Dec. 01--Richmond Arquette and Jordana Spiro didn't know what to expect when they signed up to participate in Santa Fe University of Art and Design's "Shoot the Stars" program. And was the pair pleasantly surprised.
"I've worked on a lot of independent films before," Arquette says. "You wouldn't know that these were students who were producing us. It's on par with any other production I've been involved in."
The two actors spent nearly a week with SFUAD students and starred in two short films. "Dead Celebrity" and "Mister Stapleton," which are written and directed by film school students.
Arquette is known for his roles in films such as "Se7en," "Fight Club" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and Spiro for "Trespass" and television shows including "My Boys," "The Mob Doctor" and "Dexter."
The first film shot was "Mister Stapleton," which was written by Baxter Smith and directed by Joshua James.
The film follows a desperate student, Marcia Mulrooney, who is played by Spiro, as she breaks into her professor's house at 3 a.m. to plead for a passing grade -- her ticket to graduation and an internship. Professor Anthony Stapleton, played by Arquette, and Mulrooney engage in a comic battle of wits as the clock ticks toward graduation.
"It was a great opportunity to be a part of," Spiro says. "I really had no idea what to expect from either of the films. The scripts challenged both of us and we had a great time being able to work with such young talent. It's very refreshing to get out of the industry and see what the students are doing."
The other film, "Dead Celebrity," is written by Zoe Dahman and directed by Seth Fuller. It's a story of a lonely young woman, Lauren Jacobs, played by Spiro, who is given the chance to bring one person back from the dead for 24 hours.
She chooses to bring back TV actor Jake Carter, played by Arquette, from her favorite childhood show -- only to discover that the emotional baggage he's carrying is more than she bargained for.
"We put in 12-hour work days on the projects and I can't wait to see them," Arquette says. "It was a great opportunity to be involved in this type of workshop environment."
The event, which is in its second year, has been successful for SFUAD students and Chris Eyre, chairman of The Film School agrees. He says the program allows students to get into a real working environment.
"(It's) is a very unique program," he says. "Our students are writers and directors, crewing up on and even producing these short films. Coupling our students with that level of professional experience and mentorship is priceless."
According to SFUAD, there were more than 120 students who participated in the entire program.
This year also marked the first time that some of the departments have come together to work with each other.
"We're starting to blur the line when it comes to making films," he says. "There's just not one focus. We are able to give the students many avenues to pursue when it comes to film."
Students will continue to work on the two films throughout the next month and they will be screened at SFUAD's annual Oscar gala in February.
CHRIS EYRE on TV: Award-winning filmmaker Chris Eyre will be the focus of NMPBS's " Colores!" at 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6. The first part will delve into Eyre's vision when it comes to making films. Eyre has won the Sundance Filmmakers Trophy and Audience Award, and winner of Best Film at the American Indian Film Festival in the past.
The second part will air on Dec. 13. For more information visit newmexicopbs.org.
SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.
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