Director plans to enter movie shot in Lower Yakima Valley into film festivals

By Dori O'Neal, Tri-City HeraldMay 12, 2013 

It's been almost two years since Rick Castaneda started filming his movie, Cement Suitcase, in the Lower Yakima Valley.

The film wrapped up earlier this year, and on Saturday, Castaneda and his cast and crew watched the finished product on the big screen in a private showing in Sunnyside.

He hopes to bring the film for a public showing to the Tri-Cities soon.

Castaneda, 32, grew up in Granger before heading off to Los Angeles after high school to study filmmaking at the University of Southern California.

He runs his own production company, Psychic Bunny, and directed, produced and wrote several music videos, live-action shorts and animated films before deciding to direct his own movie two years ago.

He also wrote the screenplay for the comedy, which is about a savvy wine salesman in the Yakima Valley with a totally screwed up personal life.

"We ran into a few production problems through the filming," Castaneda told the Herald.

One of those snags was a scene being filmed on a country road near Prosser. The lead actor, Dwayne Bartholomew, was drunk and fighting with a fence post.

When the scene called for the actor to stumble to the ground, someone in a passing car thought he was having a heart attack and called 911.

"We had cops, and an ambulance arrive in minutes rushing to help," he said. "It was actually kind of funny."

But obstacles and delays are all part of Hollywood movie-making.

"When we first got started on this film, I found myself wishing I had worked on a few big movies in L.A. first before starting my own film," Castaneda said. "But now I'm glad I didn't."

Most of the film was shot on Castaneda's home turf, as well as at the Airfield Estates Winery in Prosser.

He said he now is focusing his efforts on getting the film entered into as many regional film festivals as possible. The film was submitted to Sundance earlier this year but wasn't accepted.

"There are about 7,000 films entered into (Sundance) festival each year and only 100 are chosen," Castaneda said.

Stayed tuned to the Herald for updates on when Cement Suitcase will be shown in the Tri-Cities.

-- Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; doneal@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @dorioneal

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