Five Questions with Filmmaker Andrew Enriquez

It-Happened-on-Exposition-Blvd.---webBorn in Watsonville, California, Andrew spent his teen years in Northern Idaho. A devoted fan of director Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950), he auditioned for a stage production at the local community college at age 16, landing the role of the disillusioned Buddhist priest.

After a passionate fling with semi-professional ballet dancing, he joined the Idaho Army National Guard, eventually appearing in the 2010 United States Army Soldier Show world tour.

He was approached by brother-in-law Eric Sharp to develop a screen adaptation of Sharp’s La Pintura Frequentada interactive murder mystery script. As his feature film debut, he wrote, acted in, directed, and edited the resulting adaptation, Canvas the Night”. [IMDB]

Enriquez’s film, It Happened on Exposition BLVD will be at the 2015 GI Film Festival.

Where are you from and what is your film background?

I was born near Santa Cruz, California, but moved to North Idaho when I was in my early teens. Idaho is definitely my home, and contrary to the “Famous Potatoes” slogan on our license plates, where I come from, it’s all trees, lakes, and hills. After a somewhat fitful ballet career, I decided to join the Idaho Army National Guard as a 35P, Cryptologic Linguist. To my surprise, my Advanced Individual Training was at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, where I studied French mere miles from my childhood home.

My family are avid classic film enthusiasts, and my film literacy and tastes are heavily influenced by this background. My favorite films as a child were adventure pictures such as The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Errol Flynn. I attempted my first amateur film when my family bought a camcorder, which I promptly broke. A series of casual projects resulted in nothing more than YouTube videos until I entered two videos into the US Army’s Peer-to-Peer Safety Challenge in 2009, winning third place for a video about motorcycle safety. In 2012, my brother-in-law, a prominent improv dinner theater producer, writer, and actor, offered me the opportunity to co-write and direct my first feature film, Canvas the Night, based on his most popular script.

Shot on a Canon 60D from Costco with a budget of about $3,000, the result was a technically-challenged, but fulfilling mystery thriller that was selected for the Monarch Film Festival and distributed as DVD prizes at dinner theater shows.

Staying in Southern California a few more months, I acted in several films with roles ranging from a adult expo donkey mascot to leads in student projects. As a farewell to L.A., I wrote, directed, and acted in “It Happened on Exposition Blvd.”, which, to my great surprise and excitement, was selected for the 2105 G.I. Film Festival.

Who are your biggest influences in film and why?

My greatest influences in film are Wong Kar Wai, Michael Haneke, Stanley Kubrick, and the often-forgotten genre directors of noir and horror. Wong’s consummate lyricism and mastery of tone and nuance make his “In the Mood For Love” my favorite film, whereas Haneke and Kubrick’s grim playfulness and unhurried style make for great visual and musical storytelling. The genre directors offer us the unexpected, and one of my greatest pleasures is to discover moments of awesomeness in low-budget genre fare.

What was the hardest part about getting this film made?

The hardest part of getting “Expo Blvd.” made was trying to cram 10pages of shooting in several scenes into a  single night without any crew but actors, and no resources but my sister Emma’s kind offer of interior location, pizza, and filmmaking zeal. Everyone played a part, with my niece operating camera, actor Stephen Beal forging vintage Swiss francs,and neighbors tolerating me tumbling down their stairs at 3 AM.

The result was some dodgy lighting/audio and an absolutely exhausted production team, but we had almost exactly what I had set out to make- an ultra no-budget homage to the films noirs I have long loved.

What do you want viewers to take away with them after watching your film?

The chief thing I would like for viewers to take away from viewing “Expo Blvd.” is a smile at the gentle parody of the film, recognizing it for the enthusiastically nostalgic spirit in which it is intended. Many films noirs directly reflect and deal with the dark sentiments following WWII, which had irrevocably altered the American experience.

“The Chase”, a film noir starring Robert Cummings (himself an Air Force vet), centers on a down-on-his-luck vet who stumbles into intrigue when he returns a wealthy criminal’s wallet to him. “Go out and by him a medal,” the man cracks. Cummings modestly replies “Thanks, I already got a

medal.” This was a generation that confronted the worst and responded with victorious resolve. But not all was easy in the Dark City. I intended “Expo Blvd” to remind viewers that there was a wide variety of film noir aside from the best-remembered and much-parodied cliches of the Bogartesque detective pictures. I love Sam Spade, but I think more important questions were raised by the noir anti-heroes whose lives intersected with fate when the chose to inexorable path of crime.

What is a fun fact about you that would surprise people?

A fun fact that surprises many people is that not only was I a ballet dancer previous to my service in the National Guard, but I also danced for the Army as a member first of the 2010 United States Army Soldier Show, and am currently a member of the 2015 cast. I am honored to serve in a show that has roots in WWI and whose alumni includes Ronald Reagan, Irving Berlin, and Gene Kelly.

It Happened on Exposition Blvd., directed by Andrew Enriquez, is playing at Angelika on May 20. Click here for tickets.