Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

September 10, 2013

Breaking Good: Film makers perfect their craft with a wealth of local resources

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — Two East Texas filmmakers with ties to cinema superstar Robert Rodriguez and waiter jobs at Rancho Grande Mexican Restaurant are holding an open movie casting call for local actors at 3 p.m. this Sunday.

Gabriel Carmona and Branden Selman, founders of "New Age Cinema (or 'NAC') Film Theory, are developing a solid reputation in the film industry for their cost-effective – almost-minimalist – approach to filmmaking.

They shoot footage of every building, every piece of landscape, and every potential actor they come across to keep costs down. Even the destroyed Jacksonville Yum Yum's building provides them with free cinematic fodder.

And the restaurant that provided them with much-needed employment when they needed the funds to buy a new camera – Rancho Grande, 205 South Jackson – will be the scene of their Sunday open auditions.

Both Carmona, 40, and Selman, 23, have strong, listed backgrounds as directors and actors on IMDb, the Internet Movie Database.  While in the process of perfecting their craft, they said they have been fortunate enough to rub elbows with film industry mainstays – most recently some close colleagues of  Robert Rodriguez, the famous American film director screenwriter, producer, cinematographer, editor and musician.

Carmona said he worked as an extra on Machete, a 2010 action exploitation film  co-directed by Rodriguez.

Landing in the orbit of the director – who is also responsible for such films as Spy Kids, El Mariachi and Desperado –  was kind of a dream come true, he said.

With the advent of modern communication tools such as the Internet, it seems the sky is the limit for  entrepreneurs hungry for success, Carmona said.

“Really, we live in an era where anything is possible,” Carmona explained. “If Brooke Shields was willing to go out on a date with me, I could probably reach her about it on Twitter. It didn't used to be like that. Things are so very different now than they were 10 years ago. You never know what's going to happen if you get enough people behind a company like ours.”

Nac Film Theory's current project – one members have been toiling on for the past two years or so – is a continuing film series titled Caballero (which is Spanish for a gentleman or a horseman).

The narrative follows an unlikely hero prompted to tackle the injustices of human trafficking – in that horrible shadow world where coyotes escort foreign nationals across the United States border, pledging to bring them to a better life only to throw them into a pit of slavery and prostitution.

The hero of this story, played by Carmona, is out to save people and promote justice.

And if Walter White, that science teacher/cancer victim/methamphetamine manufacturer, was “Breaking Bad” then the hero of this story is “Breaking Good” – in the sense that he travels outside his comfort zone and risks his life for justice.

“He's like the Chicano Batman,” Carmona said.

There is a villain, also played by Carmona.

He describes him a combination of Napoleon Bonaparte, The Joker and Dylan Thomas – a Welsh poet and writer whose works include the villanelle poem “Do not go gentle into that good night”  and who had a reputation as a “roistering, drunken and doomed poet.”

Caballero currently comes in short incremental episodes, roughly three minutes a piece, on websites such as YouTube.

Carmona and Selman were able to borrow a camera just long enough to shoot half the footage they need for the project before they were prompted to seek out the waiter jobs.

Several people who work at Rancho Grande – even the owners – have ties to the Caballero production family, Carmona and Selman said.

Ultimately,  the film duo said they would like to either compile all the footage into one movie or, even better, create a longer, ongoing series, in the dramatic vein of the aforementioned "Breaking Bad."

Carmona and Selman are still in the process of  recruiting artists who have talent in film production, cinematography and even screen writing.

“Nac Film Theory is more of  a collection of actors than a corporate film company,” Carmona said. “We do things a little differently.”

NAC Film Theory, which focuses on action, romance, and comedy cinema as well as documentaries, is a dream come true for Selman.

“I have been making films since the age of 12,” Selman said on one of his film profiles. “Nac Film Theory is my most passionate endeavor.”

In their own words, Nac Film Theory is made up of  “poets, composers, painters, photographers, and BAD MAMMA JAMMAS!”

Indeed – actors of all ages, races and backgrounds are welcome for the aforementioned 3 p.m. Sunday auditions at Rancho Grande, 205 South Jackson in Jacksonville. No experience is necessary.