By Aaron Stiles
In about two weeks, David Melendez and his group of filmmakers are going to being shooting their short film Wounded. I was able to sit down with the crew and talk about the film’s story, creation, and how to attract the public’s attention to it
The film, which is currently in pre-production, will center on the difficulties that face two military personnel: David, a retiree attempting to adjust to civilian life after 20 years in the military, and Gwen, a young woman who has served about three or four years, but who still faces challenges with reintegration.
Melendez wrote the screenplay for the film and will be directing, as well.
“I’m a veteran myself, and it’s always been a sensitive issue to me in regards to veterans dealing with the transition (back to civilian life),” he says. “The story has always been in the back of my mind.”
Melendez graduated from the Creative Media Institute at NMSU. During his time here, he’d always “tinkered” with Wounded’s story, but now that he has the time and resources he’s ready to make the story a reality.
A lot of the attention on veterans these days focuses on the negative things that happen to some of the men and women who return from serving in the military, Melendez told me. He said his film does touch on these negative issues, such as veteran suicides and homelessness, but he wanted to stress the film has a positive and inspirational message.
“I would like my fellow veterans, male and female, to know that there is help out there, that it is not a lost cause,” he says. “Even in the darkest of times there is a way out.”
Whitney Guaderrama, a current CMI student at NMSU and Wounded actor, plays a waitress.
“I’ve worked with these wonderful people before and they are really professional and working in that type of environment is important to me,” she says.
She says she felt well suited for the role.
“(As an actress) I want to act in as many roles as I can and the story was also really interesting to me,” she says
The producer of the film is former CMI student Janelle Torres, who has worked with David on one of her own short films in the past, where he acted as producer.
Janelle says, when David approached her about being her producer, she felt very privileged and excited to work with him. David’s wife, Maria, also helped produce the film. She says the story was inspirational to her and it also means a lot to her personally as someone who has a spouse in the military.
David and the crew told me they hope the film will appeal to both military- and non-military audiences. As someone who loves telling stories, Melendez says, he hopes his audiences will emotionally invest in Wounded.
“Emotion (and quality) of storytelling (is important),” Melendez says. “I love to lose myself in stories verbally, but even more so in the movie theater.”
Melendez says he wants to share with others that feeling of getting lost in a story.
Recondo Films, David and Maria’s film production company, will be picking up most of the costs for the film, but the crew is asking for donations on Indiegogo to assist with food, transportation, and equipment rentals.
The funds will also assist the filmmakers with the entry fees to film festivals, such as Sundance and Cannes, to which they plan on submitting Wounded. The biggest obstacle these ambitious filmmakers are facing right now is not only script re-writes as filming approaches, but also getting these funds by the end of the month.
The Indiegogo campaign has various gifts for benefactors. Depending on the size of the donation, some of the perks of donating to the film include: hanging out on set with the cast and crew, having a non-speaking or a speaking role in the film, a personalized video from a cast or crew member of your choice, or even free lunch with the cast and crew.
When asked what advice she would give aspiring filmmakers, Torres says she would advise them not to listen to those who would say, “You can’t do it.”
Be perseverant, she says. NMSU’s CMI Department have people willing to help. Melendez says no project should ever stay on the ground simply because of inexperience.
Chelsea Foster – Gwen
David Melendez – David
Janelle Torres – Producer
Maria Melendez – Producer
Jessie Trujillo McGeorge – Executive Producer
David Melendez – Writer/Director
Tom Kwiat – Cinematographer
Amanda VanVeen – Script Supervisor
Amnazia – Production Assistant
RECONDO FILMS http://recondofilms.wix.com/indie-film-company