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Pandemic survivors: Pilot of ‘La Vida Buena’ focuses on struggles of ABQ bars, restaurants in past year

The team behind “La Vida Buena, The Good Life” inside Tako Ten. (Courtesy of La Vida Buena, The Good Life)

Julian Nuñez is a storyteller.

After a year of not being able to create films that tell the stories, he was looking for another outlet.

Enter the city of Albuquerque’s “Virtual Visionaries” initiative, which invites creative professionals to submit pitches for engaging, original, and creative video content that is ready to air and stream on the city’s public access Channel 27, social media, and other digital platforms.

What Nuñez created is the pilot episode of “La Vida Buena, The Good Life.” The series features Albuquerque restaurants and breweries that were hit hard during the pandemic.

It will air on Saturday, May 8, on Comcast Channel 26 and livestream at studio519abq.com/watch.

Nuñez collaborated with Matt Holguin and Luke Hawthorne on the pilot episode.

“The concept for the project started before the pandemic,” Nuñez says. “I was looking for a way to promote restaurants in general. It was a year in the making, because the pandemic shut down all production.”

Nuñez says the production adhered to the state’s COVID-safe practices.

“We kept it as small as possible,” he says of the production team. “We actually shot it in one day. Just because of scheduling and postproduction, it took about a month to complete. We had a deadline from the city and knew exactly what needed to be done.”

The pilot episode of the “La Vida Buena, The Good Life” is titled “Viva ABQ.”

The episode features a variety of locally owned eateries, including TakoTen, B2B Garden Brewery, 505 Central and Farm & Table.

TakoTen’s specialty is traditional tacos with a fusion twist by chef Dominic Valenzuela.

B2B is a neighborhood brewery serving good eats and more than 15 local beers, ciders, and seltzers.

To highlight the food hall craze, the crew went to Downtown Albuquerque and paid a visit to 505 Central.

The good life Production for “La Vida Buena, The Good Life” took place at Farm & Table in the North Valley. (Courtesy of La Vida Buena)

The episode ends with owner Cherie Montoya of Farm & Table, a restaurant on a 12-acre farm serving cuisine locally sourced from area farmers, ranchers and food artisans.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, but we feel that the food and beverage industry has been hit especially hard, and even as things open up and begin to recover, the effects of the pandemic will be felt for years,” says Holguin, the show’s director. “We pledged to give back in the best way we know how, and it’s to help these restaurants and breweries tell their stories.”

Nuñez says being able to work with Holguin and Hawthorne was amazing.

“We’ve known each other since college at New Mexico State University,” Nuñez says. “Being able to have such an amazing team of filmmakers made the production go smoothly. We’re looking forward to working more together and highlighting the greatness of Albuquerque.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.




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