Aug. 24--LAS CRUCES >> If you've noticed some unusual activity in La Mesa or Mesilla this weekend, you may have stumbled upon final shoots for a feature film.
The cast and crew of "Jim" will be shooting "dance hall scenes with a band and lots of extras, probably about 40" at the Mesilla Community Center on Sunday, according to Mark Steffen, one of the stars of the full-length film.
The plot of the "dramedy" combines some uniquely New Mexican-Borderland themes, focusing on an extra-terrestrial alien who is mistaken for a resident of Mexico who's crossed the border illegally.
Steffen describes his character as a "redneck" who challenges the Borderland ET, "Ji,." played by Gabriel Chavira.
It's a joint production of Blowing Hat Pictures and New Mexico State University's Creative Media Institute.
"This will be CMI's first full-length feature film," said Rod McCall, who is the film's writer and director, and also is coproducer with Ned Judge and David Edwards.
"The film's theme is tolerance and there are immigration issues, too. Jim is an alien from another planet who comes to Earth on an anthropological study trip. He shows up looking like a Mexican, two miles from the border, where there is a case of mistaken identity. The redneck played by Steffen is on the lookout for Jim's character,"
The production involves a cast and crew of about 35 and also stars Holly Riddle, who portrayed the teacher in the multi-award-winning film "Becoming Eduardo," along with Melissa Chambers, Nicole Bartlette, Grace Marks, Eric Young, Basin Pina, Robert Dean, Mike Wise, David Edwards, Daniel Delaney, Richard Rundell, Mark Vasconcellos, Delana Michaels, Gail Wheeler, Marcela Salmon, Jack Rokowski, Steven Kaeppler, David Reyes and Orlando Antonio Jimenez.
Stephen Griffin is the film's editor, with visual effects by Derek Fisher and production design by Jazmin Harvey. Dale Sonnenberg is director of photography. Giovanni Durst is in change of music.
"There will be a lot of original music and local bands featured. This film is very much about this place: Southern New Mexico and the border. For the last two weeks, we've been shooting all over this area, in an apartment complex and pecan orchards, finishing up in La Mesa on Friday and Saturday and Sunday in Mesilla," McCall said.
He hopes to complete post-production of the film by November or December.
"Then we're hoping to take it to some major festivals, like Sundance or Tribeca," McCall said.
S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450
(c)2013 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
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