Through the pandemic, many people were forced to pivot.
In Christopher James Hagen’s case, the film industry slowed to a halt for months.
“It was rough,” he says. “But I knew there were great things to come.”
He was right.
Along came the project, “Fowl,” written and directed by Las Cruces-based filmmaker Ross Kagan Marks.
The short film tells the story of the unlikely friendship between Stiff Miller and Louie Hernandez, who are both in an assisted living facility during COVID times.
Miller is bitter and angry because he is dealing with kidney failure, along side being on oxygen and in a wheelchair.
Meanwhile, Hernandez is diagnosed with the onset of dementia and maintains his sweet and innocent demeanor. Both men are living out their last days at the facility.
Hagen plays Miller and Bruce Klefstad is Hernandez.
“It was a wonderful experience working with Ross and the rest of the crew,” Hagen says.
Hagen traveled from Santa Fe to Las Cruces in November 2020.
Klefstad flew himself in from Phoenix for the role.
“We rehearsed for a day and filmed for two,” Hagen says. “On this project, everyone had the same goal.”
Hagen says Marks told the cast and crew that he decided to write “Fowl,” when the pandemic moved through and shut down the industry.
The process was also an outlet for Marks to deal with the death of his father-in-law, Mark Medoff, in April 2019.
“Ross told us that he realized that he had written from some of his experiences with his father-in-law,” Hagen says.
Brian Espinosa is the executive producer, and Kyle Ivy and Keagan Karnes were co-producers. Marks, who is also an associate professor at the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University, enlisted some of his former and current students on the production.
Hagen says the production felt super safe with everyone following the COVID-safe guidelines for film.
Testing happened before everyone got on set.
“This was one of my first productions back from the pandemic,” he says. “It felt really good to sink my teeth into the role. I can tell you that I’ve never sworn so much.”
Hagen has also been involved in the upcoming Amazon series, “Outer Range,” which is a contemporary Western.
“One of the best things was staying at the Hotel Castaneda in Las Vegas, New Mexico,” he says. “I’ve been part of the film industry for years now and I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
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.