Friday Night Feature – Lopez

I’m probably setting myself up for some heavy criticism after my harsh review of the Long Good Friday, but here goes anyway.

Lopez is a short movie I made with my friend Gabriel Guzman back in 2000. At the time, I had been working as a video editor for a low-end production house in San Francisco. We mostly did corporate videos and infomercials, and somehow I ended up doing a bunch of low budget gangsta rap music videos. The cool thing about the production house was that I had the master keys to it, and I could work late into the night on whatever I wanted. Because I was leaving for Europe, I wanted to take advantage of the expensive Avid and Softimage editing suites before I left, and that’s how I came up with the idea of shooting Lopez.

I had another job besides editing, and that was valet parking. I was making a ridiculous amount of money through a parking scam I was running with my Colombian friend Gabriel, who was also a valet parker. Even though the cash was great, we were always pretty depressed about being valet parkers. Keep in mind, this was in the middle of the dot com bubble, and we were parking luxury vehicles left and right, and we valet parkers were probably one of the lowliest social castes in late-nineties San Francisco. So we made up a character to give voice to our grievances, and this was the lowly Lopez, a valet parker with delusions of grandeur.

So much for the plot — Lopez is more about atmosphere. We shot it in the Tenderloin, easily the sketchiest neighborhood of San Francisco, on a mini-DV camera which I “bought” from a department store (and returned a week after we shot the movie). Gabriel, who plays Lopez, really was drunk and high when we shot this, and his delirious speech to the masses is actually inspired by the schizos I saw everyday in the Tenderloin doing the same thing. Many of my friends made cameos, but unfortunately not all could make the final cut. After two days of shooting — and buckets of whiskey — I brought the footage back to the studio and edited it in two nights. Lopez was born.

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