We began the project Mano a Mano a while back. It seemed at the time that it would be a pretty straightforward project. Well that is until Bruce, the pick up truck, began to behave like Bruce the shark, in Jaws. We went through five tires, a battery, were towed out of the desert nearly every day we shot with the truck, caught on fire and just sometimes stopped working.
Mano a Mano is the story of a group of Latin immigrants crossing the Arizona Boarder illegally. Shortly after crossing they run across two Minutemen in a truck who begin to hunt them down. It is a thriller in the tradition of Spielberg’s Dual and El Norte.
We were lucky our two leads Mesindo Pompa and Luis Villafranca both are phenomenal actors. They brought rare depth to the characters, which is one of the reason the film is getting as much pre-release attention that it is. I myself James Duval and Austin Anderson play the Minutemen. I think we may have be typed cast based on our looks.
Matt Dyer writer/director and Danny Torres producer/DP ran the show. It was a definite group effort on all parts. The entire Continuum Pictures team was involved from its inset. We would leave LA at 4am and drive out to Apple Valley every day.
The film is a testament to the actors and crew’s dedication. It has definitely been quite the journey. Bruce broke down at least three times on the way to the location. Can’t really complain. When you see what we put Bruce the pickup truck through it is amazing it survived at all.
We chose to shoot Mano a Mano in Spanish. The script was originally in English, but as we moved into the material, it was obvious that this film had a voice and that voice was the voice of the people crossing the boarder.
Unlike many chase movies, the film takes the time to explore the reasons for the crossing beyond the standard cliché statements on immigration. Mesindo Pompa’s character is driven by his own past, while Luis Villafranca’s is driven by a dream.
Danny Torres, the son of immigrants from El Salvador, found a way to guide this film as a DP and Producer that has kept the film fresh and new. When Matt could not be on the set, Danny would take the helm. This is definitely a team vision, down to the dialogue.
worked with Matt through many drafts before giving his green light. It has become the flagship project for Continuum Pictures and its move into the studio system. It shows how a little company started in the San Francisco Bay area, can come to LA and actually make a movie.
Continuum Pictures since mid 2007 as of this date has completed five features from pre to post, Convict directed by Austin Anderson, The Absent directed by Jason Durdon, Sabor Tropical directed by Jorge Ameer, Ocean Front Property directed by Joseph Neibich and Mano a Mano. Additionally Continuum Pictures has reposted House of Adam directed by Jorge Ameer, posted Ten Cents Short directed by Austin Anderson, and many short films.
Mano a Mano represents a leap in Continuum Pictures production ability. These lessons now take us into our next slate of projects. The whole team moves forward, with us recasting Mesindo Pompa and Luis Villa Franca in roles, as well embracing a new set of directors from our team, Quan Tran, David Scruggs, P. David Miller and Tyler Ross.
A movie is often a metaphor for the life experience of its director. Mano a Mano has become that metaphor for us as filmmakers and as a company. The Continuum Pictures team has learned along the way, you really have to want to be here and do this for it to work. Mano a Mano is the journey of two men who want to really be here. It is a reflection of the American Dream and the difficulties in finding it.