The 2008 Pan American Summer Television (P.A.S.T.) project, “The Red Queen,” produced at The University of Texas-Pan American, has been recently accepted for worldwide distribution through Echelon Studios, a Los Angeles based production and distribution company.
“The Red Queen” is the 17th feature film produced through the Department of Communication and the first to use Hollywood actors along with Rio Grande Valley locals. The film, an action-filled thriller that focuses on a young woman’s search for the true identity of her deceased mother, stars UTPA alumnus Valente Rodriquez from “The George Lopez Show”, Estephenia LeBaron from “The Alamo”, and Harley Jane Kozak from “Parenthood”. Produced as part of the P.A.S.T. program, the majority of cast and crew were UTPA students.
Associate Professor David B. Carren directed from his screenplay, which was based on a story conceived by Professor Jack R. Stanley. Both are faculty members in UTPA's Department of Communication. Emmy-winning editor Stephen Escobar, another UTPA alumnus, edited the project. Dr. Marian Monta, UTPA professor emeritus of theatre, Carren and Stanley are its executive producers.
Carren said he was not aware of any feature films produced with student casts and crews at other universities, often with much heftier budgets, that have achieved distribution.
“I think this is a testament to the quality of our program, our students and the successful structure and intention of the P.A.S.T. program that Stanley and Dr. Marion Monta have worked so hard to establish,” Carren said.
One of the P.A.S.T. program’s most ambitious projects, “The Red Queen” was shot in San Juan, South Padre Island, McAllen, Roma, and Edinburg, including McAllen's Arts District Business Center and the Port Isabel Pier. Production challenges included martial arts fights, gun battles, a car chase, and elaborate sets built at two university facilities, Carren said.
Carren said Echelon has also expressed interest in previous P.A.S.T. productions, including “Academic Affairs,” a project Stanley wrote and directed. There are also plans to send Echelon “Waiting for Sandoval,” a production P.A.S.T. will shoot in 2012. As the films get released, Carren said their casts and crews earn credits on the International Movie Data Base, the bible of the industry.
“Thanks to P.A.S.T., our students will gain not only solid working experience but legitimate production credits. While our films gain distribution and recognition, the P.A.S.T. program can only grow and expand, enhancing our students' personal growth and career opportunities,” he said.
“The Red Queen” has earned a variety of honors, including a Silver Palm at the 2010 Mexico International Film Festival, a Bronze Remi at the 43rd Annual WorldFest Houston International Film Festival, an Honorable Mention in the 2009 Los Angeles Reel Film Festival and a second place in the 2008 University Film and Video Association Conference Screenwriting Competition. The film was also an Official Selection at the 2010 Cine Las Americas Film Festival in Austin, where it had its official world premiere.
Echelon Studios' library contains more than 450 first run titles encompassing a wide variety of genre. DVD's of “The Red Queen” can be ordered via the Echelon Studios website at http://www.singahe.com/the-red-queen.html.
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