Roadside memorials subject of short film

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Movies > Local elementary school student plays a starring role

By Gina Velasquez

While driving anywhere in New Mexico, the medians and shoulders are peppered with crosses and other memorials — Descansos — to remember a life taken on the road. For 11-year-old Christopher Garcia, these tributes to loved ones touched his heart.
The roadside shrines are the inspiration for the short film “Descanso.” The family lives in Velarde and Christopher attends Aspen Elementary School in Los Alamos. “There are lots of descansos between Española and Los Alamos,” mom Sha-Marie Reid said. Reid works at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the physics
The 15-minute short film focuses on Archie, the owner of a road construction business. Archie (played by Chris Ranney) and his family are dealing with a loss, in which a descanso was placed on a roadside. Complications arise when he is notified the memorial has to be moved. It is a story themed around the life fact that where there is an end, there is also a beginning.
“It’s pretty sad about have many people have died on the roads,” Garcia said. One in particular is near Española. “It has a teddy bear on it, so you know it was someone young, maybe even a baby that died.”
Garcia and his father Don Garcia, a screenwriter penned the story after Christopher thought of the story. “There is a lot of construction going on in Albuquerque and that is where he got the idea,” Reid said.
A 45-day fundraiser brought the film to reality. Recently, a concert was held at Ned’s Bar and Grill in Albuquerque. The movie was shot in and around the Duke City. Four New Mexico bands played the benefit. The bands were Follow the Call, a Metallica cover band, Ride the Lightning, 10 Ton Hit (the guitarist is 12 years old) and Breaking Blue, who songs are heard in the film.
“Neds was nice enough to match 10 percent of food sales,” Reid said. The family developed a production company called RGA Productions. The film is now in pre-production.
The film cast consists of New Mexico actors, such as Chris Ranney who has appeared in “Breaking Bad.” Jenny Gabrielle, Chase A. Fox, Heather Nicole Gonzales and Garcia himself, round out the cast.
Ranney agreed to do the film based on his personal experiences.
Garcia is no stranger to the camera. He has appeared in several movies as an extra, including the TV show “Longmire,” films “A Million Ways to Die in the West,” “Transcendence” with Johnny Depp, “Sweetwater” and the short film Larson’s Field. He has also done several commercials.
The descanso film means a lot to Garcia. “He has always had a soft heart,” Reid said.
The purpose of the film is simple, “Death is serious,” Garcia said. “Be thoughtful of the descansos and be safe driving. Don’t talk on the phone and don’t text while driving.”
“The film is a healing process,” Reid said.
People may still donate to the film by emailing Reid at rgaproductions@gmail.com.
Photos are requested for families that have descansos to remember their family members. At the end of the film, there will be 10 photos displayed of the descanso and the person it is for, to serve as a tribute to the lives lost on New Mexico roads.