The entire film was shot on location in Miami and at Williams Boxing Gym in Long Beach California in a short 15 days,
Some might say it’s a Latino version of “Rocky.” Kid from the wrong side of the tracks – the obvious underdog - fights his way to the top.
But Orlando and co-writer/director Kenneth Castillo carefully crafted this story with an unusual twist that sets it apart from all other "Rocky-like" flicks.
While Emilio is “duking it out” with his opponents in the boxing ring, an even more intense battle is raging in his mind.
The young boxer is bipolar, but with the help of his crisis counselor (played by Danny Trejo) he overcomes this hurdle as he reaches for top honors as a Golden Gloves contender.
The 25 year old Orlando told me that his interest in filmmaking was spawned when he worked in Miami (his birthplace) as an assistant cameraman for the Spanish network Univision.
Others recognized his talent, but apparently there was a deep desire burning inside him to be more, and to be the best.
Fighting against what might be considered insurmountable odds, much like the character Emilio, Orlando refused give up, and even today, he refuses to be just “mediocre.”
Orlando, who attended the same school as Andy Garcia, said “I told my grandmother that Andy Garcia isn’t going to big the biggest name that graduated from Miami Beach Senior High School.”
The determined young man proved to be as talented in front of the camera as he was behind the scenes when he was asked to perform in an impromptu skit on "Sabado Gigante” before a live audience.
"With that," he said, “I caught the acting bug.”
So he packed up and moved to New York for two and a half years of intense training and studying.
Next stop - Hollywood.
Orlando loves watching movies and certain actors plying their craft, but he said no one in particular inspired him or mentored him. He said, “I am self-driven and motivated.”
“As far as a character role model though,” this amazing man of Cuban and Colombian descent said, “It would be my grandmother, her qualities. She’s very giving… but the most important quality, more than anything, is her passion.”
That passion is evident in Orlando’s life.
He says he hopes the movie “Counterpunch” will not only entertain, "but will break down barriers for those struggling to find their place regardless of their inadequacies or obstacles in their lives."
Orlando said that he is not a writer. He said, “I wrote from the heart.”
When asked how close this mirrored his life, he said, “Most of it is real.”
He said that a week before filming, he decided take out the antagonist – “a really bad guy.”
“Instead,” he said, “I wanted Emilio fighting something else. Something within him.”
That’s when Orlando says he “added the mental illness.”
Orlando plans to focus on television in the immediate future, but his desire is to eventually own his own production company.
“Counterpunch” set to be released in North America by Lionsgate on DVD and VOD (video-on-demand,) Tuesday, January 15, 2013, may be the film that delivers that knockdown needed to propel Orlando to that next level.
The movie is rated R by the MPAA for language, violence, sexual content and drug use.
Check it out – next Tuesday!
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