Movie slated for Texas finds late redemption in N.M.
By Adrian Gomez, Asst. Arts Editor, ABQJournal Online
New Mexico stepped up in a big way – and Chris Morrow is grateful.
Morrow, who is the chief global strategist for Dallas-based EchoLight Studios, was caught in a bind when the location for his latest movie – “Redemption” – had to move.
“We were originally slated to shoot in Texas, and that all fell through,” he says during a recent interview. “We were making a Western and decided to check New Mexico out and were able to get it all set up.”
“Redemption” follows Marilyn, played by Erin Bethea, who is rearing her two children as a single mother after her husband was killed.
The family befriends Henry, played by Drew Waters, who knows only a life of crime as a bank robber. Henry’s crew ditches him after a bank robbery gone awry and leaves him for dead. Marilyn’s family takes in Henry and helps him get back on his feet.
As the family goes on a healing journey with Henry, they discover that Henry was responsible for their husband and father’s death and make the decision to still help him out.
“Marilyn and her family inspire Henry to be a better person,” Morrow explains. “The story is how a family can make it through tough times and with faith, make an impact on someone else’s life.”
Crews filmed for 20 days at Bonanza Creek Ranch near Santa Fe. The set is where “3:10 to Yuma” and “Cowboys & Aliens” were filmed.
“Bonanza Creek had everything that we needed, and it was a great find for us,” he explains. “As soon as we got into town, we had to do an entirely new round of casting for small parts and extras. It was like we were re-inventing the wheel.”
Waters, who played Wade Aikman in “Friday Night Lights,” says he’s was impressed with how well the entire shoot went.
“It was a quick shoot, long days but a lot of fun,” he says. “The story has a great message and it’s turned out to be a great Western.”
The film also stars Luce Rains as Sheriff Tom and Ezra Proch and Jaden Roberts as Marilyn’s children, Will and Laura.
Morrow says what attracted him to New Mexico were the locations and the tax incentives.
“When we walked into Bonanza Creek, it was amazing because they really did have everything we needed,” he says. “It was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up and because we took the chance, we were able to make an outstanding film.”
Morrow also credits New Mexico resident Reynaldo Villalobos, who came on as a cinematographer for the film.
“He helped us bring the quality of the film up with his experience and knowledge,” he explains. “I had worked with him before on ‘Like Dandelion Dust’ and he knew how to work with a smaller-budget film.”
Morrow says EchoLight Studios was attracted to “Redemption” because it was a family-friendly film. He says the studios often finance faith-based films but aren’t solely into those films.
“We look for films with a message and something the entire family can watch,” he says. “These are the types of films that energize us and inspire us to make a difference.”
Redemption” is now in post production, and Morrow expects it to be released in 2013.
“We don’t know which quarter it will be released in yet, but we are also looking at the possibilities of creating an entire series around this,” he says. “It’s been an amazing experience and we hope to continue to make movies that everyone can enjoy.”