Girl In Progress
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Lionsgate Presents

Director of Photography CHECCO VARESE ASC
Co-Produced by Christopher Dalton

PANTELION FILMS presents the family comedy Girl in Progress, starring Eva Mendes (The Other Guys, Hitch, Training Day), Cierra Ramirez, Matthew Modine (The Dark Knight Rises), Patricia Arquette (A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III; Medium)  and Eugenio Derbez (Under the Same Moon; No Eres Tu, Soy Yo), directed by Patricia Riggen (Under the Same Moon) from a screenplay by Hiram Martinez.


Directed by Patricia Riggen (Under the Same Moon) and adapted from a screenplay written by Hiram Martinez, Girl in Progress tells the story of Grace (Eva Mendes), a single mom who is too busy juggling work, bills and relationships, to give her daughter, Ansiedad (Cierra Ramirez) the attention she desperately needs. When Ansiedad's English teacher, Ms. Armstrong (Patricia Arquette), introduces her students to classic coming-of-age stories, Ansiedad is inspired to skip adolescence and jump-start her life without mom. While Grace becomes preoccupied with the increasing affections of her co-worker (Eugenio Derbez), Ansiedad enlists the help of her loyal friend, Tavita (Disney star Raini Rodriguez), to plot her shortcut to "adulthood." But as her misguided plan unravels, Ansiedad and Grace must learn that sometimes growing-up means acting your age.

It’s all in the writing: The Genesis of GIRL IN PROGRESS

Screenwriter Hiram Martinez -- Dominican-born, New York raised -- had written and directed the small indie Four Dead Batteries and was working as an editor for Keith Olbermann when the idea for GIRL IN PROGRESS hit. “I was thinking about growth, and how we each live through unique coming-of-age stories that shape us, when the light bulb went off... what if a girl willingly stages her own coming-of-age story?” Steeped in his Dominican roots but with a passion for indie fare like Thirteen and Rushmore, Martinez’s script grew out of those sensibilities.

He named his protagonist Ansiedad, the Spanish word for anxiety, explaining, “there’s no word Dominicans won’t turn into someone’s name. My grandmother was named ‘Light,’ I knew a girl named ‘Sadness’ growing up, doomed to neurotic dysfunction; so naming a teen Ansiedad/Anxiety said two things -- how she feels and what kind of world she comes from.”
But who or what would a teen named Ansiedad spend her story rebelling against? “Grace was a no brainer,” Martinez says. “It’s the timeless clash between mother and daughter.”

Martinez modeled Grace after women he knew growing up; he decided Grace should have still been a child herself when Ansiedad was born. “Her youth slipped through her fingers and Grace subconsciously pegged it on her daughter,” adds Martinez, “so the mother never really became an adult. The script all clicked after that: a girl decides to grow up because her mother refuses to.”

As for Ansiedad's classmates, Martinez split the difference, modeling some after high school archetypes and a few after the real deal. The plucky and loyal Tavita, played by Raini Rodriguez, was closer to the writer's heart; "Tavita represents the early faithful companion you kinda grow up with but then leave behind so you can branch out in a different teenage direction, and it ends up sucking for both of you, doesn't it? " Trevor, played by Landon Liboiron, was inspired by "the sort of kid every guy wishes he had been at that age -- a tractor beam for girls! Popular, good looking, rebellious, but if you asked him about his life maybe some dark stuff would seep out."

In 2009 Martinez applied for a Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship, sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Ten finalists were selected that year from more than 6,000 submissions. Martinez was one. His screenplay circulated to agents, producers and studios around Hollywood.

“I was getting a lot of calls.  And then I got the call.”  Greg Coote and Robert Lundberg of Latitude Entertainment read the script and responded to its original voice.  Coote is a veteran of international production who most recently ran Dune Entertainment, which co-financed Avatar and 500 Days of Summer.  The script was then sent over to Jim McNamara and Ben Odell, who were in the process of folding their Latino-focused production company, Panamax Films, into Pantelion Films, a joint venture between Lionsgate and Televisa.  They decided to option the material together.

“Ben and I had been making movies in Spanish for a few years and as we shifted out focus to English, we wanted to find stories that were unique and original, universal but with a certain Latino flavor,’ says Former Telemundo CEO and Prexy Jim McNamara. 

 “First and foremost the GIRL IN PROGRESS script was very entertaining but it was also smart with a capital S. It had a unique voice, an original point of view.  And I have never come across a Hispanic character as original and articulate as Ansiedad or as layered and complex as Grace.  We were all just riveted by the material.  These are the kinds of movies we want to bring to our audience, stuff that stands out in any marketplace,” adds Odell.

The Right Director

The producers were looking for a director capable of grounding the emotional aspects of the story with the material’s quirky sensibility.  They turned to director Patricia Riggen.  Riggen, who had won a Student Academy Award for her short fiction film La Milpa (The Cornfield), and the grand jury prize at Sundance for her short documentary, Family Portrait, burst onto the feature scene with Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), which earned a 15-minute standing ovation when it premiered at Sundance in 2007.  It was sold to the Weinstein Company and Fox Searchlight in a bidding war.  It did nearly 12 million dollars in US box office and 22 million dollars worldwide, making it one of the highest grossing Spanish language films of all times.   Her next film was the Disney TV movie Lemonade Mouth, which debuted spring 2011 to strong ratings.  “It just made sense to us.  She has a natural ability to evoke strong emotions in her audience.  It’s rare that a director can move you from tears to joy so fluidly.  We really wanted to target female Hispanics for this movie and Patricia just felt like right choice,” commented McNamara.

“After La Misma Luna, every Hispanic flavored script in Hollywood was sent my way,” says Riggen.  “But I’m not really interested in movies just because they are Hispanic.  I’m interested in great storytelling.  I like movies about emotions, and GIRL IN PROGRESS had the potential to be really funny and moving.  Its about mothers and daughters and how complicated their relationships can be.  Every woman I know has a complicated relationship with her mother including me!  That’s what really drew me in.”

Finding Grace

The producers knew Grace would be a difficult role to cast.  She needed to be beautiful, funny, damaged, complicated, and contradictory; in a nutshell, she needed to be played by Eva Mendes.  As fate would have it, Mendes loved the script.  “The hardest part about running a Latino-focused studio is finding actors who have star power internationally and a strong following here in the US.  When I started the company we made a list of the actors we wanted to work with and Eva Mendes was at the top.  We were so excited to have her come on board.  It made GIRL IN PROGRESS something very special,” comments Paul Presburger, CEO of Pantelion Films.  “We couldn’t be happier with the result.”

“I’m at a place in my career where I’m really only interested in playing unique and challenging roles,” says Mendes.  “When I read this script I immediately fell in love with Grace.   She was so beautifully flawed and complicated.  She was a really bad mother on some level but a really good person and that was an interesting place to start her journey.  I already knew Patricia’s work as a director.  I called my manager right away and said, ‘Let’s do this.”

Anxious for ‘Ansiedad’

The team had their Grace but finding the right girl to play the character of Ansiedad was daunting. “This role requires a girl to play a multitude of personas.   And she needs to be broken on the inside while showing this carefree quirky exterior to the world.  Very tricky,” says Odell. 

Kerry Barden and Paul Schnee cast the movie.  With films as diverse as The Help, Dolphin Tale and Winter’s Bone, the two have launched the careers of countless actors.   “We looked at hundreds of girls before Patricia found the one, she is merciless when it comes to choosing her actors,” adds Odell. 

“When I cast La Misma Luna, I decided I wouldn’t make the movie if I couldn’t find the right little boy to play the lead.  For the role of Ansiedad, it was the same thing,” recalls Riggen.  “We looked at so many wonderful girls but none of them was just right.”  And then they were introduced to a young actress named Cierra Ramirez.

Raised in LA, Ramirez is the daughter of a Colombian father and Mexican American mother.  She had appeared in CSI, Desperate Housewives, had a recurring role on Disney’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and played the lead role, ‘Stella,’ in the Nickelodeon TV Movie Star and Stella Save the World. 

Cierra’s family moved to Houston, Texas and she took a two year break from acting.  She had just begun return to acting when she heard about GIRL IN PROGRESS.  Her manager submitted a clip of Ramirez singing an R&B number on NBC’s Showtime at the Apollo when she was ten years old.  “She looked like a miniature Aretha Franklin, you could see this adult trapped inside of a child’s body, so much grace and confidence,” says Riggen.  “And then she read for the part and sent it over on Youtube and we decided to bring her in to LA to read with Eva.”

“I just loved the part from the minute I read it.  It was so different from most of the roles that Hispanic kids get to play,” remembers Ramirez fondly.   “I told my father I had to get this part.  I was so nervous meeting Eva.  She’s an idol of mine, so beautiful and graceful.  She was really supportive during the audition,” remembers Ramirez. 

Adds Riggen: “They look like mother and daughter.  And they had chemistry right away.  I called the producers and told them we could make our movie.”

Rounding Out the Cast

Grace has two romantic interests in the film, and the two couldn’t be more different. Dr. Harford is a handsome, charming, and married gynecologist.  “I think it’s not good to judge characters.  Even though Harford is not the most honorable guy on the planet it was important to me to find someone with a certain warmth and humanity to make him more complex,” says Riggen.

Matthew Modine was perfect for the role.  Modine, who stars in the newest Batman, The Dark Knight Rises, has played the lead in movies directed by Oscar winning directors such as Stanley Kubrick, Robert Altman, Oliver Stone, John Schlesinger, and Jonathan Demme.  “He has this boyish charm and energy that makes him impossible to hate even when he is cheating on his wife,” laughs Riggen.  “And he’s an amazing actor.”

Grace’s other love interest is Mission Impossible, a bus boy in the restaurant where Grace holds her second job.   For Mission, Riggen recruited Eugenio Derbez, Mexico’s preeminent comedian whose film career was launched with a scene stealing performance in Riggen’s Under the Same Moon.  “Eugenio is instantly loveable in everything he does.  And I wanted him to bring his brand of humor to the role of Mission.  Every time I watch the movie I discover more nuances in his performance.  He’s one of Mexico’s greatest treasures.”

For the role of Ms. Armstrong, Ansiedad’s teacher and the unwitting inspiration for her coming of age plot, Patricia Arquette was an easy choice.  “She is so fun to watch.  Her choices are so subtle and specific.” says Riggen.

When it came to casting the roles of Tavita and Trevor, Raini Rodriguez and Landon Liboiron proved to be great finds. “Both these characters had to be really likable, even while traversing difficult emotional terrain. I think Raini and Landon are not only hugely endearing charismatic, they are actors dedicated to their craft. The dynamic between all the younger actors, especially Landon, Raini, and Cierra was great; they’re like the Brat Pack for the new millennium,” says Odell.

For the role of Emile, the owner of the crab shack where Grace works, they brought in Canadian Russell Peters.  Peters, one of the highest paid stand up comedians in the world, brought humor on set and off.  “He would stand by the catering truck and make fun of everyone who walked by.   I wish he was on for the entire show,” laughs Odell.  “And the Canadian crew was so impressed we had him in the movie.  He’s God-like in Canada.  I don’t know why, but they produce some of the world’s funniest people.  Must be all the beer they consume.”

A Special Appearance

Award winning platinum artist Espinoza Paz also makes his feature film debut.  Paz plays Mission Impossible’s flirtatious cousin who performs at a party that Mission Impossible takes Grace to.  “Espinoza works with some close friends of mine and I thought it would be really great to bring him into the project.  He sings a couple of his most popular songs in the movie.   Even in a few scenes you can tell he could be a movie star if he wanted to.  For his fans it will be a great treat to see him in the movie, for people who don’t know him, it’s an excellent way to introduce one of the most popular Mexican regional artists working today.  It gives the film some spice,” says Riggen.

Shooting in Vancouver

While the script took place in a non-descript American city, it was important for the filmmakers that the movie didn’t take place in a typical Latino-populated city such as Chicago, New York, Miami or Los Angeles.  “We were excited to steer from the clichés and typical expectations of Hispanic stories and show the United States as it really is.  Latinos are everywhere and are fully integrated into the world around them.  We never see that in films,” says Riggen.  

Vancouver often doubles for Seattle, and seemed a perfect fit for the story.   “I was thrilled to use Vancouver as a backdrop,” says Riggen.  “It sits right on the ocean and has some spectacular scenery.  I think it gave a very specific and original look to the movie.”

Relationships in Progress

Patricia Riggen on Eva:  “It was a blast to work with Eva.  She is such a pro, you forget she is a major star.  She just rolls up her sleeves and gets dirty.  She really worked hard to find Grace.  She’s so fun to watch in the movie, how she grows and becomes a woman right in front of your eyes.”

Riggen on Cierra:“She was so nervous the first couple of days,” remembers Riggen.  “And then something just clicked.  She just became her character.  You could see her growing more and more confident as the shoot went on.  Its going to be amazing to watch her career as an actor.  She is going to be a star if she wants to.”

Cierra on Eva: “She called me Mini-Me on set.” “She was horsing around with me all the time.   Her character is really immature and she would play that role off-screen.  I don’t know if she method acting or just messing with my head!  She bet 100 dollars I wouldn’t chew a piece of gum on the ground.  I’m a hundred bucks richer now

Eva on Cierra: “I first saw Cierra Ramirez on a youtube clip singing her heart out.  She was just a little girl but she commanded the Apollo stage holding the audience in the palm of her hand.  She is an incredibly soulful singer, but her talent doesn’t stop there, she’s also a very gifted actress.  I feel lucky to have worked with such fine talent. 

A Family Affair

“I really wanted to work with brighter colors but with a lot of contrast and texture,” says Riggen.  “I didn’t want it to feel like a typical dark indie movie.” 
Riggen doesn’t have a hard time getting what she wants from the director of photography, Checco Varese.  Not only has he shot all of her films to date, they are also married.

“Checco and Patricia work as one.  They can complete each other’s sentences.  And you never feel any tension between them,” says Odell.  “The movie looks gorgeous as a result.”

Riggen also had her four year old daughter, on location with her in Vancouver.  “It was interesting to make a movie about mothers and daughters while I’m raising my own daughter.  It really made me reflect on that relationship and my relationship with my own mother.  It’s kind of funny and scary to see how your parents’ traits are passed down to you and how you pass them to your kids.  Especially the things you don’t like about yourself!  The movie really touches on that, how we become like our parents and how terrifying that can be.” 

Her first feature, La Misma Luna, told the story a child who crosses the physical border of Mexico to find his mother in Los Angeles.  GIRL IN PROGRESS tells the story of a mother and daughter crossing emotional borders.  “When I made La Misma Luna I didn’t have children and when I look at the movie now, there are things that I see much differently.  With Girl in Progress I was able to draw from a much more emotional place.”

Bringing it Back Home

Dan Schalk, who has edited major Hollywood comedies for directors such as Todd Phillips and Jim Field Smith, came on to edit the film with Riggen.  With strong performances from her cast, editing the film was a pleasant, not painful, experience.  But it was defining the tone of the film through music where Riggen tried to push boundaries.

“We have a couple of Mexican regional songs in the film but otherwise we really wanted a soundtrack that was young, energetic and new.”  Music supervisor Howard Paar introduced Riggen to recording artist Reni Lane.  Lane wrote an original song for the film called Shake the Tree.  She also brought in Christopher Lennertz (Horrible Bosses) to score the film.  Lennertz and Riggen had collaborated on Lemonade Mouth.  “Chris is fantastic.  He is so fast and creative and we found a sound that really works for the movie, its emotional but has also has a kind of playfulness the really captures the tone of the movie.”

“I’m very proud of this movie,’ says Riggen.  “I’ve always wanted to make a fun mainstream film with Hispanic stars.  We are just part of the American fabric and I love being able to tell universal stories with characters who look and speak like me.  I wish there were movies like that out there.  I guess we have to just keep making them ourselves.”


Eva Mendes (Grace)

Eva Mendes captured the attention of moviegoers in a small, but pivotal role in the critically acclaimed film, Training Day.  Since then, she has proved to be adept in both comedic and dramatic roles.  She has had the opportunity to work with an esteemed and diverse group of directors and co-stars, earning the reputation as a serious actress who is committed to her craft. 

Mendes’ first serious role came when she was cast as Denzel Washington’s girlfriend in Training Day for director Antoine Fuqua.  Her portrayal led to the celebrated director, Carl Franklin, hiring Mendes for the MGM feature Out of Time, once more starring opposite Denzel Washington.  In the same year, Mendes appeared in Robert Rodriguez’s film, Once Upon a Time in Mexico opposite Johnny Depp.  Mendes has also starred in the action blockbuster 2 Fast 2 Furious, the comedy feature film, All About the Benjamins, opposite Ice Cube, and the Farrelly Brothers comedy, Stuck on You, opposite Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear. 

Eva went on to star opposite Will Smith and Kevin James in the Columbia Pictures comedy blockbuster, Hitch.  She subsequently co-starred in Trust the Man, opposite Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Billy Crudup, directed by Bart Freundlich and starred opposite Nicolas Cage in Sony Pictures’ supernatural action-adventure, Ghost Rider, based on the Marvel Comic.  The film broke box office records around the world in its opening weekend, grossing well over $200 million worldwide to date. 

She starred in the gritty, critically-acclaimed 2007 drama, We Own the Night, opposite Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duval, as well as the independent feature, Live!, which also marked her debut as an executive producer.  Eva co-starred in the all-star remake of The Women, for director/writer/producer Diane English, with Meg Ryan, Annette Bening, Debra Messing and Jada Pinkett-Smith, as well as the fantasy thriller, The Spirit opposite Samuel L. Jackson, Gabriel Macht and Scarlett Johanssen, directed by Sin City and 300 creator Frank Miller.  She starred in Werner Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans as well as The Other Guys alongside Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg. Eva recently starred in Last Night opposite Keira Knightley and Sam Worthington.  She recently completed production on Derek Cianfrance's  drama The Place Beyond the Pines alongside Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper.

Eva has been a part of numerous prestigious international advertising and endorsement campaigns. She is currently the face of Thierry Mugler’s “Angel” Fragrance, as well as a celebrity ambassador for Pantene and Reebok.

Eva participated in Glamour Reel Moments, a program that gives women in Hollywood the opportunity to direct a short film based on their reader’s real life stories. She debuted her short, entitled California Romanza in October 2010.

Design and textiles have always been a passion of Eva's, which led to the launch of an original home décor line, Vida. Their first Vida bedding collection debuted exclusively at Macy’s stores across the country in Fall 2008 and an extension of the line was introduced in June 2009.

Mendes, who is Cuban-American, was born in Miami in 1975 and raised in Los Angeles, where her mother was as an accountant for an aerospace company and her father worked as a meat distributor.

Cierra Ramirez (Ansiedad)

Cierra is best known for her recurring role of ‘Jasmine’ on The Disney Channel’s “The Sweet Life of Zack and Cody.” She played the lead role, ‘Stella,’ in the Nickelodeon TV Movie Star and Stella Save the World.  She has also appeared in such TV Series as “Desperate Housewives,” “Zoey 101,” and “CSI: Miami.” She made her feature film debut in ALL IN starring Dominique Swain and Michael Madsen.

Besides a burgeoning acting career, Cierra is an accomplished singer.  Since the age of 7, Cierra has performed in public.  At 10, she performed at ‘Showtime at the Apollo.”  She was also an opening act for the likes of “Earth Wind and Fire,” “Chicago” and American Idol’s Ruben Studdard, Kimberly Coldwell and Ace Young.

Cierra, who was born and raised in Houston, Texas, now divides her time between Houston and Los Angeles, California.

Patricia Arquette (Ms. Armstrong)

Patricia Arquette has just completed seven seasons as Allison Dubois on the critically-acclaimed series “Medium,” for which she has received numerous accolades, including an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, and many subsequent Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG nominations. Arquette recently wrapped shooting Patricia Riggen’s Girl in Progress opposite Eva Mendes and is currently shooting Roman Coppola’s “A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III”.

Her feature film credits include Richard Linklater’s “12 Year Movie a.k.a. Boyhood,” which shot the life of a boy from the first grade through high school graduation; Andrew Davis’ “Holes,” starring opposite Sigourney Weaver and Jon Voight; Michel Gondry’s “Human Nature”; “The Badge,” opposite Billy Bob Thornton; and “Little Nicky,” opposite Adam Sandler.

Arquette has worked with a stellar list of directors in such critically-acclaimed films as: Martin Scorsese’s “Bringing Out the Dead” (opposite Nicolas Cage), Rupert Wainwright’s “Stigmata” (opposite Gabriel Byrne), Sean Penn’s “The Indian Runner,” John Madden’s “Ethan Frome,” Tony Scott’s “True Romance,” Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood,” David O. Russell’s “Flirting With Disaster,” John Boorman’s “Beyond Rangoon,” “Lost Highway” (in a dual role for David Lynch), Steven Frears’ “Hi Lo Country” and Roland Jaffe’s “Goodbye Lover.”

Among Arquette’s TV movie credits is “Wildflower,” directed by Diane Keaton, for which Arquette earned a CableAce Award as Best Lead Actress.

 The granddaughter of comedian Cliff Arquette (best known for his television personality “Charlie Weaver”), Arquette comes from a family ensconced in the entertainment industry.  Her father was actor Lewis Arquette and her siblings – Rosanna, Alexis, Richmond and David Arquette – are all actors.
Last spring, after visiting Haiti and seeing first-hand the destruction caused by the devastating earthquake that hit the island, Arquette started the charity GiveLove, to help provide victims of the Haiti earthquake with sustainable housing and assist in rebuilding communities in the aftermath of the disaster.  For further information on GiveLove, please visit 

Born in Chicago, Arquette currently resides in Los Angeles, where she was raised. 

Raini Rodriguez (Tavita)

A native of Texas, Raini Rodriguez moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to pursue her dream of acting and singing.

Soon after being discovered at a nation-wide talent competition, Raini began working in television. Known by Disney fans for her role of “Betsy” in the Sleepover Suite episode of Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody,” Raini also starred as the memorable Arlene Roca” aka “Annoying Arlene” in Disney XD’s “I’m in the Band”. Some of her other television credits are Nickelodeon’s “True Jackson,” Showtime’s “Huff”, and ABC’s “Family of the Year”. Movie-going audiences embraced Raini in her feature film debut “Paul Blart: Mall Cop”, where she starred as Kevin James’ daughter.

Raini recently starred in Disney’s Feature Film “Prom” as Tess. Filming Prom came at a perfect time in Raini’s life since she was homeschooled and didn’t have a prom of her own.  She recently completed filming Disney’s new show “Austin and Alley.” 

Landon Libroiron (Trevor)

Landon Liboiron currently stars in the Spielberg produced “Terra Nova.”

He has worked extensively on Canadian productions, most recently as a series regular on the popular teen drama “Degrassi: The Next Generation.”

His additional television credits include “Wild Roses,” “Flashpoint,” “Don’t Cry Now,” “Crossroads: A Story of Forgiveness,” “The Dark Room” and “Mayerthorpe,” for which he won an AMPIA Award for Best Alberta Actor. Stateside, he most recently appeared in a recurring role on the drama “Life Unexpected.”

Liboiron’s film credits include Altitude, Zombie Punch, Passchendaele, Moondance Alexander, Run Rabbit Run and Broken House.  He also has a strong theater background, appearing in productions of “The Jungle Book,” “Treasure Island,” “Red Riding Hood” and “Aladdin.”

When not filming “Terra Nova”, 19-year-old Liboiron resides in Alberta, Canada, with his parents and two older brothers.

Espinoza Paz

Isidro Chavez Espinoza, better known as Espinoza Paz, has had numerous radio hits, awards, and is ranked today as one of the most prolific and popular singer-songwriters in the Regional Mexican music genre. 

Espinoza is distinguished in the music world as one of the most successful composers, creating many chart topping hits. 

At the tender age of 12, Espinoza Paz experienced love for the very first time and wrote her.  Soon after he became known as” The Artist of the School.”  This became the beginning of his growth as a singer-songwriter. 

Espinoza was born on October 29th, in the picturesque village of La Angostura, north of Sinaloa, Mexico.  At the age of 13, Espinoza suffered the terrible loss of his mother, who always believed in him and urged him to become an artist despite people’s ridicule and doubt.  In honor of his mother, who never saw him on stage, he decided to use Espinoza Paz as his artistic name. 

After his mother’s death, Espinoza and his father migrated to California to work in the fields, picking tomatoes and other crops.  One day, when he was 17 years old, he woke up with the idea of fulfilling what his mother always encouraged him to do.  After many unsuccessful attempts, Espinoza returned to his village in La Angostura. 

Espinoza dedicated years to knocking on doors, singing in regional bands, looking for opportunities.  However, his big break as a composer came when showed his work to an artist known as “El Coyote,” who went on to record several of his hit songs such as, “Besitos en el Cuello,” “Prohibido,” and “Para Impresionarte.”    

In December 2006, during a wedding, Espinoza met Artist Management mogul Martin Fabian.  Fabian immediately recognized the young singer-songwriter’s talent and made plans to record Espinoza’s first album, “El Cantautor del Pueblo.”

Espinoza Paz has been undoubtedly accepted by his peers; his songs have already been remade by bands and artist such as “La Arrolladora Banda el Limon de Rene Camacho,” “Jenni Rivera,” “Sergio Vega,” Montez de Durango,” “Banda Cuisillos,” “El Coyote y Su Banda Tierra Santa,” “Lupillo Rivera,” and “Duelo” to name a few.

The talent and inspiration is evident, he has not only managed to dominate the Regional Mexican World, but has also crossed over into the International Pop Genre.  Artists such as Thalia and David Bisbal have both included Espinoza Paz’s songs in their albums. 

Espinoza Paz is undoubtedly one of the most influential young artists in the Regional Mexican Genre today, but has maintained a humble demenanor, which has won him a remarkable place in the hearts of his peers and most importantly his fans earning him the nickname, “El Cantautor del Pueblo.”


Patricia Riggen (Director)
Patricia Riggen was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. She began her film career as a writer for a television documentary series produced by Bertha Navarro (Pan’s Labyrinth) in her native Guadalajara. She later moved to Mexico City to work as a Creative Executive for the Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), where she produced short films, commercials and documentaries. She is a recipient of the National Fund for the Arts and Culture in Mexico.

Patricia moved to New York City in 1998 where she studied for her master's degree in Directing and Screenwriting at Columbia University. Her first short film, La Milpa, screened in over 30 international film festivals and received 20 awards; among them the Student Academy Award, the Mexican Academy Award for Best Short Film, the Student “Emmy” and the DGA Best Latino Student Filmmaker Award. It aired on television in many countries, including on HBO in the United States. Patricia's next film, Family Portrait, a documentary about poverty in Harlem featuring Gordon Parks, also screened at numerous festivals collecting several awards, among them the Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film at Sundance '05, and the Best Documentary Award at the Aspen Short Film Festival.

Patricia directed and produced her first feature, Under the Same Moon (La Misma Luna), which premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival to a standing ovation, and was quickly acquired for worldwide distribution by Fox Searchlight and The Weinstein Company.  Other festivals featuring the film include the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and Opening Night of the 2008 Miami International Film Festival.  It was released theatrically in March 2008 to opening-weekend record numbers for a Spanish language film in the US. It is the 3rd highest grossing Mexican film of all time in the US and the 5th in its own country.

Patricia released a short film for the ensemble feature Revolucion, which premiered at the 2010 Berlinale Festival followed by screening at the Cannes Critics’ Week and the 2010 New York Film Festival.

She most recently directed Lemonade Mouth for the Disney Channel which premiered in April 2011. In the first two airings, the two hour telecast garnered 12.5 million viewers.

Hiram Martinez (Screenwriter)

Hiram Martinez was born in Santiago, Dominican Republic, and learned to speak English watching cable TV. His family moved to New Jersey, where he studied briefly at Saint Peter’s College before dropping out to pursue a career in television editing.

During his time in cable news he saw both political coasts, working first for The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News and later for MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

Around this time, he wrote and directed the micro-budget feature comedy Four Dead Batteries, winner of several Best Screenplay, Best Comedy, and Best Feature awards during its festival run, and named a “Critic’s Favorite” by the Village Voice in 2005.

Hiram became a 2009 Nicholl Fellowship finalist for his coming-of-age screenplay ANSIEDAD now known as GIRL IN PROGRESS. His most recent work includes adapting the play Dusty and the Big Bad World for Jon Hamm and Jennifer Westfeldt’s Points West Pictures, and the road comedy Flying Paper Airplanes.

Benjamin Odell (Producer)

Odell runs production for Pantelion Films, the joint venture between Lionsgate and Grupo Televisa.   In his role at Pantelion, Odell develops and produces films aimed at the Hispanic market in the US. 

Odell served as Executive Producer on the Pantelion production From Prada to Nada, starring Camilla Belle, Wilmer Valderrama and Adriana Barraza and directed by Angel Gracia.  From Prada to Nada bowed in January of 2011.

Odell produced the independently financed Un Cuento Chino (a Spanish/Argentinean co-production), starring Ricardo Darin (El Secreto de Sus Ojos, Oscar for best foreign film 2010) and written and directed by Sebastian Borensztein.  Chino is the highest grossing film in Argentina this year, and is breaking records in Uruguay, Brazil, Portugal and Spain and is opening in new territories every month. 

Prior to Pantelion, Odell was president of production at Panamax Films.
Odell produced the art house Spanish language thriller Sangre de mi Sangre.   Sangre (under its then title, Padre Nuestro) won the grand jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival (2007) and played at New Directors/New Film at Museum of Modern Art in New York in the Spring of 2007.  It was an official selection in more than a dozen major international films festivals including the San Sebastian Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival, Havana Film Festival, and Pusan International Film Festival and was the closing night film at the Morelia Film Festival in Mexico. It was released by IFC Films in May 2008.  Sangre received two Independent Spirit Awards nominations for Best First Feature (for which Odell was nominated) and Best Screenplay.

Odell produced the action/comedy, Ladron que Roba Ladron, financed and released by Lionsgate in August 2007.  At the time of its release it held the record for the biggest box office opening weekend for a Spanish language film in US history. 

Odell was an Executive Producer on the film, La Mujer de Mi Hermano, distributed by Lionsgate, in April of 2006.  Prior to the release of Ladron, La Mujer held the record as the largest opening weekend box office for a Spanish language film.

Odell lived in Colombia, South America from 1992 to 2000.  He first worked as a freelance journalist before becoming a Spanish language television writer and screenwriter there. As a television writer, he created and wrote over 300 hours of Spanish-language narrative television including the first ever action series, Fuego Verde, which was one of the highest rated series on Colombian television. Fuego Verde had an average rating its first year on the air of 38 points Nielsen, representing nearly a third of the country’s households.  His shows also won dozens of national awards.  He also co-wrote the Colombian political satire feature film, Golpe de Estadio, which was nominated for Spain’s Academy Award, the Goya, in 1999, and was Colombia’s nomination to the Oscar in 2000. It is still one of the ten highest grossing Colombian films of all time.

Odell holds an MFA in film from Columbia University. 

Robert Lundberg (Executive Producer)

Robert Lundberg is the head of production and development at Latitude Entertainment, Greg Coote’s all-encompassing media production firm.  Current projects include The Harrowing with producer Paris Tanaka, Will Boyd’s The Last Harvest with producer John Fiedler, Shakespearean comedy Sonnet, also with producer John Fiedler, and to be directed by Suri Krishnama, Full Throttle with producer Sukee Chew, and Vengeance with writer/director John Soto.  He also consults for China Lion Film Distribution, which specializes in releasing Mandarin and Cantonese-language films across North America.

Previous to his tenure at Latitude Entertainment, Robert worked with Coote/Hayes Productions on their slate of projects which included TNT’s “Nightmares & Dreamscapes” and “Salem’s Lot.”  He started his career at Paramount Studios, working in their Home Entertainment department, charged with managing all product at Zellers Canada, Sam’s Club and eventually taking over the North American Walmart account, the company’s number one home entertainment client in the world.  He graduated from Purdue University with a double major in Film Studies and Communication, and a double minor in Political Science and English.

James McNamara (Executive Producer)

James McNamara is the founder and Chairman of Panamax Films, the largest producer of Latino films in the US.  In partnership with Televisa and Lionsgate, McNamara is Chairman of Pantelion Films a theatrical motion picture production and distribution company that targets the US Latino market.  McNamara is also Chairman of Cinelatino Inc., the most widely distributed Spanish language movie channel in the US Hispanic cable marketplace.

From 1999 – 2005 McNamara was President and Chief Executive Office of Telemundo Communications Group, Inc.  During his time at Telemundo, Mr. McNamara sold the Company to NBC and oversaw Telemundo’s transformation from acquirer of finished product to the most dynamic producer of Spanish language television content in the world.

From 1996 – 1998 McNamara was President of Universal Television Enterprises.  During his tenure at Universal he was responsible for worldwide television distribution as well as production of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Sally Jesse Raphael and Jerry Springer.

From 1991 – 1995 Mr. McNamara was Chief Executive Officer of New World Entertainment.  He started his career at the sports management company, International Management Group.

He was born and raised in the Republic of Panama and resides with his wife and family in Miami, FL.

Greg Coote (Executive Producer)

Greg Coote was the Chairman and CEO of Dune Entertainment, when the company co-financed the world’s highest grossing film of all time, James Cameron’s AVATAR. 

To date, the film has earned over $3 billion worldwide. 

As joint Managing Director of Roadshow he played a key role in developing Australia’s fledgling film industry.  He left Roadshow and joined Rupert Murdoch as Managing Director of the Ten Network and was credited with leading it from last to first place in the ratings.  He then joined Columbia Pictures in Los Angeles as President, International Theatrical, where he was responsible for worldwide acquisition, marketing and distribution. 

Coote rejoined Village Roadshow when it became publicly listed and was appointed to the parent board.  As the founding President and CEO of Village Roadshow Pictures in Los Angeles, he established the company as a respected player with 10 consecutive years of profits and forged a multi-million-dollar production deal with Warner Bros. that exists to this day.  He was also responsible for giving the greenlight to The Matrix, which proved to be a billion dollar franchise.

He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and sits on the Boards of Alnoor Holdings of Qatar, Eros International PLC of India and the Advisory Board to the Singapore Government’s Media Development Authority.

Checco Varese (Director of Photography)

Born in Peru, Checco began his career as a news cameraman working for all of the major news networks, including NBC, CNN, CBS, CBC (Canada), BBC (UK), RAI (Italy) and TVE (Spain).  From 1985 to 1994,Varese specialized in shooting the world’s major areas of conflict from Mexico, Central and South America (Chiapas Uprising, Salvador and Nicaragua Wars, Panama Invasion, Columbia Drug War, Shining Path, Haiti Crisis, Chile Military Junta), to Europe (Bosnia Crisis, Chechnya Crisis), the Middle East (Gulf War, West Bank and Gaza Strip Crisis) and Africa (South African Riots and the Rwanda Crisis).

Mr. Varese retired from news only to become one of the leading Latin American directors of photography.  He has shot hundreds of music videos, including Dave Matthew’s Band “Crash” and Prince’s “Black Sweat” for which he was nominated for Best Cinematography at the 2006 MTV VMA Awards.   Varese’s visual talent and expertise is sought after by TV commercial clients such as McDonalds, Budweiser, Miller Lite Beer, Bell South and Dannon Yogurt. His television and feature films credits include Their Eyes Were Watching God, starring Halle Barry and produced by Ophrah Winfrey, El Aura, the follow-up film from Nine Queens director Fabian Bielinsky, the Showtime mini-series, Fidel, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, the box office and audience success Under the Same Moon, directed by Patricia Riggen.

Dan Schalk (Editor)

Dan Schalk has worked in the film industry in Los Angeles since graduating from the University of Iowa in 1986.  At Iowa’s world-renowned “Writers’ Workshop”, Dan focused on writing with an eye towards a career as a screenwriter.

After spending some time in an editing room with Roger Spottiswoode (Under Fire, Turner & Hooch) on the HBO film Third Degree Burn, Dan shifted his focus from writing to editing.  He was soon cutting low budget films for legendary producer Roger Corman at Concorde Pictures.   During his stint with Concorde, Dan cut the film Ultra Warriors for Luis Llosa (The Professional) and soon after moved into bigger budget studio films.  He has worked under the supervision of some of the best film editors in Hollywood on such films as;Little Man Tate for Orion, Lynzee Klingman, editor  (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Outbreak), Jodie Foster director, Straight Talk for Disney, Michael Tronick editor (Meet Joe Black, Day’s of Thunder), High Fidelity for Touchstone Pictures,  editor (Interview with a Vampire, Seven Monkey’s), Unconditional Love for New Line, Oscar winner Robert C. Jones editor (Shampoo),  Road to Perdition starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman,  editor (Moulin Rouge, Romeo & Juliet) directed by Oscar winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty).  Dan moved up to full editor on Todd Phillip’s Starsky and Hutch for Warner Bros. in 2004.  His credits since then include; School for Scoundrels, Todd Phillips director, Superhero Movie, She’s Out of My League and Butter for director Jim Field Smith as well as many independent films.

Linda del Rosario and Richard Paris (Production Designers)

Production designers Linda del Rosario and Richard Paris have worked together as a team on at least 40 films as co-production designers.

Del Rosario was the production designer on Atom Egoyan’s Family Viewing and Speaking Parts before she partnered with Richard Paris.  Together they designed Deepa Mehta’s Sam and Me, Egoyan’s The Adjuster and Exotica, which won them a Genie Award for Best Production Design, as well as Never Talk to Strangers, Firestorm, Trixie, Steal This Movie and Gray Matters.

Among their television credits are the series Killer Instinct, UC: Undercover, Still Life, Black Sash, Strange Frequency and Level 9.  Other television productions include Cooking Lessons, An Unexpected Love, First Target and Deadlocked. Recently, Del Rosario designed the China-Canada co-production Iron Road and the feature film Helen on her own, earning a Leo Award and a Gemini nomination for Iron Road and a Leo nomination for Helen, while Paris took a sabbatical to write a book.  Since then, they collaborated on Mistresses, the Lifetime movies of the week Taken From Me; The Tiffany Rubin Story and The Killing Game, the comedy Great Scot and the feature film Frankie and Alice.

When not designing films, Paris and Del Rosario spend time in their respective art studios in Deep Cove, Canada.

Grace Eva Mendes
Dr. Harford Matthew Modine
Ansiedad Cierra Ramirez
Ms. Armstrong Patricia Arquette
Mission Impossible Eugenio Derbez
Tavita Raini Rodriguez
Emile Russell Peters
Trevor Landon Liboiron
Valerie Brenna O'Brien
Tavita's Mom Ana Maria Estrada
Alice Harford Kendall Cross
Gilliam Dana Michael Woods
Olga Robin Douglas
Becky Jocelyne Loewen
Principal Blu Mankuma
Ferguson Rady Panov
Shannon Bernadette Beck
Maude Doreen Ramus
Teacher Elizabeth Mclaughlin
Chloe Margot Brenner
Lo Mein Colin Foo
Nurse Lesley Ewen
Woman Patti Allan
Boy George Sean Mathieson
Dream Teacher June B. Wilde
Uniformed Officer Sean Campbell
Harford's Son Sean Michael Kyer
Alpha Male Michael P. Northey
Lady Customer Lossen Chambers
Jezabel Tiere Skovkye
Bay Boy Richard Harmon
Maid Kathryn Kirkpatrick
Girl Madison Desjarlais
Gardener Mario Casoria
Stunt Coordinators Lauro Chartrand
Chad Sayn
Special appearance by
Espinoza Paz
Featuring the voice of
Don Cheto
Line Producer Christopher Dalton
Production Manager Chris Rudolph
First Assistant Director Phil Chipera
Second Assistant Director Michele Williams
Associate Producer Don Zepfel
Canadian Casting by Candice Elzinga
Post Production Supervisor David Dewar
A Cam 1st Assistant Jos Oman
A Cam 2nd Assistant Adam Braverman
Camera Operator Pieter Stathis
B Cam 1st Assistant Pat Cronin
B Cam 2nd Assistant Ken Sutherland
Digital Media Technician Lionel Barton
Loader/Trainee Stephan Duval
Stills Photographer Bob Akester
Gaffer Ryan Bailey
Best Boy Electric Trevor Carabin
Genny Operator Justin Hanika
Lamp Operators Dacoda Bartels
Adrian Mottram
Set Wireman Roger Bailey
Key Grip John Kuchera
Best Boy Grip Alexander Kuchera
Dolly Grip Virgile Dean
Grips Steve Morgan
Gord Tait
Cody Rusinko
Sound Mixer Steven Weakes
Boom Paul Novokshonoff
Script Supervisor Susan Williams
Set Decorator Denise Nadredre
Asst Set Decorator Api Nadredre
Set Dec Buyer Lisa Mitchell
On Set Dresser Camille Quinton
Coordinator Veronika Kryvchun
Dressers Dylan Armour
Quentin Borger
Graphic Artist Kate Whyte
Painter Doug Currie
Art Dept Assistant Roxana Chapela
Costume Designer Katia Stano
Additional Costumes Mona May
Asst Costume Designer Shanna Mair
Set Supervisor Alicia Grunert
Prep Costumer Kelsey Silk
Truck Costumer Tina Wilson
Background Costumer Patricia Richards
Make-Up Artist Natalie Cosco
Assistant Make-Up Erin Froese
Hair Stylist Debra Johnson
Assistant Hair Lauren Jones
Property Master Nicholas Dibley
Asst Property Master Andras Bagoly
Props Assistant Ina Brooks
Location Manager Sheri Mayervich
Asst Location Manager Chad Bretschneider
Asst Location Manager Karen Lo
Trainee Location Manager Natalie Wagar
Special Effects Coordinator Darcy Davis
Animal Wrangler Ian Doig
Production Coordinator Lukia Czernin
Co-Coordinator Ron Pachkowski
2nd Asst Coordinator Matthew Edge
3rd Asst Director Dave Nall
Trainee Asst Director Sarah Hansen
Casting Associate (US) Allison Estrin
Casting Assistant (US) Adam Richards
Casting Associate (Canada) Martina Smyth
Casting Assistant (Canada) Kara Eide
Production Accountant Barbra Richardsen
Payroll Accountant Sarah Pennington
Accounts Payable Heather Trimble
Extras Casting Sara Brown
Background Coordinator Paula Antil
Stand-In for Ms.Mendes Mercedes de la Zerda
Stand-In for Ms.Ramirez Jovanna Huguet
Assistant to Ms. Riggen Marlisa Fruehauf
Key Production Assistant Spencer Grimm
Key Production Assistant Josh Pickens
Key Production Assistant Nuvjit Sidho
Production Assistant Janice Gill
Production Assistant Samantha Degagne
Production Assistant Jason Koenig
Assistant Editor Barry Liu
Digital Intermediate Technicolor Vancouver
DI Colourist Claudio Sepulveda
DI Manager James Cowan
DI Producer Jonas Young
DI Editor Jay Harada
Account Executive Scot Evans
DI Systems Administrator Keith Vincent
Sound Edited & Mixed At Post Modern Sound
Sound Designer Miguel Nunes
Re-Recording Mixers Greg Stewart
Miguel Nunes
Dialogue Editor Roger Morris
Music Editor Don Mann
Sound Effects Editor James Wallace
Backgrounds Editor Ryan Thompson
Foley Engineer Rick Senechal
Foley Artists Don Harrison
Ian Mackie
Music Assistant Brooke Mori
Transportation Coordinator Dean Fitzpatrick
Transportation Captain Kam Dhesi
Drivers John Sorensen
Stephano Chimarios
Jim Papadogambros
Reggie Singh
Ghilas Aiteur
Fraser Sutherland
Amar Sangha
Mike Sandyke
Security Coordinator Sean Hanlin
First Aid/Craft Service Mike Sandyke
Catering by Tivoli Caters
Technical Consultant Martina Smyth
Tutor Mary Jo MacVey
Acting Coach Ingrid Torrence
Sound Sevices Post Modern Sound
Post Production & Lab Services Technicolor Vancouver
Visual Effects GFZ Studios
Completion Guarantee Film Finances Canada Ltd
Jim Sternberg
Antonietta Presta
Scott Kennedy
Legal Services Weinberg and Fyvolent
Larry Weinberg
Robert Fyvolent
Roberts and Stahl
Kim Roberts
Kyle Fogden
in Association with Triangle Financial Services LLC
our special thanks to:
Pepe Garza Duron
Martin Fabian
Sonny Ramirez
Joseph Razo
Paul Presburger
Diane McGee
Edward Allen
Eric Rovner
David Seltzer
Lisa Ellzey
Ben Hayflick
Gary Marsh
Judy Taylor
Yvonne Shay
James M. Leonard
Deborah Chow
Maggie Greenwald
Craig Bolotin
Dan Kleinman
Academy’s Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

“Sabor A Mi” “Juke Joint Rocking”
Performed by Eydie Gorme y Los Panchos Performed by
Written by Alarcon Alvaro Carrillo Written by
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment, Mexico S.A. De C.V. Courtesy of
By Arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
“El Esta Loca” “Hard Times
Performed by Performed by
Written by Written by
Couresty of Courtesy of
“Shake the Tree” “Nite Lite”
Performed by Reni Lane Performed by Beth Thornley
Written by Reni Lane & Sam Bisbee Written by Elizabeth T. Cairns, Jess Furman
Courtesy of Beth Thornley
“Fur Elise” By Arrangement with Lip Sync Music, Inc.
Performed by
Written by “Mis Amistades”
Performed by Espinoza Paz
“Hard Heart (Love Spy)” Written by Espinoza Paz
Performed by Queen Sea Big Shark Courtesy of Disa Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Written by Fu Han
Courtesy of Modern Sky Entertainment “Beat Back”
By Arrangement with Lip Sync Music, Inc. Performed by D’Anna Stewart feat. Osa Virtuoso
Written by D’Anna Stewart, Osamede Asemota, Rene Van Versevald & Kurt W. Farquhar
“Some Number”
Performed by Solid State “El Proximo Viernes”
Written by Solid State Performed by Espinoza Paz
Written by Espinoza Paz
“Home on the Range” Courtesy of Disa Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
Performed by Ben Hayflick
Public Domain “Oh Child”
Performed by Jessy Moss
“You’re So Pony” Written by Jessy Moss and Gregg Pagani
Performed by Beth Thornley
Written by Elizabeth T. Cairns, Robert Cairns “Asi O Mas”
Courtesy of Beth Thornley Performed by Espinoza Paz
By Arrangement with Lip Sync Music, Inc. Written by Espinoza Paz
Courtesy of Disa Records under license from Universal Music Enterprises
“All I Need”
Performed By “There’s No Way”
Written By Performed by Beth Thornley
Courtesy of Written by Elizabeth T. Cairns
Courtesy of Beth Thornley
“May” By Arrangement with Lip Sync Music, Inc.
Performed by Little Foot Long Foot
Written by Joan Margaret Smith, Isaac Klein “Oh My Stars”
Courtesy of Little Foot Long Foot Performed by Andrew Belle
By Arrangement with Lip Sync Music, Inc. Written by Andrew Belle
Courtesy of 1 L Music
“Texas is My Home” By Arrangement with Secret Road Music Services, Inc.
Performed by
Written by “We Don’t Forget”
Courtesy of Performed by Reni Lane
Written by Reni Lane & Sam Bisbee
“Everyone Falls”
Performed by Beth Thornley
Written by Elizabeth T. Cairns
Courtesy of Beth Thornley
By Arrangement with Lip Sync Music, Inc
Produced with the participation of
The Canadian Film or Video Production Services Tax Credit
the Province of British Columbia
Production Services Tax credit
Filmed on location in British Columbia, Canada
Approved No. 47077
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