movie. Five years in the making. Untold human sacrifices. Pain and suffering. I’m cutting my ear off to get this movie out into the world. We’re planning to launch just a week or two prior to Halloween & the Day of the Dead. We’re developing a phone app called Phone Calls from the Dead which when downloaded will allow you to receive one or two phone calls a day from famous dead people giving you advice on your day. It’s a kind of Ghost Phone Oracle combined with a sort of serendipitous cosmic intervention. That’s right, we live in a manic world, where daily we swing up and down emotional/spiritually/financially. And, now we offer you help! Hope! A chance to communicate with your dead grandma.
Let me just say, GHOST PHONE is based on true events! We’re going to be asking all of you to help us spread the word. Some of you may scoff. May be cynical. But, let me tell you a story of when I was ten years old. I lived on Riverside Drive outside of Battle Creek, Michigan. I was a restless, disturbed youth. A chronic criminal, a near professional shoplifter. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Hicks, told my mother at the end of my 5th grade year, that she should flunk me, but she didn’t want me back at the school again for another year of torture to her. So, I was passed on to Highland Junior High. I was troubled. I was walking in my sleep a lot. The phone rang late one night. I heard it but no one else in my family did. I got up and wandered through our brick ranch style house and answered the phone. An old, old voice crackled through the wires, “Jeffrey? Jeffreyyy.” I froze in the dark, my hand trembled so hard I could hardly keep the receiver up to my ear. “Yesss?” I stuttered.
“Jeffrey, you’ve got to stop stealing!” It’s hard to admit, but I peed my pajama bottoms as I stood there listening to my dead grandmother calling me from the grave. “If you don’t stop stealing and smoking cigarettes you’re going to end up in prison!”
Out of the darkness over my shoulder a hand reached down and jerked the ghost phone out of my hand. It was my mother. She put the receiver up to her ear and all she heard was a dial tone. I was crying now. She put the phone back down on it’s base and guided me back to my bedroom. “Jeff, you’re walking in your sleep again,” she said gently, not wanting to wake me up. But, I was awake and somewhere deep down I knew my grandma had reached out from the other side to set me straight. And from that night forth I never stole another thing and I’ve yet to end up in prison.