On Friday, media got another sneak peek into the upcoming movie “Switch Up,” a romantic comedy currently filming across Brownsville, San Benito and South Padre Island.
The event organized by the Brownsville Border Film Commission brought together members of the cast and crew and media to share information about the film at the Brownsville Performing Arts Center.
The movie starring Cristián De La Fuente and Julieth Restrepo tells the story of an unexpected romance between a homeless former Miami talk show host Ricardo and widow Cassie as they cross paths at a homeless shelter in Brownsville.
Over the film, Ricardo works to discover happiness in service to others in his community, while Cassie learns to let go of the past and open herself to love again.
Production for the feature film began in earnest on Wednesday, Jan. 12 and is on schedule to continue well into February.
For half an hour before peeling off into one-on-one interviews, the cast and crew discussed what they felt were important aspects of the production and the experience of working in Brownsville.
For male lead De La Fuente, it was essential to convey his experiences with the representation of Latinos in the film industry in the context of this new project to the gathered reporters.
“When I first came to this country 25 years ago, I remember that when I was auditioning for Latino roles — they were always the guy killed in the first five minutes of the movie,” he said.
However, times have changed; De La Fuente sees his current role in Ricardo as a reflection of the increasing availability of more nuanced and diverse roles for Latino actors and their communities.
In this case, De La Fuente related, Ricardo offers not only a story of redemption but one that only takes root because of finding himself in Brownsville.
“We are very proud to tell a completely different story, a story of redemption. A story that touches our souls because it is a guy — that in this case is Latino, but could be anybody — that realizes that happiness is closer than what he thought and that place of realization is here,” he said.
During the media event, it became clear that the city itself is an ever-present character in the movie, which director and producer Tara Pirnia intended when working on the story with Felice Heather Monteith.
According to Pirnia, film productions often come into cities and use it as a location — but try to pass it off as another city.
In contrast, “Switch Up” uses and identifies within the story existing buildings and places in Brownsville and their other filming locations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
“So that’s how the story stays in the city; the city is part of the story,” she said.
As a whole, the film’s crew expressed their desire that the success of “Switch Up” will bring more productions to the area and put a spotlight on the local talent behind and in front of the camera.
“For those who want to be involved in dance, music, film and the stage — you don’t necessarily have to go to New York or Los Angeles. Hopefully, the L.A.s and New Yorks can now come to you,” actor Jeff Fahey said. “That’s what this is all about for us. Not just making a film here, but as my friends have said, helping build the community from within — you have everything that you need here to make films.”
While it will be a little longer before residents can see the final product in theaters during its limited theatrical release, people are encouraged to visit Switch Up’s Facebook page for production updates and behind-the-scenes content.