Director and UCSC alumnus Christopher Guerrero seeks out the elusive Bill Murray to star in thesis film
Christopher Guerrero, a UC Santa Cruz alumnus and current graduate student of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, has an ambitious vision for his thesis film: to cast one of the most famous men in Hollywood, Bill Murray, in a lead role. It may sound like a pipe dream, but Guerrero and his crew are beyond determined to convince the iconic actor—by any means possible—to join them in Santa Cruz, where they intend to start filming in May of this year. In an effort to gain Murray’s attention, the group of students have established Bill Murray Appreciation Day (BMAD), set to take place on Saturday, Feb. 2, also known as Groundhog Day (a reference to Murray’s 1993 comedy of the same name). The inaugural event will be held on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, where fans dressed up as Bill Murray in his various film roles will embark on a BMAD Bar Crawl. Guerrero hopes that the celebration will extend beyond Los Angeles, however, and that fans will honor the day around the world each year. In preparation for this weekend’s event, we caught up with Guerrero to discuss his film, the new holiday, and the progress of his quest.
Good Times: Can you tell us about the film?
Christopher Guerrero: The film is a short, 15-minute comedy about Mike, a punk rock student and I.T. specialist at a university. He finds himself on a mission to reclaim the Chancellor's laptop from a group of anarchists bent on stopping "The Military Industrial Complex." His only help is a rag tag group of weirdos: Susan, his gothic-gamer roommate, Ryan, an overweight hipster ecstasy dealer, and Vanessa, a tough-as-nails roller derby girl.
What convinced you that Bill Murray was the best choice for the role and why do you idolize him?
My producer William Goldstein said it best, “He can play caricatures without being histrionic—in a way that feels authentic and real.” I idolize Mr. Murray because he’s one of those actors that has transcended his own stereotype.
Why do you think Bill Murray should agree to this role? What’s in it for him?
By examining his resume, you get the idea that he's an actor that seeks out roles that would surprise the audience. Playing the Chancellor of a university, Murray will not only personify, in iconic fashion, the very unique culture of the city and school, but he would humanize a world that's often misconstrued and stereotyped outside Santa Cruz.
How do you plan on celebrating Bill Murray Appreciation Day? Will this become an annual event?
One thing is for sure, we are going to be making Bill Murray Appreciation Day an annual event. The purpose of the holiday is to celebrate Mr. Murray’s transcendental career and to hopefully gain the actor's attention in order to cast him as an important character in the film. The holiday will be held on Feb. 2, Groundhog Day, in homage to the classic Bill Murray film.
How can people outside of Los Angeles who want to celebrate join in on the fun?
Anyone can assemble a group of friends and participate. Please take photos or videos and post it to the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BillMurrayAppreciationDay). Throw a party. Have a parade … as long as you’re celebrating Bill Murray, you can be part of Bill Murray Appreciation Day.
When do you plan on shooting the film in Santa Cruz? What locations will you visit and why?
We plan on shooting this film in late spring, we’ve been thinking around May, so long as all of the pieces fall into place. I want to use as many iconic locations as possible to get the look and feel of Santa Cruz. In my head, I have this vision of driving down Walnut Street toward Downtown, or the pier/Boardwalk, Natural Bridges, the harbor.
How did you get started in film?
Well, I actually started in radio when I was 10 years old on an NPR show run by kids. The show was run out of my sixth grade classroom in my hometown and it really gave me a love of telling and creating stories. So I went to UCSC and studied film, after worked as a staff member at UCSC for a while, and currently I’m an MFA film production grad at USC in Los Angeles.
What do you want your viewers to take away from this film?
When you find a place you fit in, you have to fight for it. The main character, Mike, has people trying to take Santa Cruz away from him. I want viewers to see no matter where you identify as being your home, it’s worth fighting for.
For more information, or to participate in Bill Murray Appreciation Day on Feb. 2, visit http://billmurrayappreciationday.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/BillMurrayAppreciationDay.
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