Producing An Award-winning Indie Film — Opens Sept. 6th At AMC Theaters
A Conversation With Producer Douglas Spain: From Selling Star Maps to the Streets in San Antonio in Mission Park
By Elia Esparza
Mission Park, the independent crime/thriller set to open on September 6th is a must see. Not only because it is a chilling, nail-biting, heart pounding crime thriller, or the fact that it is headlined by some of Hollywood’s most exciting new Latino actors, but because it is a testament to what can happen when you have a producer attached who is 100% committed to the project… that would be Douglas Spain!
Douglas Spain has been on our radar for many years after his extraordinary 1997 debut as the lead in Miguel Arteta’s Star Maps where he portrayed a teenager with big dreams of being an actor. Instead his vicious stepfather (Efrain Figueroa) forces him into the family business of male prostitution. Not many young actors could have handled the role striking a balance between tolerance and survival. Douglas Spain’s performance did not disappoint and it garnered him a Spirit Award Nomination.
Spain, a respected actor in Hollywood, was attached to play one of the lead roles in writer director Bryan Ramirez’s Mission Park. When raising the money proved difficult, Spain decided to take a secondary role and don the producer hat to raise the money. His passion for Ramirez’s script ultimately lead him to real estate mogul and star of his own reality show A&E’s Flip This House, Armando Montelongo. Mission Park is San Antonio born and bred and made under the Armando Montelongo Production shingle.
And if securing the funding wasn’t enough, Spain went on to also secure the AMC Theaters theatrical distribution deal for the film.
Through our AMC Independent platform, we regularly explore new distribution platforms to help independent filmmakers tell their stories. We are proud to bring Mission Park to our screens and believe it to be a meaningful story.” – Nikkole Denson-Randolph, Vice President of Specialty and Alternative Content, AMC
Mission Park will be released in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and San Antonio on September 6th with other markets soon to be announced. In the film festival circuit, the indie has already won Best Narrative Feature, Best Director (Bryan Ramirez) and Best Acting Performance (Walter Perez) at this year’s Boston International Film Festival. At the World Fest Houston International Film Festival, Mission Park won the Special Jury Prize.
We caught up with Douglas recently to talk his film.
Douglas Spain: I started my career the same year as Latin Heat. In fact, Latin Heat is where I saw the casting announcement for Star Maps. I guess we’ve been helping each other out all these years. Yes, the story is based on events in the director’s [Bryan Ramirez] upbringing.
LH: What was it about the story that compelled you enough to want to come on board as producer… even after you were offered the lead role?
DS: I loved how every character had a backstory that provided a deeper insight into their psyche. These were rich characters that came from an American Latino world. I had to help Bryan keep them authentic by casting talented Latino actors and not some British actor that looks Latino and speaks Spanish. I love the Brits but a film I saw recently brought that scenario to mind. The truth is that most of the good roles aren’t offered to American Latino actors so here was a chance for us as filmmakers to even the playing field.
LH: Mission Park is a crime-drama about childhood friends whose adult lives divide them on opposite sides of the law. Who do you predict is the main audience for your film?
DS: The same movie going audience that saw Fast and Furious 6 with some of the audience from Fruitvale Station. Mission Park brings mainstream flare to the indie infrastructure.
LH: Your cast is impressive – was it a brotherhood on set or were there divo moments? Come on, do tell….
DS: For me, not one divo moment. I was already friends with Jeremy Ray Valdez and Walter Perez from our time on the set of HBO’s Walkout. They respected me and I them. But honestly, working with talented friends who are good guys all around is like a Latin party. And we all know there [ain’t] no party like a Latin Heat party! This was my third film with the lovely Fernanda Romero so there was a trust there. She is one beautiful soul. Joseph Julian Soria was a new addition for me. I grew to like the guy instantly for his professionalism and honesty. In Texas there are many ‘whitinos’ (white Latinos) so it was kismet that we found Will Rothhaar – an all-American actor that speaks fluent Spanish and is extremely talented to boot. See, even we Latino filmmakers are open-minded when it comes to casting choices! I’m a true believer in the best actor for the role. The key is to give all actors a chance and not just a select few. It’s about balance and that’s what I hope to bring as a producer to the Hollywood table.
Deception Has No Friends” –Mission Park Film Tagline
LH: The film has a great visual look and feel to it… were you inspired by any other film’s cinematic look?
DS: The film’s cinematic look is owed to our talented director Bryan Ramirez and our awesome cinematographer Thomas Nador. These two guys challenged one another creatively. Then you add the amazing crew and the rest was just magic.
LH: IMDB lists a budget of approximately $4 million – how hard was it for you to secure funding enough to get the cast and crew you got?
DS: Securing funds becomes difficult when you have a film with a predominately [all] Latino cast and nothing to compare to in terms of success. Films with Latinos as both the protagonist and antagonist are extremely rare. I think the last commercially successful films were Desperado and Zorro, both with Antonio Banderas. Thankfully there are some films making some noise like Filly Brown. The story should always take precedence and race should be an afterthought. Our executive producer Armando Montelongo believed exactly that. He gave us the green-light to tell the story Bryan had written. Armando is the force behind this film even now in its distribution phase. He’s a good guy.
LH: AMC is breaking ground in venturing into a Latino-made-cast-story film with Mission Park. By going directly to the theater distributor, will this allow the production company to make more money?
DS: It’s a true sign of hope when a big successful company like AMC Theaters allocates 20% of their theaters to support independent cinema. Co-producer David J. Phillips put the icing on the cake with this AMC deal. The beauty about distributing Mission Park through AMC Theaters is that we have complete control over the entire marketing campaign. That brings a smile to my face because those who know me well can vouch that I’m a control freak [he laughs]. We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this place and now the success of Mission Park lies in the hands of the movie-going audience. On that note, please come party with us on September 6th at the AMC Theaters listed below in honor of Mission Park!
Thank you, Douglas Spain! You have broken new ground in helping to secure the AMC Theaters deal for your award-winning Mission Park!
Check out the list below for a theater near you and we just learned that the Santikos Theaters in San Antonio, Texas will also have the film in four of their prime locations.
Don’t forget to LIKE the film on FB: https://www.facebook.com/missionpark
Visit the film’s website: http://missionparkthemovie.com
Los Angeles (AMC Theaters):
Burbank 8, Burbank, CA
Universal CityWalk 19, Los Angeles, CA
Norwalk 20, Norwalk, CA
Ontario 30, Ontario, CA
Orange 30, Orange, CA
Tyler 16, Riverside, CA
Galleria At South Bay 16, Redondo Beach, CA
Chicago (AMC Theaters):
Cicero 14, Cicero, IL
Galewood 14, Chicago, IL
New York (AMC Theaters):
Empire 25, New York, NY
San Antonio (Santikos Theaters):
Palladium IMAX, San Antonio, TX
Silverado 16, San Antonio, TX
Mayan Palace, San Antonio, TX
Northwest, San Antonio, TX
Mission Park – Opens September 6, 2013
An Armando Montelongo Productions
Written and Directed by Bryan Ramirez
Producers: Douglas Spain, David J. Philips (AMC)
Executive Producer: Armando Montelongo
Cinematographer: Thomas Nador
Cast: Jeremy Ray Valdez, Will Rothhaar, Walter Perez, Joseph Julian Soria, Will Estes, Vivica A. Fox, Fernanda Romero, and Jesse Borrego