Growing up in a Texas town, Xavier Chapa chose a not-so ordinary hobby for a young Mexican boy: adapting stories to screenplays. Now, at age 28, he is engrossed in the art of filmmaking. His focus for many years has been production and direction, and he recently returned his attention to writing screenplays. A few months ago, Chapa adapted a screenplay from Gabriel Garcia Marquez''s story, "The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World," and is making it into a film. Colleagues Claudia Avina and Leslie Breton have joined him in the endeavor.
The three met each other through the Institute of Teledramatic Arts and Technology at CSUMB. Originally, the film''s purpose was to fufill their senior project requirements. But this undertaking gained momentum and grew bigger, quickly surpassing its initial purpose.
Avina, Breton and Chapa formed a production company, New Vision Productions, with a goal of producing an imaginative, successful film, and also to provide school-age Latinos with material by Latino artists. Upon completion in May, the film will be submitted to film festivals across the nation (to such big names as Sundance, New York, and San Francisco), and distributed to junior high and high schools throughout California. New Vision may or may not produce another film after this. Presently the trio is concentrating on the production demands of this one. Their roles are: Chapa, Director/Writer; Breton, Producer; and Avina, Casting Director/Co-Producer.
So far, the three work creatively and productively together. "We assess just about every week," Chapa says of group meetings. "We''re all on the same level for the most part, and through each others'' input, we assure we have one vision." Breton and Avina nod unanimously.
They agree on many issues, but also honor their individuality. Avina, the youngest at 21, hopes to get a Masters of Fine Arts, focusing on teaching theater to children. "I love working with children, particularly those in elementary school. Not many at this age are exposed to acting and I enjoy bringing it into their life," she says. Just last summer, Avina produced a lip-sync Talent Show for elementary and middle school children of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
All three had a lot to say when the topic turned to film industry. "Hollywood films have become way too commercial," Chapa asserts. Avina chimes in, "James Bond for example. They were advertising one thing after the next. It was really a two hour infomercial." To Avina, Breton and Chapa, the real artist is the independent filmmaker; Hollywood movies are no longer an art form, most having sold out to big business.
The Handsomest Drowned Man In The World is about exactly that-a drowned man found by a townspeople who think him the most handsome man in the world. "We''ve received a lot of positive feedback from those who''ve read the screenplay," tells Breton. Often a story''s wealth is lost in the screenplay, but Chapa''s creative adaptation is the backbone of the film. Marquez''s story lacks a main character, and revolves around the village people. In the screenplay, Chapa changed this and created Mari, a young thoughtful Latino girl who narrates the story.
When asked about stumbling blocks, the three synchronously responded, "funding." Regardless of Breton''s impressive letter sent to numerous businesses asking for donations, and the unabated moral support of many community members, CSUMB staff, and clubs (such as M.E.Ch.A., a nationwide nonprofit student organization dedicated to increasing awareness of Chicano culture), "money will always be an issue," says Breton. But this project is young, only two months old, and as Breton says, "it''s a difficult time of year to ask for money." New Vision will stride forward with various fundraising plans after the holidays.
The first public showing of the film will be in May at the Capstone Festival at CSUMB. cw
Annual Olio Revue Special New Year''s Eve show Thursday, 8pm. Friday and Saturday, 8pm. Musical Revue. The First Theater''s Troupers of the Gold Coast celebrate the holiday season with their annual olio revue, an evening of their favorite, silliest vaudeville-style sketches and comic songs from the turn-of-the century to today. One locally written number by Dee Olivetti updates the lyrics from a well-known olio routine to fit Peninsula cities. Audiences will "laugh a lot," the First Theater folks promise. Come on down with the whole family to boo the villains and cheer the maidens in California''s oldest continually running theater. California''s First Theater, Scott and Pacific streets, Monterey. 375-4916. $10/general; $5/children; $8/seniors. Through: 1/31/99.
Philadelphia Fringe Festival The third annual Philadelphia Fringe Festival, scheduled Sept. 15-25, 1999, is looking for "boundary-breaking, risk-taking new work in the performing arts." Performers working in any discipline are encouraged to apply: theater, dance, music, puppetry and spoken word. Applications will be accepted until March 1. Most artists will receive 70% of box office receipts, plus technical support. Shows may be self-produced. For application, write Deborah Block, Program Director, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, 217 Vine St., Philadelphia, PA 19106; or fax (215) 413-9007; phone (215) 413-9006; Website www.pafringe.com.
Two Dozen Red Roses Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 2pm. Unicorn Theater holds auditions for Two Dozen Red Roses, a modern romantic farce by Kenneth Horne featuring a love quadrangle where roses are mistakenly delivered to the wrong house. Parts available for two middle-aged couples and two flower-delivery persons. Show runs March 4 to April 4. Call Richard Munyon for more info. Hoffman Playhouse, 320 Hoffman St., Monterey. 649-0259.
Ansel Adams Gallery "Ansel Adams: Retrospective Exhibition." "This retrospective exhibition aims to show the diversity as well as evolution in style" that made Adams an important photographer. The Inn at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Dr., Pebble Beach. 375-7215. Through: 1/31/99.
Back Porch Fabrics "Wearable Art." Garments made by members of the Monterey Bay Chapter of the American Sewing Guild. 157 Grand Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-4453. Through: 1/14/99.
Buena Vista Branch Library "Guiding With Courage: Personal Heroes." Photographs by Kira Carillo Corser illustrate essays by MoCo children about their personal heroes. 1852 Lara Dr., Salinas. 459-9699. Through: 12/31.
Carmel Art Association "Happiness Is:" Works by local professional artists. Dolores Street, between 5th and 6th avenues, Carmel. 624-6176. Through: 1/7/99.
Carmel Valley Manor "Watercolors." Works by Frances Hunner and Helen Ordway. 8545 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 626-4711. Through: 1/31/99.
Gray''s Art Gallery "Accent on Angels." Group exhibit. 1104 Broadway Ave., Suite K, Seaside. 899-1069. Through: 1/3/99.
Grove Homescapes "Du Temps Perdu." Hand-colored black-and-white photographs of Paris by Meredith Mullins. 472 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 647-1719. Through: 1/31/99.
Henry Miller Library "Winter Art Show." The sixth annual "Winter Art Show" features the works of more than 40 Big Sur artists. Highway 1, Big Sur. 667-2574. Through: 1/31/99.
Monterey Museum of Art "Winterfest: A Multi-Cultural Celebration." Works that "focus on the artistry of a Victoran Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Pueblo Indian and Mexican celebrations." Also, "Artists'' Miniatures 1998," works by more than 100 local artists. On 1/4, works will be raffled off to art lovers who buy $3 tickets. "Storybook Illustrations," works by Laura Regan. 599 Pacific St., Monterey. 372-5477. Through: 1/3/99.
Monterey Museum of Art-La Mirada "Face to Face: The Paintings of Mabel Alvarez." 720 Via Mirada, Monterey. 372-3689, 372-5477. Through: 3/7/99.
Monterey Peninsula Airport "Altered States: Transforming the Spirit of Castoff Materials." Works by local artists who have created unusual works from everyday objects. Also, "Angels of Tradition," Santa Catalina Lower School students present their version of Monterey''s Christmas angels. 200 Fred Kane Dr., Monterey. 624-7910. Through: 3/31/99.
Nancy Dodds Gallery Printmaker Anita Toney reveals a triptych etching of Carmel Mission. 7th Avenue and San Carlos Street, Carmel. 624-0364. Through: 1/31/99.
National Steinbeck Center "El Arte De Mexico: Tres Aspectos de Tradicion." Paintings by Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco related to The Virgin of Guadalupe. 1 Main St., Salinas. 753-6411. Through: 1/10/99.
Pacific Grove Art Center Works by Julie Smith''s art students; paintings by Manuel Santana; ceramics by Dianna Holubec; jewelry by Ling Yen-Jones; "Christmas Stocking Event." 568 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. 375-2208. Through: 1/8/99.
Searle Art Supplies Paintings by students of Robynn Smith''s MPC class; holiday ceramics from MPC''s Mud People. 639 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey. 373-0126. Through: 12/31.
Seaside City Hall Juried exhibit presented by the Central Coast Art Association. 440 Harcourt Ave., Seaside. 899-6270. Reception: 1/8/99, 7pm. Through: 1/29/99.
Spa on the Plaza "Big Sur Florals." Watercolors by Big Sur artist Helen Jerene Morton. 201 Alvarado St., Monterey. 647-9000. Through: 2/1/99.
Venture Gallery "Artists'' Choice." Favorite works by the 27 members of this artist-owned gallery. 260 Alvarado Mall, at the Doubletree Hotel, Monterey. 372-6279. Through: 1/31/99.
Vest Pocket Gallery "Photo Decor." Photographs taken locally and in Austria by Erika Rider. 551 Gibson Ave., Pacific Grove. 657-5200. Reception: 1/8, 6:30pm. Through: 1/31/99.
White Oak Grill "Day''s End." Color photography of sunset images by David J. Gubernick. 19 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley. 659-7632. Through: 12/31.
A Woman''s Wellspring Rhythmic and boldly colored acrylic paintings by Danielle Dufayet. 575 Calle Principal, Monterey. 649-2320. Through: 1/30/99.