About the FilmBy Rick Castañeda
CEMENT SUITCASE is a comedy about Franklin, the best wine salesman in the Yakima Valley. He’s awesome at a job he hates, he’s in love with a girl who’s cheating on him, and he ends up renting a room to the same guy that broke into his house. Clearly, he’s close to the edge. When the man who’s having an affair with his girlfriend invites him out for golfing lessons, it might just be the tipping point.
I was born and raised in the Yakima Valley, and it wasn’t until I moved away that I really began to notice how unique it was. The peace and quiet, the beautiful vistas, and the way life interweaves through everybody you know. After living in Los Angeles for ten years, you really get to miss the cows, the ample parking, and the real feeling of spring. I decided to set a movie in the Yakima Valley because no one else has. I wanted to make a movie about a place most people have never seen before, in a place where people still get excited about movies.
So I saved up my pennies for a long time, borrowing movies from friends instead of paying for cable, driving a ’97 Honda because it still got great gas mileage, and subsisting on cold cereal and frozen pizza, in order to save up the money to make this film.
I brought the idea of the film and a rough script to the production company I co-founded, Psychic Bunny, and they agreed to help support it. A creative hub that produces short films, features, web series, and even 360-degree interactive experiences, Psychic Bunny has always found a way to sharpen the projects I’ve directed to make them funnier, more beautiful, and more professionally-made. Coma, Period., a web series I wrote, was produced by Psychic Bunny and went on to praise in the New York Times, and reached over 1,000,000 views on MetaCafe.com. Without the constructive feedback, suggestions, support, and resources of this tremendous group of filmmakers, it never would have been so successful.
The other important ingredient in this undertaking goes by the name of Dwayne Bartholomew, or, as he’s often known, “D.” I’ve been making films with Dwayne for about nine years now, from my first film at USC, shot on 16mm, to the 37 short films we made with our comedy sketch group, Six Finger Fist. D has more comedy in his little pinky than most people have in their entire lives. He’s so talented, and so hilarious, I wrote “Cement Suitcase” entirely for him because I know what he’s capable of, and there’s no one I’d rather work with.
This movie, more than anything else, is about learning to let go. Learning this was something that actually enabled me to do the movie. Instead of worrying that I was making a big mistake, or that I was going to embarrass myself with an epic failure, I had to just let go of all that and trust in my abilities and in the wonderful people working on this film. And when I think about that, I know this film is going to be great. It’s going to be a beautiful story. And freaking hilarious.