I watched you work throughout the filming of "A Better Life". One thing
I am certain of is that there was alot of passion and personal concern
throughout all of the scenarios. Can you describe some of the personal
emotions and concerns you had making the movie?
grandmother is Mexican -- she came to this country when she was seventeen
-- and my wife is Latina (half Mexican-AAmerican, half Cuban), so for me
making the film was an important way of exploring my roots. I definitely
had a sense of having in some respects lost touch with my culture, so this
working experience was a good excuse to study Spanish, which I am still
doing. To see the pride that people bring to keeping the culture
of the charros alive is very inspiring to me; an of course it is also very
melancholy when you think of people of Mexican descent in Los Angeles who
feel rootless and
The portion of the movie that we shot at pico Rivera is very bittersweet
-- we see a proud man, who has left behiind his tierra to try to make a
better life for his family; and also his son, who is seeing, maybe for
the first time. the culture that belongs to him. He hasn't been able
to get the benefit of this, because his father works so hard and can;t
be at home very much. The movie is really about their journey towards
understanding one another, and about the sacrifices that parents make for
Your production team and everybody involved in the making of "A Better
Life" were wonderful and respectful to everybody. I understand some actors
and contractors were willing to work for less than usual. What were your
biggest challenges in making the movie?
I'm glad that the crew and cast were respectful to everyone in the locations
in which we worked; the people there welcomes us with open arms, and we
were very grateful to get a chance to shoot in real locations and to capture
on film the way people live their lives. This was a big concern --
to be accurate about all of the worlds that we were portraying, from the
Charro culture to the culture of Boyle Heights, which is not rich in monetary
terms but very rich in spirit. Even gang members deserved to be treated
with an understanding eye; that was something that Father Gregory Boyle
at Homeboy Industries teaches. The camera can lie but it can also
tell the truth by keeping its eye open for the little details of life;
and as for me and my crew it was our job to try to paint an honest picture
of the struggles and victories that Mexican American people experience
in this country.
You were climbing trees, riding horses, carrying on with cast and crew.
What sports and activities do you like. Do you have many memorable moments
throughout the filming.
many! Just getting to know aspects of Mexican culture in LA that
I didn't know before and which I think people from my side of town are
unaware of. Meeting father Boyle and greeting to know him has been
an honor, as was attending and being allowed to shoot a real charreada.
I think the best part of making films is the people you get to meet, what
you learn from them. Thanks for letting me ride your horse!
I was afraid that I was going to get thrown but of course the horse knew
I was an amateur and took pity on me.
for climbing a plam tree, that was definitely memorable! Wenever
I am going to ask a cast member to do something difficult I want to try
it first, so that i can understand what I'm asking of them.
The Charro community was excited to do takes and participate. The second
anniversary "Mothers Day Extravaganza" was taking place during the filming,
Will there be any footage of the Charreada event in the movie?.
Por su puesto, as you'll see! It forms a really important part of
the movie, in whcih the hero, Carlos, realizes how much he has left behind
to work as hard as he does. I've been traveling around Scotland and
England doing interviews about the film and everyone is just amazed by
this sequence, and the fact that people are keeping this culture alive.
Good reviews and expectations of awards are in the air. Where and when
will the film be released?
went into a very limited release June 24th and will be expanding from there.
A lot will depend on how much people attend in the early weeks, so get
your families together! This weekend (4th of July weekend) we'll
be opening in Southgate, Winnetka, and elsewhere in the LA area.
whole "A Better Life" experience was fantastic and fun for me. I had a
really good time. I saw that you are a good rider, would you like to join
the Charro community in a fun filled trail and poker ride? I'll provide
the Horses. Tacos, Chicharrones, Beer and live Banda music are the way
works for me! I'll have had enough of all the PR tours and after
I get back from New York in August I'm all about horses, poker tacos, and
want to applaud you for the courage in expressing your views during a *interview
and the "March" in L. A. The movie includes and touches on several life
issues and I expect it will shed light on many of life's victories and
challenges. The Charro Family, it's organizations and the Mexican American
community thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your work. Do you
have a specific message you would like to share with us? As for me and
mine, Te deseamos lo mejor de la suerte y que te acompañe Dios..
want to thank the charro community for their warm welcome and for opening
their culture for us to film. It's been a real privilege to get it
to the screen and I want people also to know just how impressed audiences
are that the Charro community is doing so much to show respect for Mexican
culture and keeping this spirit alive!
The movie is a jewel and is a must see for the Latino community. It is
a gift and love letter to L.A. and our community as *Jami
Gertz put it. We absolutely have to support and appreciate this work
by watching it and keeping it in theaters. Let’s make sure Hollywood continues
to make positive Latino based movies. This is a great opportunity for us
say enough about the wonderful experience I had with the producers and
everybody involved in the making of “A Better Life”.
Special thank you to the most beautiful person and friend Laura Greenlee,
My hat’s off to *Jamie Gertz , Chris Weitz and Christian
McLaughlin and of course Summit Entertainment.
list is too long but it was great to meet and work with Missy Stewart,
Javier Aguirresarobe (aka the most interesting man in the world),
Linda Morel, Carlos de la Torre, Richard Mendez, Elaine, Maritza,
Melissa and Tammy Smith, You are all a bunch of wonderful people.
movie was originally called “The Gardener”, but the name was changed
and rightfully so because the dream and reality is that the movie will
be instrumental in creating “A Better Life” for our community.
than 150 Charros and personal friends worked in and had a lot of fun while
filming this great movie.
personally want to thank my dear friends Don Leonardo Lopez and Fernando
Lopez for continuing to promote Charreria and Mexican American Culture
at the Pico Rivera Sports Arena . Thank you for all of your help and support.
Thank you for loving Charreria and our community.
siempre, les deseo lo mejor de la suerte y que los acompañe Dios.
servidor, Tobias de la Torre,
Charros Federation USA Inc.
Director, Preservation Committee of Charreria, Federacion Mexicana de Charreria