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A ‘Lot’ of comedy: New Mexico filmmaker uses pent up pandemic energy, enters international competition

A behind-the-scenes look at the short film, “Lot 26.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Independent filmmakers are masters at utilizing resources.

When Albuquerque-based director Dan Mathis had pent-up energy from not having any productions for months, he decided to do a 3-minute film.

It was so he could enter “My RØDE Reel,” an international competition for filmmakers. To watch and to vote for Dan Mathis’ “Lot 26,” visit The competition ends on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

“I always looked at ‘My RØDE Reel’ every year,” he says. “They’ve always had good prizes. This year they upped the ante with over $1 million in cash prizes.”

Mathis got a crew together to film – for one day.

The result is the film, “Lot 26.” It follows a young couple, who tries to get away to rekindle their relationship only to have their campsite invaded by a group of crazies who take them on the adventure of a lifetime.

The entire project was 100% New Mexico created.

Mathis wrote the film with his wife, Dani Payne. It is produced by John Kaler and Alejandro Montoya Marin and edited by Mathis and Jor-El Morales. Lane Luper served as the cinematographer.

The film stars Michelle Belmont, Ben Benjamin, Michael Chaput, Ian Hamilton, Zacciah Hanson, John Kaler, Joshua Nathaniel Melendez, Natalie O’Sullivan, Taylor Poyfair and Steph Sugar.

Dan Mathis and Dani Payne are the writers behind “Lot 26.”

Mathis says everyone involved was ready to get back to work creatively on set.

He also reached out to family and friends for props.

“My grandfather had this little RV,” he says. “Then it started to snowball from there. A friend had a bigger RV and we were set.”

“Lot 26” is also a rare opportunity for Mathis to work in the comedy genre.

He usually works on thriller projects, but comedy seemed right.

“We went with comedy because it tends to play better in competitions like this,” he says. “And you can tell a joke in three minutes.”

Mathis would love to win a prize from the competition, although he’s happy with the process in getting “Lot 26” made.

“What I have gotten out of this is the collaboration,” he says. “There were people I hadn’t worked with in years. Some people that I had never worked with before. Each one brought their ‘A’ game.”

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