SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — With scenic coastal views and cities that embody the area’s cultural richness, a production team felt drawn to have their story take place in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.
An upcoming movie titled “The Switch Up” began filming this week in Brownsville and on South Padre Island.
South Padre Island city officials and personnel held a press conference on Thursday to introduce the film’s cast and crew.
“It’s great for South Padre Island because we are showcasing a wonderful place to enjoy while on vacation or a weekend and now, as a film destination,” SPI Senior Marketing and Communications Manager Teresa Rodriguez said. “With this movie, I think people are going to see what South Padre Island has to offer.”
The Switch Up is a romantic comedy starring Cristián De La Fuente and Julieth Restrepo.
De La Fuente plays Ricardo, a wealthy and successful Miami talk show host who gets tricked into losing his position after a scandal erupts in the media.
Because of the scandal, Ricardo loses everything and becomes homeless.
He soon finds himself in Brownsville at a homeless shelter he once featured on his talk show.
There he meets Cassie, a young grieving widow who is played by Restrepo.
Restrepo said she hopes the audience can connect with her character and the grief she’s trying to overcome.
“We can root for her and hope she finds love because she wants to fall in love again,” Restrepo explained. “I hope they laugh with the situations and connect with the love.”
As the film progresses, De La Fuente’s character comes to understand that problems come in human sizes, away from cameras.
“He’s chasing fame and money in order to be happy and he realizes the day he loses everything that happiness is really closer to you,” De La Fuente said. “It’s about true love, being honest and sometimes facing your fears and demons in order to overcome your past and be really happy.”
From script to screen
The cast and crew began their first day of filming on Wednesday, Jan. 12 in Brownsville.
Producer and director Tara Pirnia said it’s amazing to see everyone’s vision start to become reality.
“It’s amazing. I sometimes tear up every time I talk about it,” Pirnia said. “It’s a labor of love and I’m blessed to have an amazing team of producers and crew. Those actors are a dream team, especially since this is my first feature, I couldn’t have asked for a better cast.”
As a screenwriter, Pamela Beach has been working on this movie for two years now.
“It’s awesome, wonderful and overwhelming to see something that you started putting on paper come to life with this wonderful cast and crew in a beautiful area like this,” Beach said. “It’s so hard to put into words how wonderful it is for a screenwriter to see their words come to life on the screen.”
Beach and Pirnia explained that one of the main take-aways they hope the audience gains from the film is realizing that there is a homeless problem.
“People can reach out and help,” Beach said. “I hope they see the need for that and get more involved in the homeless community in their area and start helping.”
Pirnia added that she also wants people to understand that those who are homeless have a deeper story behind their situation.
“This is a very special issue close to my heart. What I hope the audience takes away is if you do see someone who’s homeless or asking for help, have a little kindness toward them,” Pirnia said. “You may not agree with their path of life or whatever it may be, but have human kindness for someone who’s going through a hard time.”
To follow along the progress of the film, visit The Switch Up’s Facebook page.