'Transpecos' SXSW 2016 - Exclusive Interview Director and Cast

Transpecos,’ is a tense thriller about three U.S.-Mexico border patrol agents who find themselves caught up in the drug trade. The film won the audience award for narrative features during the SXSW 2016 Film Festival. The film stars Gabriel Luna (Lance Flores), Johnny Simmons (Benjamin Davis), and Clifton Collins (Lou Hobbs). ‘Transpecos’  is the feature debut of the director and co-writer Greg Kwedar. The film deeply explores the characters morals and responsibilities. The border patrol agents find themselves in a profound analysis of their duties, questioning and examining the limits of their principles.

The co-writers are very passionate about their film and this controversial film captivated the audience during SXSW 2016 with the theme of being a BPA (Border Patrol Agent). A BPA lives day to day with such a dangerous job than in many cases their life is threatened. Every stranger who comes into their way on the job becomes a potentially lethal enemy, and there is no good time to drop one's guard as a U.S. Border Patrol. An increase in smuggling activities has pushed the Border Patrol to the front line of the U.S. war on drugs.

Exclusive Interview with Greg Kwedar and the Cast (Clifton Collins Jr and Johnny Simmons)  During SXSW 2016

Yenis Monterrey.-What can you tell me about the process of making the movie of ‘Transpecos’?

Greg Kwedar.- I’m the director and co-writer of the film of ‘Transpecos’. ‘Transpecos’ is a movie about three border patrol agents, that are best friends and partners. They are manning a remote checkpoint in the middle of desert where not much ever happens and the story unfolds over the course of 24 hours. The contents of one car that is stopped reveals a plot within their own ranks that could cost them their lives and they go on a crazy wild journey into a strange a violent part of the border.

Yenis Monterrey.- Can you share something about the cast? Why were the three of them perfect for the roles they assumed?

Greg Kwedar.- This movie is kind of rare with three impressive cast members, who are three lead actors that approach the characters in three different ways. Friendship comes out of that as well as the love that they have for each others as a brotherhood as their conflicts and drama unfold. It’s a film that doesn’t work without one or the other. When we cast it, we got an outstanding cast such as Johnny Simmons, Clifton Collins Jr., and Gabriel Luna who is now in Romania shooting a TV show.

We really had partners and actors who got ownership. I really feel we made the movie together whether it was the script, the choices, or the wardrobe. Everyone has to look after themselves and help to create the characters they are going to play and immerse themselves deeply in them and that really helps to make the film what it is!

Yenis Monterrey.- What inspired you to make a film with a theme about U.S. Border Patrols?

Greg Kwedar.- Actually my background in college was working down in the border. I started an organization that took place across the border of Mexico to work in communities and we discussed about how to be global citizens, so when I started making films I knew that if I was going to ever make a feature film I wanted to look at our borders, showing that our borders are very relevant to our society, culture, and world because the borders we make for ourselves say the most about us. My question is if that is true, does it demand to be examined and not forgotten?

In a way to examine the border with the most truth and clarity is through the eyes of the border patrols, who work the job, who go out into these deserts, and who wear the uniform. This is how we started. My writing partner Clint Bentley and I also did four years of research to make Transpecos.

Yenis Monterrey.- How long did it take you to shoot the movie and location in the desert?

Greg Kwedar.- Sixteen days in New Mexico.

Yenis Monterrey.- How was it like shooting in the desert for 16 days? Can you tell me talk to me a little bit about your journey with the film Transpecos in order to build your character? Did you get any advice or particular training?  

Clifton Collins Jr. (Lou Hobbs)- I was hired as an actor two weeks before shooting, so I had a few books to dive into before shooting. I had to ask a few question about my character to Greg and Clint, and I kind of worked with our tech advisor Sam Sadler who is a retired Border Patrol Agent (BPA) who is very passionate and is someone I leaned on for any advice about Border Protection, screening procedures and procedures in practice, and the moral and spiritual level to build my character. I was able to craft his moral core of my character around Sam Sadler.

Johnny Simmons.- We were shooting with 110 degree heat all day long.

Yenis Monterrey.- Why do you encourage people to watch Transpeco movie?

Johnny Simmons.- I loved it!  for me what I found interesting was that when a border patrol puts on the uniform they have to follow the law no matter what! It becomes a conflict for my character especially when his family is on the line and he has to continue with his duty. My character has a lot of moral and duty questions and I really find it very interesting. The movie opens a conversation about how the border works. People will die on the road, some get bitten by rattlesnakes, or the heat kills them, or get dehydrated.  The film taught me not to take America for granted and more now after of the shooting of this film. I hope people may get the message from the film. We really feel very lucky and fortunate to be part of the cast of this incredible film.

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