As I write this, Donny and I have just returned from the second premiere weekend for PRC Productions’ suspense thriller TRUTH, held in Silver City, March 6 & 7. It was a spectacular culmination of phase one for the southern New Mexico-produced independent film, which was primarily filmed near Silver City, at the historic Ft. Bayard facilities. I say phase one, because these premieres – the first of which was held at the Rio Grande Theatre here in Las Cruces the weekend before, February 27 & 28 – were just the beginning for TRUTH.
I’ve already scheduled screenings at the Guild Cinema in Albuquerque on the afternoon of Saturday, May 16, followed by two screenings at the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe, Friday and Saturday, May 22 & 23. Others are being arranged at other small, independently owned and operated cinemas throughout the state of New Mexico. Because of the wide range of talent associated with this film – most of the cast and crew were from New Mexico, but a couple were from Los Angeles and another was from Seattle – we’re working on getting it into theaters in those cities as well.
From there, who knows? I’d like to get it seen by audiences as many times as possible, before parlaying that exposure into some sort of distribution deal, whether it be DVD, VOD or some combination of the two. It won’t be an easy road, nothing about the film industry ever has been and it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier as technological advances make it SO easy to put stuff out there, but I’m more than up for the challenge. Positive responses by those who attended both premieres and the subsequent screenings have shown that there is an audience for the picture. Numbers always help.
It will be a few days before we get final counts, but at last guesstimate we had close to 400 people attend in Las Cruces while Light Hall Auditorium on the WNMU campus in Silver City was completely sold out with 191 people attending each night. People were turned away both nights, as well, and we’re already receiving requests to bring it back for another screening in the near future. A few people even returned to watch it again on the second night. Was it just because of local ties? Only time, and screenings outside the familiarity zones, will tell.
It is at this point that I really should give shout outs to the wonderful men and women who helped make these two premieres the successful ventures they were. In Las Cruces, premiere night was made all the more magical by Russ Smith and Marissa Coronado of Project Mainstreet, who closed down the street before the Rio Grande Theatre, invited food trucks to set up a reception and the Hubbard Family DJs to lend music to the night, provided invaluable social media support and created an overall festive atmosphere that literally lit up the night.
Equally as important were the Doña Ana Arts Council, which so graciously gave us use of the historic Rio Grande Theatre for a fraction of the price they normally charge, The City of Las Cruces for pushing permits through quickly, 138, Lucador and GreenHaus food trucks, Abel Villalobos at Community Connections, who provided projections on the street, Fred Espinosa who emceed the event, the many photographers and filmmakers who documented the event, the NMSU college students who helped get posters and flyers out and all of the downtown merchants who sponsored Project Mainstreet in their efforts to create a block party for the evening.
Without any of these people, organizations, businesses and supporters, none of that spectacular night would have been possible. Anybody who says community support is overrated, really doesn’t know what he or she is talking about. In Las Cruces, that was made abundantly clear. The same can be said for Silver City where a passionate community helped make our second premiere weekend just as memorable.
Dr. Joseph Shepherd, Joy Lemme, Abe Villareal and Damien Davies were the unbeatable team who helped me arrange use of Light Hall Auditorium, sent out invitations, provided the purple carpet for opening night, brought in a refreshment wagon for attendees and worked tirelessly to make both evenings truly special. Anybody who has ever tried to coordinate an event on a university campus knows exactly what I’m talking about. These folks went above and beyond in their duties to create not only a welcoming atmosphere for the visiting filmmakers, but also warmly cater to the movie-going community-at-large.
Also of note were the tireless Mike Barragree at Mimbres Film, Mary Alice at the Grant County Beat, Scott Terry at the Silver City Chamber of Commerce and all the TRUTH extras, crew members and business supporters who helped us get the word out. Huge thanks must also go out to all of the people who stayed after the film on both nights to ask well thought-out and pertinent questions during the Q&A session until we finally had to ask them to leave the auditorium so the crew could clean up and lock down.
A very special thank you, however, must go to John, Betty and Russell Lang at El Rancho NAN, who hosted those of us who traveled from Las Cruces to present the film, including the producer Troy Scoughton and writer/director Michael J. Cramer, without whom none of this would have been possible. Not only did the Langs open their doors to us with gracious accommodations, they provided tours of their enormous ranch facilities and very enthusiastically invited us all to return when schedules permit and opportunities for future film work arise. Believe me, when I say, we will be returning to the lovely Mimbres Valley.
From full moon strolls along the WNMU campus to long walks under impossibly blue skies, delicious meals at local establishments and interactions with some of the nicest people on the planet, it was a weekend we won’t soon forget. An invigorating way to enter phase two of the TRUTH marketing and screening campaign. A charming reassessment of the impact art can have on a community and a clear reminder of why I truly love what I do.
A drastically different version of this chronicle appeared as an article in the Friday, March 6 issue of the Las Cruces Bulletin. Much of the original was compressed to make room for additional information after the second premiere weekend. All rights reserved.