“Hale Bopp” director readies second feature

Director Chris Rubeo (left) on the set of “Hale Bopp.”

Within months of finishing his first feature, filmmaker Chris Rubeo is at it again.

Rubeo, whose “Hale Bopp” wrapped post last December (Steve Veach at Digital Domain Productions is still fine tuning sound) is gearing up for a fall production of his sophomore feature, “Killer Margaritas.”

“Industry people who’ve seen ‘Hale Bopp’ have said ‘solid first movie, now knock us out with something,’” Rubeo said. “With ‘Killer Margaritas’ I have the opportunity to do something great.”

Arturo Jaime Tapia, who gripped on “Hale Bopp,” wrote “Killer Margaritas” based on the years he spent “on a bar stool” before he turned his life around and got into film.

“What attracted me to ‘Margaritas’ was that it was such a stark, revealing look at a world that I was unfamiliar with,” said Rubeo, who is revising the script with Tapia. “My strength is to tell the human story. People who saw ‘Hale Bopp’ said they found it emotionally honest. I want to do work that takes itself seriously.”

“Margaritas” follows an ensemble of characters from a range of social strata, united by their excessive partying lifestyles. Rubeo described the pictures as “‘Kids’ meets an Altman film.”

Rubeo and Tapia are casting their net wide in their search for “ Margaritas’” cast, which includes some very young, intense roles. In addition to traditional auditions, they’re contacting drama departments at universities and even high schools.

Tapia is financing the low five-figure budget for “Margaritas,” which Rubeo plans as a bare bones, verite-style DV shoot.

Rubeo self-financed the $25,000 DV production of “Hale Bopp,” a relationship-focused picture starring Andrea Mustain, which shot in fall 2001. DP Steve Parker produced along with Jeanine Rohn, who was first AD on “Boys Don’t Cry.” The film is awaiting its official world premiere.

After stints as an actor and set dresser, Rubeo spent some time in the late ‘90s doing comedic pieces with the corporate video outfit “Corporate Friendly Stuff,” for clients including McGraw Hill and Prentice Hall, “making executives seem funny for yearly sales meetings. It really prepared me to work on the fly, with limited resources, like being in the trenches. I learned editing from having to take this mess of corporate yahoos and try to make them seem amusing for the benefit of the sales force.”

Rubeo caught the DV bug from his corporate video experiences, and soon left the corporate world to develop “Hale Bopp.” “I still use the same Cannon XL1 and Adobe Premier and Windows 98 that I bought back then, and it all works like a charm,” Rubeo said.

Learn more at haleboppmovie.com.–Ed M. Koziarski, edk@homesickblues.com