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‘Kepler’s Dream’ finds a home in NM, releases nationwide

Holland Taylor in a scene from, “Kepler’s Dream,” which was filmed in New Mexico. (Courtesy of Amy Glazer)

It took Amy Glazer one trip to New Mexico to realize she found the perfect spot for her production.

It’s been nearly three years since Glazer was in the state filming, “Kepler’s Dream.”

The journey is hitting a milestone on Friday, Dec. 1, as it will be released theatrically and on demand. It is playing at Icon Cinemas in Albuquerque.

“It’s been a very long journey and an enormous labor of love,” Glazer says. “The fact that it’s getting out there and finding an audience I intended it for, it’s joyous.”

Glazer admits when she got the rights to make “Kepler’s Dream,” she was going to film it in California.

A scene from “Kepler’s Dream,” which also stars Steven Michael Quezada, center.

“I went with my production designer to research Albuquerque and check out the actual home that Sylvia’s (Brownrigg) grandmother lived in and do some research. I had never been to New Mexico and when I got there I understood that this was a character that loomed larger than life over this film. As a character, the weather, the sky, the red rock and the gypsum mines, all of it was so specific and unique and compelling to me. I understood the juxtaposition.”

“Kepler’s Dream,” is based on the award-winning novel by Brownrigg, who uses the nom de plume Juliet Bell.

The book is inspired by her grandmother who was resident of Albuquerque for more than 50 years.

It tells the story of a spirited girl discovering through new friendships and the power of one magical book how to begin to heal her broken family.

The film stars Holland Taylor, Sean Patrick Flanery, Kelly Lynch, David Hunt, Steven Michael Quezada, Kelly Hu and newcomer Isabella Blake-Thomas.

According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production employed at least 60 New Mexico crew members, nine New Mexico actors and about 50 background talent.

Kelly Lynch and Isabella Blake-Thomas in a scene from “Kepler’s Dream.”

Production also took place in and around Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Glazer spent 22 days in production, which was one day longer than expected.

“There were a few days of lightning storms that shut down production for the day,” she says. “I also realized that having Isabella on set, that she couldn’t work as long as the adults could. It was all a great experience.”

“Kepler’s Dream” is Glazer’s third feature film.

She’s balanced life as a director with her day job — head of the theater department at San Jose State University.

Because filming ran over by one day, she missed the first day of the fall semester.

“I Skyped with my class during that first day,” she says. “They all got a behind-the-scenes look at the film. It was one of their favorite classes of the semester.”

Glazer says when she first read “Kepler’s Dream,” she was touched by the story.

“There were so many values that were so meaningful to me,” she says. “I was just transported by it. I felt a little embarrassed that I knew I wasn’t the intended audience. But there’s this 11-year-old girl inside of me that is still so alive. While I read the book, I could see the film.”

The production didn’t have too many location shoots because most of it took place on a ranch.

“It became our home away from home,” she says. “Being able to live together for 17 hours a day. Holland Taylor had her own room at the ranch. In retrospect, I can’t imagine doing it any other way.”

Finding the location was key to the production.

Yet Glazer says the cast elevated the film to another level.

“I’m so fortunate to have had help in getting this cast,” she says. “I never dreamed I would be working with Kelly, Holland and Sean. They were perfect for these roles.”

Glazer also hit the jackpot locally with New Mexico actors such as Quezada and Stafford Douglas.

“I can’t say how pleased I am with the quality of actors out there,” she says. “Many of them have theater backgrounds and they were speaking my language. All of them were ‘grade A’ actors.”

Now that the film is being released to the world, it’s difficult for Glazer to put into words.

“It’s been three years of my life,” she says. “The notion that all of this love and effort and focus could ultimately go unseen. It tormented me. But it’s getting released and I’m grateful to Albuquerque and Santa Fe for being the home of our story. It brought with it the most beautiful sky and moon. It’s my happy place and I get all dreamy.”

Director Amy Glazer with Sean Patrick Flanery during filming of “Kepler’s Dream” in New Mexico.