It took 16 days for Valente Rodriguez to film Los Scavengers, but that doesn’t mean his film is completely finished. The intricate details of editing audio and several different scenes are still a work in progress and yet the thundering sound of clapping roared after it screened for its Cine Las Americas International Film Festival debut.
“So what do you guys think? You got questions? Concerns? Anything?” Rodriguez said as he opened the panel with feedback on his film. But before anyone could raise their hand, a woman shouted, “My son is sitting next to me and he said, ‘Mommy, it’s about adventure. I love it.'”
The coming-of-age, adventure-comedy was set in South Texas along the Rio Grande Valley. Four young boys, Alex, Camilo, David and Roger are hired by Remedios (Invonne Coll), the local witch to find an ancient Mayan lucky charm called Laughing Man. With a little persuasion and negotiation, the boys agree to find Laughing Man, only if Remedios promises to help the football team win and breaks the town’s curse.
Rodriguez is well known for his character Ernie on the television series George Lopez. Lately, he’s been on Happily Divorced, The Mentalist and Wizards of Waverly Place. Considering his roles amongst Hollywood starlets, Rodriguez chose actors from the Rio Grande Valley. It turned out that most of his leading actors were inexperienced and yet Rodriguez boasted about their performances as if they had been acting for many years.
“Exceptional, exceptional, exceptional performances,” the proud director said. “This is the first film for all three of them, and they were a joy to work with. I would easily work with them again.”
Three of his main actors attended the Cine Las Americas screening Edward Joseph Pequeño, Rene Gonzalez and Rene Olivarez. They rose for recognition as Rodriguez highlighted and celebrated their performances in his film.
“Stand up guys. Stand up. See they still take direction really well,” he said, with a laugh.
Aside from acting, Rodriguez was honest when he spoke about editing, audio and other problematic elements in the film.
“There’s some problems with it. There’s things that I want to do for sure for positive. There’s a couple of cuts that are smash cuts and they should be dissolves or something else. There’s a scene or two where I thought the color was off. There’s a really bright scene and there’s a really dark scene.”
Again, he opened it to the audience for feedback, except this time he was more comical.
“Questions? Answers? Money?”
I decided to break the dead silence and ask where he drew his inspiration from.
“Mostly from David Rice. He originally sent me a script about horse racing and I said no. It’s a good film, it’s a good script, but I have no interest in spending six months with horses,” Rodriguez said. “So then, we went back from the way we grew up. We grew up was in the late ’60s and early ’70s. You got on your bike and you rode around town. We did all kinds of stuff like run over frogs, poke at ant hills and lower the canals. All that kind of stuff.”
The film was categorized in “New Visions/Works in Progress” under the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival lineup and yet the crowd seemed to forget about its minor details that needed a little retouching. From the loud clapping to the entire audience laughing, it seemed as though the film did well. Rodriguez felt the same way too.
“I’m really proud of it and the people who were involved,” Rodriguez said.