It’s Time for the Second Feature!

Hello Readers!

Well it’s been far too long since I last wrote a blog entry for this filmmaking blog journal. As some of you may remember, I started this blog in the summer of 2009 to document the process and needs of making my first feature film Love, Concord. But as finishing my first feature became a lengthy process as well as becoming a full time high school video teacher, my writing time crawled to a halt.

But it’s with great pleasure that I’m announcing the revival of the Opificer Media blog. What I hope to do is write at least two blog entries a month and aim for one a week.

So what’s the big announcement? What has caused me to brush the cobwebs off this blog?

Drum roll please…..

Opificer Media has begun developing it’s second feature film for a production start date of June 2017! While I wanted to start another feature almost immediately after I finished my first, my biggest challenge was deciding on what story to tell next. Also, the fact I didn’t break even on my investment in Love, Concord also meant it would be another challenge to finance my next project. So after years of struggling with ideas and attempts to write a screenplay I felt worth my time and effort to direct again, I finally got the kick to the ass I needed to finish a first draft.

The feature I’ve chosen to pursue is based on my college mentor and hero Dr. John Alfred Dennis who directed the High Potential Program at St. Mary’s college. To call Dr. D a unique individual would not do the man justice as there will never be another man like him. His astonishing intelligence, sense of humor, and ability to motivate even the most overwhelmed students was a gift to all those fortunate enough to have met and been taught by him. Unfortunately, today marks the 8 year anniversary of Dr. D’s death. He was murdered in 2008 just months before he was preparing to retire from teaching at St. Mary’s.

This portrait was made circa 2007

His death shocked and tormented his students who were all unprepared for not only his passing but the violent death this gentle and passionate man endured. Therefore, I have become overwhelmed with the passion to  share to the world what this man’s life meant to so many of his students. He changed and influenced so many people to better themselves, that the early loss of his life to violence can not tarnish the positive inspiration this man was for his community and the human condition. Audiences need to see the brilliant teacher and mentor Dr. Dennis should be forever honored and immortalized as.

So that’s it, I’m making another feature film and like last time I’ll be asking for a lot of help and offering a lot of opportunities. For starters the script, like the High Potential Program, is rich with diverse characters so I’ll be seeking a diverse cast. If any of you readers know of young ethnic actors please point them in my direction as it’s never too early to begin casting.

The script is written, now it's all pre-production until June 2017
The script is written, now it’s all pre-production until June 2017

Our low budget independent type of filmmaking means we’ll need to use young filmmakers to help crew positions during production, so if you’re a former student of mine please share this with any fellow film school students you know in the Bay Area as it will be a great opportunity to network with both established filmmakers and other up and coming filmmakers just as it was on Love, Concord.

So stay tuned as, again, I’ll aim to post weekly, but I guarantee at least bi-weekly posts up until production in the summer of 2017. Thanks in advance for your support now please follow us on this page or on social media so you won’t miss our next post.

I’ll leave you with the memorial video “….for Dr. D,” (which is the working title for the feature film) I made for him using the hours of HP footage he encouraged me to to record during my time as both student and peer adviser for the program:

Forward!

-Gustavo Guardado, Jr.

  15 comments for “It’s Time for the Second Feature!

  1. Virginia McCarthy
    February 9, 2016 at 21:16

    Beautiful tribute to Dr. D, Gus! So happy you are moving forward with this film.

    • gguardado
      February 10, 2016 at 19:41

      Thanks partner!

  2. Rene Huxtable
    February 9, 2016 at 22:08

    If I can be of any help in any way let me know. I loved working back stage theater through college as gopher, Head of props and stage crew and assistant in productions but have no experience in film. I miss that atmosphere. It never felt like work, even the 12-20 hour days.

    • gguardado
      February 10, 2016 at 19:40

      Rene,

      Thanks we’d love to have yours and hopefully Kirsten’s help once again. 🙂

  3. Jose Fernandez
    February 9, 2016 at 22:10

    Gustavo your talent and passion for what you love to do has never been a question! As a college roommate of yours I saw the passion you had for the film industry. I want to congratulate you on your well deserved success but especially for keeping Dr. John Dennis remembered and never forgoton. I remember all these memories (Video) as I was fortunate to have been part of all of it because of Dr Dennis. I have trully missed a great man, teacher, friend and mentor who I know guided me as many others on the right path. I attribute my success and education to Dr. John Dennis. Thank your for the wonderful tears that came about, currently On-Duty as I watched your clip.

    • gguardado
      February 10, 2016 at 19:39

      Jose,
      Thanks brother! I appreciate the encouragement and complements. I too miss Dr. D greatly. I have a photo of him above the white board in my classroom to remind me every day I teach to try to be the motivator and leader he was. Hopefully the film will do him and his legacy the justice he deserves.

  4. Alice
    February 9, 2016 at 22:44

    Love the video!!! Dr D looks like someone I would have loved to have known!!! The video just pours out his awesomeness…he looks like the most wonderful person ever known!!!!

    • gguardado
      February 10, 2016 at 19:37

      Thank you Alice, yes Dr. D was truly amazing. But if I pull it off half as good as I hope, his amazing persona will live on.

  5. February 10, 2016 at 00:38

    Dear Gus,

    I’m at my computer thinking about a talk I’ve been invited to share with young Black and Latino men at Hartnell College next week. Your email came in and I was brought to tears as I saw your beautiful tribute to Dr. D. I remember seeing it previously, but these powerful images once again recalled the many, many students whose lives he touched at SMC. I would guess that some, if not most, of the young men I’ll meet next week will likely be have and be what we know as High Potential!

    As you may know, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of HP awhile back and John D’s spirit was certainly among us. Sadly, the current administration has “restructured” HP in a way that is frankly antithetical to the Lasallian mission and spirit of the Program—to provide access and support to students who would otherwise be denied. The current program basically seeks students who would be regularly admitted and invites them to volunteer for participation in various phases of the new program. Indeed, many, if not most, past generations of HP students would be unlikely to be admitted to the program today.

    When we developed HP back in 1974, it was in response to a call from Saint Mary’s faculty to “waive some or all of the usual entrance requirements” for students who did not demonstrate their potential for success through the usual indices–grades, curriculum, test scores, etc. In the intervening years, the program admitted students who demonstrated their “high potential” through working and caring for family, community service, leadership activities, as well as those who had overcome significant barriers on the road of life. Students often applied with low grades and/or SAT scores, as well as having attended (and transcended) the inadequate schools usually available to many students of color and others from low socio-economic backgrounds.

    As Booker T. Washington observed, success is not just a matter of what a person achieves, it is also a measure of the obstacles s/he has overcome to achieve success. The result are HP alums who have distinguished themselves in law, health, education, business, the arts, and countless other fields. In honoring Dr. John Dennis, you also honor the forty years of men and women who are proud to proclaim themselves “HP for Life!” Hopefully, your film will also inspire the College to return to the original Lasallian vision and spirit of the High Potential Program.

    • gguardado
      February 10, 2016 at 19:32

      Tom,

      I’m overwhelmed with joy to see you saw my blog and watched my video. Yours and Dr. D’s vision of HP has meant so much to so many successful people of diversity that to have you approve of this project truly means the world to me. I too have heard and have been disappointed about how HP is now done at St. Mary’s and I also hope the school sees the power of Dr. D and the stories I plan to tell in my film as catalyst to change back to the original Lassallian vision of the program.

      Again thank you for reaching out, and if possible I’d love to interview you for the blog to again help build an audience for the film prior to even shooting it. I plan to interview as many people who knew Dr. D well, as well as student success stories to help build momentum for SMC to allow us to shoot on campus and to again help make the film a success and inspiration to young men and women who also have “High Potential” but don’t have access to the amazing program it once was. I’ll be in touch but again so glad to hear from you!

  6. Gerardo Gomez
    February 11, 2016 at 04:18

    Gus,
    Words cannot describe how happy and excited I am for the amazing project that awaits you. I have always told you that it was my dream for his story to be told so that people can see the amazing man that Dr.D was and I have always envision you doing it. The time has come and this is the perfect year for you to give the world a glimpse of the amazing person that Dr. D was to many of us. I was fortunate to write a paper on him where he shared many personal stories of his upbringing and he was one who understand the barriers that life had placed on me and yet saw the resilience in me to move forward and become the man that I am today. I will go on record to say that Dr. D. was the father figure that I never had. He was there banging on my room my freshman year to check up on me, at my confirmation and emotionally present whenever I needed someone to talk too. That is why it wasn’t a hard decision for me to select Dr. D. as the person who I wanted to represent me at our SMC Latino graduation.
    Thank you Gus! What you are about to do is create a legacy that people will now have a film to reference and see when they think about our beloved hero!
    Thank you Brother!
    U got my support in any way I can be of service.

    PS..Hello! Kekenewe! 🙂
    Kekenewe Simbabele Bobo!
    (Only the chosen few know about this ?)

    • gguardado
      February 16, 2016 at 04:47

      Thanks Bro! Your support and belief in me and the project are inspiring! Kekenewe!!!

  7. Vanessa Bass
    February 14, 2016 at 21:31

    I would love to be a part of the process of making this film a reality. I never knew Dr. D myself but just hearing about the tragedy of his death and seeing how happy he was in his memorial tribute made me feel as though I had known him in another life. What a beautiful story to capture and pay tribute to.

    • gguardado
      February 16, 2016 at 04:46

      Thank you Vanessa, please follow the blog and our social media sites so you can stay posted on what we need help with. And also please share this project with anyone you may know who knows Dr. D or would appreciate the amazing virtues he instilled on his students.

  8. Pilar Olave
    October 28, 2016 at 19:08

    Wow, what a great video Gus! It truly shows the passion Dr.D had for what he loved the most, which were his students. It made me feel close to him even though I never met him nor was I a student of his. Lives like Dr. D’s are worth telling as they serve as an inspiration to all of us living in the present moment as well as generations to come. I am blessed by reading your blog and by watching this wonderful video. I really enjoyed the music selection you chose to bring extra life to his pictures and clips. I don’t think there could have been a better person than yourself to make a film about his life.
    Thank you so much for sharing your blog with me. As an actress, working in projects like this one make a career in acting truly rewarding. Thank you once again Gus! It was very moving

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