A film by David Ponce de Leon
(USA, HD-Red, 95 minutes, 2:35 AR) http://www.roadtojuarez-movie.com/
Distribution: MouseTrap Films LLC
Publicity: Linda Brown / Indie PR / 818.310.0050 / firstname.lastname@example.org
An American ex-con with Mexican underworld ties ensnares a pair of young misfits into a dangerous heist in Mexico.
Jacob (Walter Perez) is a petty thief and hustler caught up in a life of crime. When the cunning ex-con Doug (William Forsythe) takes Jacob and his best friend Rob (Charlie Koontz) under his wing, he introduces them to the dark side of the Mexican underworld.
A precarious heist of high priced illegal animal products brings the trio to Mexico City and face to face with the danger south of the war-torn border.
Ivan (Adal Ramones), henchman to a powerful Mexican underworld boss and his brother Igor, (Pete Pano) kidnap Rob and his estranged boss’s 17 year old son, Fito (Joshua Ponce de Leon). To make matters worse, Jacob falls for the beautiful and sexy wife (Romina Peniche) of a powerful warlord. In over his head, Jacob is forced to face his personal demons head on.
Through the tumultuous journey through Mexico, Jacob is transformed in several ways. The gradual awakening of his collective consciousness becomes evident, as well as his realization that what he has been doing is wrong. He also realizes that one can never escape Karma. The only way to survive and rescue his best friend from certain death, is to tap into the heart and soul of the country that will make him the man he is destined to become.
THE FILMMAKER’S JOURNEY
The road to making ROAD TO JUAREZ was long and winding, to say the least. Spanning over three years from script to screen, writer/director David Ponce de Leon decided from the outset that his first feature film would not be “a dressed-up stage play” as most industry pundits suggested. Instead, he conceived of a road picture in the realm of films like MOTORCYCLE DIARIES and EASY RIDER, complete with time- honored crime elements and an international sensibility.
After reading several books on the multi-billion dollar underworld of animal pelt and exotic pet smuggling, he stumbled upon a report from the CIA/Homeland Security archives covering how the line between pelt smugglers and those smuggling more precarious types of contraband was blurring. Pooling from various sources and first-hand accounts, Ponce de Leon decided he had his
story and began to write the screenplay. After months of tireless research and writing, he created the framework for the script. After six months and over fifteen drafts of the screenplay, the script was ready.
There was only one problem – even though Ponce de Leon had been making a living as a writer/director and producer for close to fifteen years, (producing and directing several commercials, pilots, behind the scenes specials, press kits for network television, as well as a pair of festival-honored short films) he was still considered a first time director in the feature film world. He needed a partner with a proven track record in film.
A year and several drafts of the script later, Ponce de Leon was introduced to legendary producer, Scott Rosenfelt (HOME ALONE, MYSTIC PIZZA, TEEN WOLF, SMOKE SIGNALS. Rosenfelt read the script and took on the project.
Rosenfelt and Ponce de Leon worked on attaching top talent to the project. Enter, Mr. Cesar Ramirez. Ramirez is a successful business impresario from Austin, Texas, who had always wanted to work in film. After reading the script and researching the particulars, Ramirez raised seed money and ROAD TO JUAREZ was born.
Casting was an arduous process. Rosenfelt secured Rosalinda Morales and Pauline O’Con, CSA, who had just wrapped the award winning UNDER THE SAME MOON. The Morales team brought in Walter Perez and Charlie Koontz, whose chemistry was apparent from the moment they were paired.
Once the two leads were locked in, the creative team needed a strong actor for the role of DOUG, the mastermind behind the doomed mission underscoring ROAD TO JUAREZ. They wanted a terrific actor with universal appeal, who could help bring in Anglo audiences.
William Forsythe would play A veteran of films including THE ROCK, AMERICAN ME, ONCE UPON A
TIME IN AMERICA, Forsythe was the perfect choice.
The final piece of the puzzle was the Mexican antagonist, IVAN, a role that required tremendous talent and an actor appealing to the intrinsic Latin American audience. Mexican comedian Adal Ramones would be cast in that role. OTRO ROLLO made the actor a household name; but it was his role of the vicious rapist in the hit Mexican mega TV series, MUJERES ASESINAS that showed the filmmakers he could play the part.
Ramones had been looking to do a North American film, in a serious role, and ROAD TO JUAREZ was it. Ramones appeal spans Mexico, Latin America and the U.S.
Once the cast was assembled, the creative team needed a cinematographer.
Emmy-award nominee Jonathan West signed on right away and worked with Ponce de Leon to develop an organic, earth toned rich palette.
Principal photography spanned
less than 20 shooting days with temperatures topping at 112 degrees in the desert town of Lancaster, in the middle of summer, and the height of rattlesnake season.
At least 3 separate instances of rattlesnakes were encountered by the crew during the Lancaster shoot, forcing many of them to opt to remain on the truck beds for safety.
Two thirds of the film takes place in Mexico, so much “location cheating”
was required and the creative team needed to get creative. A petite second unit, including the director, producer and lead character, shot for over a week in the streets of Mexico City as well as in several rural farming communities south of the capital. The Los Angeles footage was then intercut with the Mexico plates to achieve a seamless tapestry. So we see Forsythe sitting in downtown Los Angeles, but his POV is second unit Mexico footage.
Various computer generated shots were required to make this transformative process possible. The majority of driving shots were shot on a Los Angeles soundstage with a green screen placed behind the vehicles. The Mexico driving plates were then inserted in post.
The ‘rooftop mugging’ sequence was also composed with visual effects; Los Angeles roof mixed with Mexico City roof. For the rural sequences where the lead cast needed to interact with a small Mexican town, the Valuze Movie Ranch in Valencia, California was used. Southern California sugar cane shack, mixed with small town Mexico sugar cane plantation. Many signs and other postings were also redesigned to give the film a seamless and authentic feel, which was of primary importance to the director.
William Forsythe (Doug) has had memorable roles as the deformed mobster Flattop in Dick Tracy starring Warren Beatty, and as crime racket leaders such as Richie Madano in the 1991 Steven Seagal film, Out for Justice. He also portrayed organized crime figure Sammy “The Bull” Gravano in the HBO telefilm Gotti. He portrayed serial killer John Wayne Gacy in Dear Mr. Gacy, a film adaptation of The Last Victim, the memoirs of Jason Moss, a college student who corresponded with Gacy his last year on death row. He also appeared in Raising Arizona with Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter. He also appeared alongside Robert DeNiro and Joe Pesci in the award-winning film Once Upon a Time in America.
Latino audiences remember him best for his groundbreaking performance as “JD”, Edward James Olmos’ partner in crime in American Me. On the TV side, he played Al Capone on The Untouchables. In addition, Forsythe has guest-starred on numerous television shows, including Tales of the Gold Monkey, Hill Street Blues, Cybill, Shark and Las Vegas. He played Manny Horvitz, a Philadelphia mobster, in the second and third seasons of Boardwalk Empire, produced by Martin Scorsese. Upcoming roles in 2015 include The Midnight Man, The Unlikely’s, The Witching Hour and The Bronx Bull.
Adal Ramones (Ivan) created and starred in the
hugely popular television show for Televisa, Otro Rollo.
The show aired for 12 years and featured interviews
with many stars, including Ricky Martin, Will Smith,
Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gloria
Gaynor, Shakira, and Britney Spears. In 2005, he was
also nominated for a Mexican MTV Movie Award for his
role in Puños Rosas. He was also the host of the TV
reality shows Cantando por un Sueño and Bailando por
un Sueño. In December 2006 he appeared in the
Mexican production of the Mel Brooks musical The
Producers in the role of Leo Bloom. In 2011, he played an outrageous villain in the cult Mexican film, Saving Private Perez. Adal is a tremendously talented actor possessing an unmatched ability for improvisation. Road to Juarez marks his American cinema debut.
Sal Lopez (Manuel) – is a veteran actor who has appeared in numerous films including Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, The Astronaut Farmer with Billy Bob Thornton and Virginia Madsen, the political drama Silver City, Edward James Olmos’ American Me, Price Of Glory with Jimmy Smits, Selena with Jennifer Lopez, Cheech Marin’s Born In East L.A and Paparazzi. Television appearances include Nip/Tuck, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, NYPD Blue, Touched By An Angel, and Melrose Place.
Walter Perez (Jacob) – is best known for his role
in Fame, an updated version of the 1980 film,
where he plays Victor Taveras, a young
musician from Spanish Harlem aspiring to
become a music producer. He has guest starred
in The Closer, CSI: Miami, A Beautiful Life, and
had a supporting role on the award-winning NBC
series Friday Night Lights. He has guest starred
in Cold Case, NCIS: Los Angeles and In Plain
Sight. His independent film roles include August
Evening, for which he received a best actor
nomination at the Los Angeles Film Festival.
Walter also starred in Emilio, another popular
independent film. He played Al Crisotomo in the
television movie Walkout for HBO, and co-starred alongside Dermot Mulroney and Diane Kruger in Run for Your Life. In 2014 Perez produced and starred in The Park Bench as Mateo, a struggling undergrad who forms an unexpected friendship with his assigned tutor.
Charley Koontz (Rob) is currently starring in the new series CSI: Cyber alongside Patricia Arquette and James van der Beek. He is best known for his recurring role as Fat Neil in the NBC comedy series Community. Koontz made his feature film debut in the cult hit Rubber, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival..
Other film credits include Haunting of Cellblock 11, You or a Loved One, Contracted, Wrong, and Couples Therapy. He has guest starred on the television shows Modern Family, Cleaners, Royal Pains, Gigantic and Free Rent.
Romina Peniche was born and raised in Mexico City and moved to Los Angeles in 2009 to pursue acting. Her first co-starring role in the USA was in Santiago. She had supporting roles in From Prada to Nada with Alexa Vega, Camilla Belle and Adriana Barraza and L.A. Nights. She had a recurring role in the Hulu series The Booth at the End.
MEET THE FILMMAKERS
David Ponce de Leon (Director, Writer) makes his feature film debut with ROAD TO JUAREZ. He has produced, directed, written and edited a large variety of projects including music videos, commercials, PSA’s and short films, in addition to several promos for NBC-Universal. For almost 15 years, he has helmed Millennium Crop Entertainment, a full service production company. Clients include: NBC-Universal, EXTRA, Access Hollywood, B.E.T., Beringer Vineyards, Coors-Molson, Machete/Universal Music Group, Kiss FM, Fox Sports Net, The City of Los Angeles, EMI Latin, Halo Media, Sandoval Media, Fortitude Inc., and The Jockey‘s Guild of America, among others.
David‘s short film The Cage was honored in the Emerging Talent competition at the LA Latino Int’l Film Festival and was an official selection at Silverlake and San Antonio Cine Festival. His second short film, Single Black Female was an official selection of the
Pan-African International Film Festival in LA and was Spotlight” program on BET.
Scott Rosenfelt (Producer) is one of Hollywood’s most successful producers. On the strength of such films as Smoke Signals, Home Alone, Mystic Pizza, Teen Wolf and Extremities, Scott has garnered international acclaim and recognition. He recently served as executive producer on Apartment 1303: 3D, starring Mischa Barton, Rebecca De Mornay and Corey Sevier. His documentary, Standing Silent, received a Sundance Documentary Filmmaker Grant. His Hollywood International School of Film, Television & New Media brins Hollywood professionals to China to teach all aspects of filmmaking. His upcoming producer credits include 7 Days in Syria, Bed and Breakfast, Escape to Anywhere Else and Love, Simply.
a finalist for the “Director’s
Noel Tristan (Executive Producer) President and CEO of Tristan Ventures, Noel’s broad business experience ranges from real estate and transportation to the film industry, all the way to oil and gas. In 2006, pursuing his passion for movies, Noel decided to apply his business acumen to the film industry. Since then, he has financed or produced multiple films that are currently in all stages of production from development to completion and raised over 10mm for film financing. He is a former professional tennis player. Noel has recently closed on a multi-million dollar investment deal in south Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale, one of the worlds largest oil and gas shale plays.
Cesar Ramirez (Producer) has over 15 years experience in entrepreneurial ventures and company acquisitions. As a domestic and international investor, Cesar also has a wide variety of expertise in the entertainment industry, specifically focused on project development and intellectual property acquisitions. He is the CEO of Marc Production Enterprises. His tracking achievements and experience are paramount in the development of specialized projects in the entertainment industry.
Jonathan West, ASC (Director Of Photography) Nominated for three Primetime Emmy’s, West has been Director of Photography on Hollywood television shows for over three decades. Credits include The Cape, Hawthorne, Las Vegas, Charmed, CSI, Profiler, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Doogie Houser MD, and Lou Grant. He has also operated camera for films such as The Aviator, The Karate Kid, and The Jazz Singer.
Luis Pérez (Composer) was born in Mexico City on July 11, 1951. Since 1971 he has dedicated much of his time to the research of pre-Columbian musical instruments. His early work was a mixture of sounds from his vast array of pre-Columbian and ethnographic wind and percussion instruments which he managed to blend with electronic devices such as; tape based delay units and analog synthesizers; in 1981 his work was heard and described in the U.S. by Archie Patterson as, “perhaps the ultimate fusion of ethnic and modern music, a stunning effect as the two different styles merge superbly into a mystical musical tapestry”. Perez’s lectures have been welcomed in other universities, colleges and museums such as; the Natural History Museum, the South-West Museum, the Getty Museum, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, UCLA, UCSB, CSU Northridge and Cal State in the south of California, also; the Museum of pre-Columbian Art in Philadelphia and the Museum of pre-Columbian Art at the University of St. Louis Mo. among others. In the year 2000 he was granted with the Fellowship Award from the California Arts Council for his modern composition on pre- Hispanic instruments “Santuario de Mariposas”. Luis has toured all over the American Continent performing, lecturing and teaching, he has collaborated with artists such as; Jackson Browne, Andreas Vollenweider, Ian Underwood, David Lindley, Kitaro, Jon Anderson ( singer of “Yes” ) composers; James Horner, Hans Zimmer and John Powell, among the companies he has worked for are; Universal, Paramount, L.A. Philharmonic, Disney Hall and Dream Works, in Southern California and in Canada with the French Canadian company Cirque du Soleil.
Carlos Osorio (Production Designer) began his career as a set designer for the stage. After earning a degree in Communications and pursuing graduate studies in Fine Art and Film, he settled in Los Angeles. As a production designer, Carlos has designed commercials, music videos, short and features films. His work has been seen on Fox, Sci fi channel & HBO among others. He has had the pleasure of working with a range of artists, from first-time directors to Academy Award winning professionals. His credits include 24, Walkout, The 75th Academy Awards, Boss’n Up, Paraiso Travel, and Hurricane Season.
DIRECTOR SCREENPLAY BY
David Ponce de Leon (Aka “David de Leon”)
David Ponce de Leon
Scott Rosenfelt Cesar Ramirez
COMPOSER ADDITIONAL MUSIC BY
Jonathan West, A.S.C.
Los de Abajo, Casa Verde Colectivo, Robert Allaire, The Mark Sells Band, Lior Ron, Stefano Tomaslli, Wes Abbott & The Luther College Choir, Robert “EQ” Diaz, Jugga da Beast, and Dakota Romero & Niko Terra.
David Ponce de Leon (Aka “David de Leon”)
ADDITIONAL EDITING STUNT COORDINATOR
Rosalinda Morales & Paline O’con CSA
Ray Verduzco CO-