Santa Fean April May 2016 | Digital Edition

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| Q + A |

Cassidy Freeman the City Different welcomes filmmaker and actress Cassidy Freeman for a chat about her new Taos-based film Cortez, the Season 5 production of the Netflix series Longmire—and maybe a song or two. w it h Anne Maclach la n

Your background is extensive; not just onstage and onscreen, but as a musician and as a producer. I think of life as a stove—I never use just one pot. Doing different things in the entertainment business specifically helps give some perspective. It can be easy to find the faults in your everyday life when you don’t know how hard others might be working just outside your trailer. Seeing production from all the different angles keeps me grateful and aware of just how much work goes into creating stories. Can you tell us a little about your latest film, Cortez? Cortez is a film that explores what it means to be imperfect and still worthy of love. Our story is about Jesse and Anne, former lovers, who find each other again after 10 years. Jesse is a once-successful musician unable to adapt to a rapidly changing industry, and Anne is a single mother who has all but disappeared in Cortez, a tiny mountain town in northern New Mexico. After a canceled tour and a failed mission to find himself, Jesse goes to Cortez to seek out Anne. When he knocks on her door, a 10-year-old boy answers—a boy that looks just like him. Jesse makes an arrogant attempt to insert himself into the family, betrays the trust of his loved ones, and is forced to confront the mistakes of his past on his own.

Taos has such a wonderful vibe; how was the creative team able to incorporate that into Cortez? We shot the film in Taos, New Mexico, which serves as the fictional town of Cortez. The complicated history and wild, rare beauty of the place has drawn those looking for inspiration since the early 20th century. It was a retreat for many of the artists that have shaped our image of the Southwest: Ansel Adams, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Dennis Hopper. So to us, Taos was a natural setting for a story about a man who is on an ego-driven search. We were lucky enough to have the full support of the town of Taos, with many of the colorful locals, including Arron’s own son, integrated into the fabric of the film. Every single day, even if I had only had four hours of sleep, I was so grateful and eager to shoot because everything around me was so freaking beautiful. I felt like I was living in a painting of possibility . . . and everyone around us wanted to help.

be honest, it never stops happening. Will the film be making the indie circuit? That’s the plan. You and your brother Clark have a band; is this something you’ve been doing since you were kids? Clark and I make up half of our band,

How did it go? Cheryl has been a powerhouse in terms of keeping us on track and making sure we’re all doing the best we can in the shortest amount of time. When you spend years of your life imagining a film, creating concepts with your team, and then having to explain and re-explain it to investors, it almost feels as if the film has already been made. Then, when you walk into day one of shooting, you have to have faith that your vision will be the guiding light, but magic happens unplanned and often looks different than you thought it would. That magic continues even after picture wrap. It happens well into post production. To BOBBY QUILLARD

What drew you to this particular project? There are people that you meet in your life and you think: we’re connected. I felt that way when I met Cheryl Nichols [when we were both new to Hollywood]. Cheryl invited me to a reading of Cortez in her living room with her writing partner, Arron Shiver, along with a bunch of friends. I was blown away. Not only was the dialogue natural and funny, it was human. I offered to help in any way I could, and they asked if I’d be willing to produce it. I like telling stories that I can relate to— knowing that somehow, somewhere, someone is feeling what we feel. It is an incredibly unify-

ing thing, film. Cortez spoke to me in this way. I bowed to its honesty and acceptance of being exactly what it is.

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april/may april/may 2016 2016

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