Santa Cruz Good Times

Wednesday
Aug 20th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Cruzin’ for Inspiration

ae1Former resident pays homage to Santa Cruz with locally shot thesis film

When he left Santa Cruz for the University of Southern California’s graduate film program in 2010, Christopher Guerrero had completed the film major at UC Santa Cruz in 2008 and worked on campus in the film and digital media department. It wasn’t until he headed south, that Guerrero began to reminisce about the coastal town.

“It was really really hard when I moved to L.A., to acclimate and find friends,” he says, adding that—counter to the philosophical, conversational culture of Santa Cruz—he found nowhere in his new town where he could simply sit and talk about life with someone. “I didn’t really realize why I love [Santa Cruz] so much until it was gone.”

In his nostalgia, Guerrero dug up a short comedy he wrote seven years prior, during college. It is the story of Mike—a punk rocker and I.T. specialist, loosely based on Guerrero and some of his friends—who is tasked with reclaiming the university chancellor’s laptop from a group of Portlandia-esque, self-described anarchists. They’re bent on stopping "The Military Industrial Complex,” and Mike’s only help is a motley crew: Susan, his “gothic-gamer roommate,” Ryan, an “overweight hipster ecstasy dealer,” and Vanessa, a “tough-as-nails roller derby girl.”

Guerrero transformed the story into a script for a 16-minute short comedy-thriller-noir film, titled Mike Garcia and The Cruz. He calls the project his love letter to Santa Cruz.

“It’s my memories, and it’s how [my time in Santa Cruz] made me feel,” he says. “It developed out of looking back and going ‘Oh yeah, that’s why I miss Santa Cruz.’”

On the Kickstarter page for the film, which will remain open for donations until May 25, Guerrero describes the reasons he fell hard for Santa Cruz.

“I had many fun, bizarre, and weird experiences while living in Santa Cruz,” he says. “I fell head over heels in love, dealt with depression and a broken heart during my time there.”

He goes on to say that for years he attempted to combine these collected experiences into a funny narrative, which captures the mood and magic he felt while living in Santa Cruz.

Upon completion, the 27-year-old director will use Mike Garcia and The Cruz as his USC thesis film. Guerrero and his crew of just over a dozen will shoot the film in Santa Cruz in late June.  

In the spirit of punk music, film noir, and movies like Alex Cox's Repo Man, James Merendino’s SLC Punk and the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski, Mike Garcia and The Cruz is a snapshot of the Santa Cruz Guerrero experienced. It comes complete with a few Santa Cruz stock characters that locals might recognize—like the punk IT nerd, the tough derby girl with a heart of gold, and the misguided anarchist.

ae2Director Christopher Guerrero (left) and producer Will Goldstein will journey to Santa Cruz to film their thesis.William Goldstein, one of the film’s producers, says he got involved with the project because of the intriguing plot.

“There was really a solidified story,” says Goldstein. “This movie is a love poem to Santa Cruz. It's funded by volunteers who believe in the story, and value that incredible sense of community Santa Cruz boasts.”

Even though he only visited once, Goldstein says he was struck by the sense of community in town. “The whole place felt like one big living room,” he recalls.

Goldstein says the biggest production challenge will be creating the hyper-realistic world of Mike Garcia and the Cruz.

“This is an audacious project for a short,” he says. “We have a lot of stunts and action. The production design is going to be intensive, and costly. … We're stretching the dollar as far as it can go.”

The film just became a nonprofit 501(c)(3), so those interested in donating to the project can receive a tax write-off in return, made especially easy if donations are made through FracturedAtlas.org.

Guerrero originally wrote the role of the UCSC chancellor for Bill Murray, but after Guerrero’s attempts to contact the actor in a variety of creative ways—including the creation of Bill Murray Appreciation Day—Murray’s lawyers informed him that the famed actor is working on another feature this summer, called The Monuments Men.

Now, Guerrero is in talks with Saturday Night Live actor Fred Armisen, who co-created and co-stars in the show Portlandia. Guerrero says that Portlandia paved the way for some of the more awkward scenes in his film.

He recalls the moment in his script when a group of oddball college kids stumble into a naked party hosted by a 40-year-old ecstasy dealer, who casually invites them inside. “He doesn’t understand how it’s weird,” Guererro laughs.

The attitude of acceptance toward the unusual and bizarre is part of what motivated Goldstein to become a producer of the film.

“This is a movie about losers, outcasts, misfits,” he says. “It focuses on that unspoken solidarity they share. That's what interested me most.”

For example, Guerrero says the main character’s roommate, a slightly gothic gamer, is a lesbian. “She’s gay; it’s not really talked about,” he says. “And that’s how I’ve always felt about Santa Cruz; the people that are different, it’s not a big deal. It’s just like, ‘That’s who they are.’”

Guerrero says that especially in light of the recent wave of violence that has hit Santa Cruz, it is important not to let die the culture of “weird” that defines Santa Cruz.

“This movie is being made to kind of speak about how Santa Cruz is weird, and how we can't give into the fear,” he says. “You can’t let one person change the entire culture of what Santa Cruz is. … One person is the problem, not Santa Cruz.” 


For more information or to donate to the film, visit mikegarciaandthecruz.com or fracturedatlas.org. Deadline to donate is May 25.

Comments (2)Add Comment
MMmmhmm
written by Yes!, May 27, 2013
“This movie is being made to kind of speak about how Santa Cruz is weird, and how we can't give into the fear,” he says. “You can’t let one person change the entire culture of what Santa Cruz is. … One person is the problem, not Santa Cruz.”

Thank you! It feels nice even to read these words. I can't wait to see this film.
A breath of fresh air.
written by Brent Adams, May 23, 2013
I commend the filmmakers for raising the freak flag of our town's weirdness. It hasn't seen much use in the past few years as the fear-mongers and folks who would turn our most cherished hallmarks into objects of scorn. All freaks to the front! Weird it up! This is a unique place in the cultural world as it is in the geographical one and should be celebrated not sanitized. Hoooray!!

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Trending Now

Whether you live by the Vogue bible or choose to go into your day wearing what you slept in, odds are you wear clothes.

 

The Thought Form of Solution

It’s our last week of Leo before the sun enters Virgo (next Friday/Saturday). The planets this week make complex patterns and relationships (vibrational cadences and rhythms) with the outer planets, mainly Neptune—the planet that veils, obscures, protects and finally refines us. Neptune offers us entrance into a deeply spiritual sense of comfort and solace. Neptune is the personality ruler of Pisces (saviors of the world) and soul ruler of Cancer (world mother). “The fish goddesses who leapt from earth (Virgo) to water (Pisces) unitedly give birth to the Fish God (Christ, the Soul) who introduces the waters of life  (Neptune & Aquarius) into the ocean of substance (matter, mother bringing light to the world. Thus does Neptune work.” (Esoteric Astrology).

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Cultures Collide

No surprises, but lots to savor in foodie film ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Foodie File: Kauboi

Japanese-Western themed unites sushi with whiskey and beefgrill

 

How should Santa Cruz develop downtown around the San Lorenzo River?

Santa Cruz | Artist/Show Promoter

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

Have Mercy!

Looking for a frisky summer wine at a reasonable price? Look no further than Mercy Vineyards’ 2013 Sauvignon Blanc ($20). Richly textured “with an exotic flavor profile,” the wine reveals aromas of honeydew melon and honeysuckle, with anise appearing as a star attraction. Smidgeons of pineapple and honeycomb add a touch of sexiness to this well-balanced, easy-drinking wine, which pairs well with a variety of cuisine —especially ceviche, calamari and other not-too-heavy foods.