“Sure it's disappointing if you don't win,” says Beyer. “But when your micro-budget film goes up against U.S. and international independent films with budgets of four-plus million, you feel pretty good regardless!”
Beyer recently premiered his film Down the P.C.H. at the Third Annual Baja California Film Festival in Mexico, and wasn't disappointed. His first feature was nominated for Best Director, Best Actress and Best Feature Film.
P.C.H . tells the story of two brothers: 26-year-old Garrett O'Hara (Vincent Grashaw) who was just released from prison for alleged drug dealing, and his 16-year-old brother, Noah (Zack Bennett). During his time behind bars, Garrett learns Noah has become rebellious towards his politician father (Michael Cavanaugh) and media-conscious mother (Lin Shaye), who are apparently more concerned with their image than taking care of their family.
Garrett is determined to rebuild his life, first rekindling an old fling with the beautiful and sexy Samantha (Elaine Hendrix), and getting gainful employment. Unfortunately, he is quickly forced to put his new life on hold, when he learns his younger brother has run away and is living with and working for the charismatic drug dealer, Doc (Guillermo Diaz).
From the moment they arrived in Mexico, until they headed back over the international border, the cast and production team for P.C.H. was treated like celebrities. “They woke us up each morning with our itinerary, sometimes a little too early for younger members of the cast,” laughs Beyer. “ We were driven to each event, shown around the cities and taken to some wonderful restaurants off the beaten path. Places that tourists would never have known about.”
The Baja Festival was co-sponsored by the Mexican government which has been going out of its way to promote film and television production south of the border. Beyer states, “With the new administration in place and the fact that they've cleaned up Tijuana and other nearby cities significantly, makes Mexico appealing.”
Ambassadors from various Mexican states and from around the world attended the many film financing forums put on by the festival. “They want to tap into some 700 million pesos [76 million USD] available for production and co-production,” says Beyer. “Much the same as Canada, Australia and other ‘film-friendly' countries have done in recent years.”
Their first official event was the P.C.H. premiere in Playas de Tijuana at Cinemastar Coronado. The filmmakers made the walk down the red carpet to a warm reception from festival-goers and the media. After the screening they had a press conference and meet and greet with those that attended the screening.
“I don't think I've ever posed for so many pictures and signed so many autographs in my life,” says Bennett. “I didn't want it to end, they treated us so well.”
“We even signed this one kid's skateboard!” adds Beyer.
Each event was followed with a party, including a Casino Night at a local winery benefiting Children's Hospital of Tijuana; an evening out at Señor Frogs Cantina and into the wee hours of the morning at the three-story Baby Rock nightclub.
“Late one night we went to this incredible taco place,” says Beyer. “I've never seen anyone make tacos so damned fast. He was just slinging them together in five seconds. And they were so good, spicy as all hell, but so good. I probably had about four or five. I don't think I can eat American-made tacos again!”
The festival concluded with the closing night awards ceremony. Once again, the filmmakers made their way down a crowed red carpet to a cocktail reception. Inside the auditorium, the ceremony began with an introduction from the festival directors.
“It was always tough at the events, since everything was in Spanish,” says Beyer. “But we did OK. Guillermo [Diaz] did his best to translate as did our assistants from the festival.”
Kim Sapone, who plays Lucy, Diaz's girlfriend was invited to perform one of the songs she sings in the film as part of the awards night entertainment. “Kim was the only non-Mexican to perform that night,” says producer Valerie McCaffrey. “We were very honored.”
After the entertainment, it was time for the awards. The filmmakers sat in anxious anticipation as they played clips of each nominated film. Cheers erupted for Elaine Hendrix when they announced her nomination for Best Actress.
“It seems like time stands still as the woman walks across the stage with the envelope and hands it to the presenter. Tick tock, tick tock – open the damned thing !” laughs Beyer. “The suspense was killing me!”
And the winner is … “Elaine Hendrix for Down the P.C.H. !”
Hendrix stood up to thunderous applause, hugged her producer McCaffrey, director Beyer and made her way to the stage. Once on stage she explained that her Spanish consisted of “tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and guacamole!”
The presenter translated for her, but since the majority of Mexicans present understood English, the audience was laughing before he even began. Hendrix graciously thanked everyone and headed backstage to meet with the press.
“I was very pleased that the film was so well received cross-culturally,” says McCaffrey, “It certainly gives us greater opportunities at acquiring international distribution – and winning awards is icing on the cake!”
Unfortunately, P.C.H. didn't receive any other awards. “Doesn't matter to me,” says Beyer. “I truly was honored to be nominated, especially for my first feature. And the fact that someone as experienced and talented as Elaine even appeared in the film is awesome.”
After another late night fiesta, the filmmakers had to prepare to return home. Beyer comments, “Going back to L.A. is going to be been bitter-sweet, as we all have become friends with our assistants and will definitely miss them and the hospitality the festival provided us here in Mexico.”
Down The P.C.H. is currently seeking distribution, with worldwide rights available. For more information about the film and to view the trailer, visit www.downthepch.com or www.myspace.com/downthepchmovie.