In today’s world, most independent films aren’t able to achieve independent distribution directly with an actual theater, but Mission Park is the proven exception. AMC Theaters loved writer/director Bryan Ramirez’s film so much that they decided to distribute the film independently in several of their big city theaters.
Mission Park will be released in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago on September 6th, 2013. The film has already won the Best Narrative Feature, Best Direct and Best Acting Performance (Walter Perez) awards at this year’s Boston International Film Festival and the Special Jury Prize at the World Fest Houston International Film Festival.
Mission Park stars Jeremy Ray Valdez (Walkout), Walter Perez (The Avengers), Fernanda Romero (Drag Me to Hell), Joseph Julian Soria (Crank: High Voltage, Filly Brown), and Wil Rothhaar (Battle Los Angeles).
Written by Bryan Ramirez and produced by Spirit Award Nominee Douglas Spain, Mission Park tells the story of the ambitions of four childhood friends who land on opposite sides of the law. Rookie FBI agents Bobby (Valdez) and Julian (Rothhaar) must go undercover to face their hidden pasts in an attempt to bring down their “best friends’” (Perez, Soria) criminal organization. The film also features performances by Vivica A. Fox, Will Estes and Sean Patrick Flanery.
Although made up of a predominantly Latino cast, it’s the storyline of Mission Park that takes center stage. One that will keep you on the edge of your seat right to the very end. It’s a testament to Ramirez’s creativity and the ambitious mind of Spain in helping to bring the vision to life. Mission accomplished!
I spoke with Spain about Mission Park and the film’s AMC distribution. He also lets us in on a surprise announcement for the people of San Antonio (where Mission Park was filmed).
How did you get involved with Mission Park?
I’m originally an actor and was working on a film in San Antonio several years ago when Bryan approached me with the script. It immediately caught my attention and after I read it, I fell in love with it. The fact that he had written these wonderful, rich characters that were both American and Latino just inspired me. It’s a rare piece of material that doesn’t come around very often in Hollywood. I gave Bryan a letter of interest as an actor and asked him to give me a call when he was ready to move it forward.
Unfortunately, he didn’t have a producer at the time, so the script sat around for a while. I had already done a few years of “behind the scenes” work producing and directing my own short films and since I really loved the piece and wanted to help Bryan execute his vision, I said “If you’re willing to give me a chance to produce, I’ll run with it!” And I’ve since been running with the script, story and movie all the way to the theaters on September 6th.
What are some of the challenges of being a producer as opposed to an actor?
There are so many because as a producer, you’re overseeing every single department. From casting to wardrobe to even the locations where you shoot. I already had experience with that from doing short films, but this was a hundred times more than what I had done previously. Doing those short films prepared me for what I had to do for this one. It came very second-hand, since I already had those skills in me.
What was the filming process like?
I loved being on set. The energy we created was amazing. We had a lot of wonderful moments and an amazing bond with the cast and crew. The thing is, we were all there collaborating on a movie to entertain the world, so we should have fun doing it.
How would you describe the story of Mission Park?
It’s a story between good and bad and the choices that we as individuals make in determining which path in life we choose. The four main characters in the film walk on both sides of the law and end up meeting when they’re older and confronting each other over the paths they’ve chosen. It’s an action/thriller with an indie infrastructure. It also has a mainstream flair because it was shot so brilliantly.
Tell me a little about the AMC Theaters distribution of the film.
There aren’t many proven successful films with a predominantly Latino cast, so it was difficult to find a distributor to take on the challenge of marketing this type of film. In the end though, it’s all about the story and avoiding stereotypes. Our co-producer, David J. Phillips had a contact over at AMC. They’re creating a division just for independent cinema. One where they allocate a certain percentage of their theater for screening independent films. They saw the film and knew that Mission Park had a winning chance and offered us this opportunity.
What’s next for Mission Park?
Because AMC only has one location in San Antonio [which unfortunately wasn't available]; another theater chain local to the area, Santikos Theaters, has come on board to screen the film in four of their primary locations. So, as a gift to our fans in San Antonio, we’re opening the film one day before the rest of country, on Sept 5th. We also have some screening interest from Maya Cinemas in Salinas, Bakersfield and Pittsburgh as well. It’s a moving train, but we’ve all done a lot of work to get it on the track and now it’s beginning to roll!
What satisfies you the most about Mission Park?
Usually, producers will just see the film through to completion and that’s it. But for Mission Park, we’re all handling the marketing and PR ourselves because we really believe in it. It’s much more than just a “Latino” film. We never go out into the world and say “This a Latino project.” We go in trying to tell a story and do the best we can to convey that story accurately and entertainingly. Although we’re very proud to be Latino, it’s the story that really connects with people. It should always be about the story first.
Mission Park opens September 5th in San Antonio, TX at the Santikos Theaters and September 6th at the AMC Theaters in LA, Chicago and New York.